Snowmass for the holidays: A look at how the winter peak tourism season went for the village

There’s a lot of positive tourism-related news riding on the coattails of the recent winter holiday season in Snowmass Village this year, according to town stakeholders.

On Jan. 10, Snowmass Tourism received the December occupancy report for the village, showing that the peak holiday period for the town brought in about the same number of visitors as the year before.

The village was at a 52.3% average occupancy in December 2018, and at 52.2% in December.

“I would call it a pretty flat comparison,” Snowmss Tourism director Rose Abello said of the holiday occupancy rate compared with last year. “But walking around the village, the merchants seemed excited to go into the holiday season and business is really good, it’s solid.”

With the December data in, Abello and her team are now able to look back on the year as a whole, which shows occupancy was up 4.6% on average compared with 2018, and that 2019 was a record occupancy year for the town.

Town officials also project an 8.9% increase in county sales tax revenue — which amount to more than local sales tax gains — an 11.46% increase in town sales tax revenue and a 10% increase in lodging tax revenue over the 2019 budget year, as previously reported.

“It’s been a really exciting year for Snowmass,” Abello said. “And it’s not just us, there’s been a real focused sales effort from the hotels, restaurants and retailers that has contributed to the year’s success. It really does take a village.”

This solid business feedback and sentiments of success over the holiday season specificially were echoed across the three different hubs of the village, with officials representing the Snowmass Village Mall, Snowmass Center and Base Village all agreeing that the peak holiday season was an overwhelmingly positive one.

Dwayne Romero of The Romero Group, which owns and manages much of the Snowmass Village Mall, said he was up on the mall quite a bit over the holidays and has heard from business owners that it was one of the best seasons yet.

This year The Romero Group worked to market the Village Mall as a destination, which he feels gives it more of the attention it deserves, and has 2020 plans in the works to increase the mall’s appeal.

“We’ve worked to build street cred and market the mall as a convenient, cool destination with a collection of local businesses and services,” Romero explained.

In checking in with his mall tenants and business owners, Romero feels the mall received the right amount of pressure over the holiday season, and is excited to be a part of the positive energy he feels is palpable in the village as a whole.

“Snowmass Village is clearly getting its mojo and we want to catch hold of that energy and vibe,” Romero said.

Eastwood Snowmass Investors, which owns and manages the Snowmass Center, expressed similar thoughts about the holiday season for its village hub.

According to Rob Cairncross, an Eastwood Snowmass Investors managing partner, many of the Snowmass Center tenants he spoke with expressed that business was up from the last holiday season.

“There was the perfect storm of conditions for good business, but the holiday season definitely puts a spotlight on areas where we can improve,” Cairncross said.

Cairncross mainly referred to the back-of-house delivery congestion that increases over the winter holidays, and aging infrastructure of the center as a whole.

He did give a special shout out to the Snowmass post office, which had a smoother holiday season than last year even though it saw parcel increases, and said the center hopes to keep the holiday season momentum.

“We saw a successful holidays and there’s a lot of excitement in the village, so it should shape up to be a great season overall,” Cairncross said.

Dawn Blasberg, plaza and events manager for Base Village and The Collective, said the holiday season was a success for Base Village as well.

With the newest hub of the village being fully opened over the holidays for the first time, Blasberg said it was hard to compare this year with years past.

However, she said this winter season there has been more collaboration among the Base Village merchants to offer more all-encompassing experiences for locals and visitors, and that the new mix6 restaurant in The Collective has received a lot of positive feedback.

“The holiday season was very busy here, we are thrilled,” Blasberg said.

Blasberg also said the main challenge that popped up over the holidays was figuring out the right capacity limit for The Collective game lounge, but that Base Village officials and homeowners are committed to keeping it free for local and visiting families to use for the rest of the winter season.

Despite the fact that the December occupancy numbers in Snowmass didn’t increase from last year, the overall sentiment was that it was a strong holiday off the mountain and on the slopes.

Jeff Hanle, vice president of communications for Aspen Skiing Co., said the Aspen-Snowmass resorts saw the largest number of skiers and snowboarders Jan. 2, which he explained is common when the holidays fall in the middle of the week.

Like the rest of the Snowmass stakeholders, Hanle also said he feels the overall successes in Aspen-Snowmass over the winter peak holiday season will bode well for the coming winter months.

“The great snow conditions and holiday season will create a positive momentum for the rest of the season,” Hanle said.