Snowmass Village winter lodging revenue surpasses 2008

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

The numbers are in, confirming as lodging officials were speculating in April that overall occupancy for the November-to-April season was up in Snowmass Village.

The town saw an increase of 7.2 percent over last year’s occupancy, according to a report by the Mountain Travel Research Program. In addition, Snowmass’ revenue per available room surpassed 2007-08 levels, “a feat achieved by few, if any, other mountain resort destinations,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.

Aspen’s overall winter occupancy was down 2.4 percent over last winter.

Tomcich has credited improved snow conditions, group business, the timing of major holidays and the remodels of the Westin and Wildwood with boosting Snowmass’ occupancy this season.

Tim Johnson, director of sales and marketing for the Westin and Wildwood, said the hotels saw high demand this winter. Because the properties hosted the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and the Mountain Travel Symposium in April, their numbers were even higher than the rest of Snowmass Village, he said. Occupancy for the month of April finished 34.6 percent higher than last year, according to the report.

Johnson has said the rebranding of the Westin helped boost its occupancy this year, but he also pointed to the group and special-event business such as large ski councils, the NASTAR National Championships and the April events. The numbers show “the impact of larger special events,” he said.

Mary Harris, general manager of the Timberline Condominiums, said the property had a very strong season, as well.

Looking ahead

The outlook for summer is still mostly unclear, based on reports from lodging representatives.

Dave Spence, manager of Top of the Village condominiums, said his staff is both excited and worried about the summer.

“Last summer was very, very good because the Westin and Wildwood were closed,” he said. Now, with more than 400 rooms back on the market, “that’s a huge number of rooms for us to absorb as a resort,” he said.

One trend that is clear is a shift in bookings from Aspen to Snowmass over Food and Wine weekend.

“Last year at this time, Aspen was virtually sold out along with the event itself, with occupancies nearing 95 percent as of April 30,” Tomcich said. “This year, while the event is again completely sold out, Aspen’s occupancies are only in the mid-70s, with plenty of rooms still available at The Gant, The Aspen Meadows and the Inn at Aspen. Snowmass, on the other hand, is seeing double-digit increases in their pre-booked occupancies for that particular weekend.”

Some bookings have been made at the Timberline for that weekend, but Harris said she’s not sure if the guests are Food and Wine attendees or just taking advantage of some promotions the property is running for May and June.

“I’m feeling good about the bump we’re getting with Food and Wine,” Spence said.

The property also has a chunk of rooms set aside for Colorado State Patrol officers during the USA Pro Challenge, and Spence said he thinks there will be a lot of leisure guests coming to Snowmass to spectate. He also has high hopes for the future of the Mammoth Festival.

“I really believe the town is on the right track in pushing (that),” he said.

For Johnson, “the jury’s still out” on summer, he said. He thinks business overall will be better without having significant construction on the mall and two hotels closed. He’s also hopeful that the condos brought in some new business last year.

With the Westin Snowmass Conference Center out of commission last year, conference lodging was down, but Johnson said some group business is on the books for this summer.

The properties are promoting packages for Food and Wine participants, he said. Snowmass should be an appealing alternative for Food and Wine guests.

“Aspen tends to fill up quickly, and the price point’s really high,” Johnson said. “We offer a great value.”

Harris said occupancy for summer could be better, but she added that the season has more last-minute bookings.

“I think there’s a lot of room for Snowmass to grow in the summertime,” she said.