Winter bookings up in Snowmass Village

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

From May to October, Aspen’s occupancy-rate losses were Snowmass Village’s gains, according to a six-month lodging analysis by the Denver firm DestiMetrics, which tracks resort activity.

Aspen’s occupancy for the six-month period was down 1.4 percent, from 52.8 percent in 2012 to 52.1 percent this year. Meanwhile, its higher neighbor to the west showed a lodging-occupancy increase of 22.9 percent, rising from 23.2 percent in 2012 to 28.5 percent during this year’s May-to-October time frame.

Bill Tomcich, president of reservations firm Stay Aspen Snowmass, said that while Aspen had a great summer season in terms of visitors and hotel stays, Snowmass Village benefited this year from the reopening of 400 rooms at the Westin Snowmass and Wildwood Resorts properties, which underwent extensive renovations.

The DestiMetrics survey also shows that revenue per room rose 7.4 percent in Aspen and 27.9 percent in Snowmass this year compared with the same six months in 2012. The average daily rates were higher in both places: 8.9 percent in Aspen and 4 percent in Snowmass.

The hospitality industry’s thoughts are now turning to the winter season. Aspen Skiing Co. announced on Sunday that it would open Aspen Mountain’s east side up to snowboarding and skiing this weekend, nearly two weeks in advance of the previously scheduled Thanksgiving start on Nov. 28. Daily skiing at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass ski area begin Nov. 23.

Early snowfall and prime nighttime snowmaking conditions are making the early start possible, Skico said.

Tomcich said the announcement didn’t boost advance ski-season bookings on Nov. 11, the Veterans Day holiday. Sales activity picked up Tuesday, though.

“The phones have definitely been ringing,” he said. “Things are humming around here, … (though) not necessarily off the charts yet.”

Thanksgiving weekend, which falls at the end of the month, is looking weak because of this year’s absence of women’s World Cup racing.

“Without World Cup this year, the void of hotel rooms booked is very noticeable,” he said in an email summary. “Hopefully some of that will start to fill in as word continues to spread about our above-normal snowpack and early ski-resort openings.”

Last-minute bookings helped the October lodging situation, as fall foliage peaked a little later than usual, he noted. The latest DestiMetrics report shows that the monthly occupancy rate was 10.6 percent higher in Aspen compared with the same month last year.

Perhaps more importantly, Tomcich said, is that what was impressive about October was the “accelerated pace of future bookings made during the month for the upcoming winter.”