Occupancy rates in March in Aspen and Snowmass Village dropped this year compared to 2011, according to figures released Thursday by reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.
Occupancy in Aspen lodges was down 5 percent for the month, while Snowmass fell nearly 13 percent compared to a year ago.
“Aspen properties [lost] some ground in March as last-minute bookings failed to materialize at the same rate as last year, although a surprising number of last-minute bookings did materialize in Snowmass,” said Stay Aspen Snowmass president Bill Tomcich in an email.
The 12.7 percent decline in Snowmass was likely because the Brazilian holiday of Carnival shifted from March to February (occupancy that month for Snowmass rose 16 percent over 2011).
Aspen lodges in March had an occupancy rate of 65.4 percent, while Snowmass’ rate was 56.2 percent. The average daily rate for a room in Aspen rose from $387 in March 2011 to $393 this year; in Snowmass that rate dropped from $393 to $384.
Tom Foley, an analyst with the Mountain Travel Research Program, wrote in an accompanying report that March was a tumultuous month across the mountain travel industry. Foley cited “no shortage of economic- and weather-based influences.
“Consistent increases in the financial markets and, until the most recent report, job creation have bolstered consumer confidence and opened the wallets of our clientele despite less-than-optimal snow conditions across most of the country,” Foley wrote. “The result has been an expected year-over-year decline in occupancy at most destinations accompanied by an unexpected increase in” average daily rates.
So-called “pure” destinations are faring better than drive markets, the report says.
For the year, occupancy in Aspen is up about 3 percent while the daily rate is up 2.2 percent for the year ($401 in 2012 versus $393 in 2011). Snowmass’ rate so far this year is $345 compared to $346 a year ago, and occupancy to date is 8.5 percent ahead of 2011.