Aspen’s hotels and lodges were slightly less full this past January than they were for the same month in 2012, as a dearth of new snow kept last-minute bookings to a minimum but a near-capacity Winter X Games weekend bolstered business.
Aspen hotel occupancy, at 72.1 percent for January, was down 3 percent from 2012. Last year’s January occupancy was described as “exceptional” by Stay Aspen Snowmass president Bill Tomcich, making the slight downtick a still successful start to 2013 in resort leaders’ estimation.
Snowfall in Aspen in January was well below average, with little more than 18 inches reported by the city of Aspen, off significantly from the average of nearly 26 inches.
“But despite the lackluster snowfall for much of the month and less than an overwhelming surge of last-minute bookings, the month was punctuated by occupancies in the mid 90’s in both Aspen and Snowmass over Winter X weekend,” Tomcich wrote in a memorandum accompanying the hotel reservations activity report from MTRiP, a travel research tracker for mountain destinations.
The data is based on a sample of up to 17 properties in the local market, representing as many as 1,548 units and 67 percent of 2,304 total units in the resort.
Nightly hotel rates, meanwhile, jumped more than 11 percent over last year’s tally in Aspen, going from $409 per room night in 2012 to $455 this winter.
In Snowmass, where MTRiP monitors 10 properties and 1,455 hotel rooms and condos, occupancy stayed flat over last year at 66.6 percent. But, much like Aspen, the room rate jumped significantly.
Snowmass’ average daily rate in January was $390, up nearly 10 percent over last year’s average. That’s largely a result of more than $100 million in room and amenity improvements at Aspen’s Hotel Jerome and the Westin Snowmass Resort, putting a larger number of higher-priced rooms on the market.
Advance bookings for February in Snowmass have skyrocketed nearly 20 percent over last year’s reservations. As of the end of January, Snowmass was more than 70 percent booked for this month. That’s due largely to Mardi Gras and President’s Day falling on different weekends this year, drawing droves of South Americans for the former and domestic vacationers for the latter.
“It’s helpful when we have those two holidays back to back, rather than on top of each other,” said Tomcich.
Snowmass is on track to be more than 80 percent full through early March, with the exception of mid-week next week, when occupancy is expected to drop to about 60 percent.
Advance bookings for February in Aspen, as of Jan. 31, were pacing slightly ahead of last year’s occupancy, at 63.2 percent.
As a series of snowstorms have hit Aspen and Snowmass in recent weeks, resort leaders are hopeful that word on the high quality of ski conditions here will spread — beefing up bookings for the tail end of the season and increasing last-minute vacations from skiers looking to get into fresh snow.
“The biggest other factor always is snow,” Tomcich said. “Now that we seem to be getting some, that will be the wild card for how March plays out.”