By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post
The holiday snow in the high country arrived too late to rescue lodgekeepers in December but boosted bookings for January and February.
The latest Mountain Travel Research Program — or MTRiP — survey of 160 property management companies in 16 western resort communities shows December 2012 lodging occupancy finished 7.9 percent behind the previous December. But the average daily room rate climbed for the 19th consecutive month, increasing 2.6 percent over December 2011.
Still, the late snow that followed a dismally dry November and early December helped. Reservations heading into December were down 12.3 percent.
“What a difference a month makes,” said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP, in a statement released Wednesday, Jan. 16. “Mother Nature finally delivered some much needed snow from coast to coast just in time for the Christmas holidays and the fresh powder really helped fill some December lodging vacancies at ski resorts as well as generating buzz and bookings for January and February.”
The snow also stirred bookings for the rest of the season, with December bookings through May up 10.4 percent over last season. January bookings climbed 3.5 percent and February is up 8.6 percent.
On Tuesday, Vail Resorts reported a strong holiday, with visitation up 2 percent through January 13, lift ticket revenue up 4.3 percent, ski school revenue up 2.9 percent, dining up 9 percent and retail revenue up 7.7 percent over the same period last season.
Still, the holiday boost wasn’t enough to overcome the dry start to the season. On Tuesday Vail Resorts lowered its early season projections of $260 million to $270 million in resort EBITDA for the season to $244 million to $254 million. Still that represents a 19 percent to 24 percent increase over last season.
“While we are very pleased with our strong holiday season performance, the challenging early season contributed to season-to-date results that were below what we had anticipated in our guidance originally issued in September 2012,” said Vail Resorts chief Rob Katz in the statement released Tuesday, Jan. 15. “As a result, we do not believe we can fully make up those shortfalls during the remainder of our fiscal year.”