Now that the holiday season is under way, people are planning their vacations and booking their stays. The question on minds in Summit County is whether or not last year's poor snowfall will affect visitors' plans to travel and stay this season. As a holiday at the start of the winter season, Thanksgiving may be an indicator as to what the future holds.
Although the hard numbers have yet to be compiled and analyzed, indicators from earlier in the month show that, while there hasn't been an increase in the number of lodging bookings in Summit County from last year, there also hasn't been a significant decrease.
"Things for the Thanksgiving weekend were pretty much flat," said Tom Foley, director of Operations at the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). "We're looking at that as not bad news when we consider that last year at the same time we were looking at snow on the ground."
So while there isn't much snow on the ground yet, it seems that hopes are high that it will come. The Breckenridge Welcome Center reported large numbers of people coming through on the Friday after Thanksgiving and continuing until Sunday, where crowds were fewer, most likely due to the fact that Sunday is a traveling day for holiday vacationers.
"Thanksgiving week is close to our occupancy total for the same period last year," said Toby Babich, president of Breckenridge Resort Managers. "Overall, our entire ski season is showing solid growth in occupancy, with a slight decline in overall rate, which has been the pattern for the past several years."
Mountain Managers, which manages vacation rental condominiums and private homes, noticed fewer advanced bookings than usual.
"People just aren't booking as far in advance as they used to," said Lisa Prout, director of reservations at Mountain Managers.
It's likely vacationers are remaining cautious, and the uncertainty over snow is believed to be a contributing factor.
"There are several factors at play, and most of them are out of our control. One of them is most certainly weather," Foley said.
"As we move further into our winter booking season, the driving factor in overall occupancy at the end of the season will be our ability to provide our loyal consumers with the type of on-mountain experience they desire," said Babich. "Out of the gate, reservation volume seems to be running strong, but will fluctuate with the snow we will receive this season. A good snow year will always provide a good booking year. However, as we proved last year, even with average snow, Breckenridge is always a great place to have a memorable vacation."