Christmas bookings on the flat side in Breckenridge
December 21, 2011
While the Dew Tour seemed to bring the business to Breckenridge last weekend, Christmas looks to be dragging just a little bit behind last year. The lack of new snow hasn’t helped.
The most recent Breckenridge Resort Chamber Occupancy Forecast showed Christmas Eve and Christmas pacing flat to slightly behind 2010, with daily lodging occupancy levels around 55-60 percent.
“The outlook for Christmas and New Year’s is a tale of two weekends. Christmas week is definitely behind last year, specifically the 24th and 25th,” said Toby Babich, president of the Breckenridge Lodging Association. “However, New year’s week in very strong and demand has remained strong and stable with a big push for last minute bookings. Many seeking a deal will be out of luck due to the current New Year’s fill, but could probably find a good deal during Christmas week.”
Despite lower lodging bookings, many of the town’s restaurants are already full for Christmas Eve and Christmas, on pace with last year, according to Ken Nelson, president of the Breckenridge Restaurant Association.
“Our outlook for the last two weeks here is optimistic,” he said.
Chris Tennal, owner of Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge, said his December sales were neck-in-neck with last year’s up until a couple of days ago, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since last December was “the best December ever.” His store tends to draw a lot of loyal locals, and he doesn’t usually see many visitors until after the holiday season, anyway.
Sheri Shelton, owner of Hand in Glove in Breckenridge, said she’s hearing about the same results from fellow town retailers. Sales are on par with last year at the same time, which were better than the 2009, although one usually expects it to increase each year, Shelton said. Since her store is more on the “high-end” side, business has been a little quiet, but she’s looking forward to seeing more lodging customers roll into town.
Visits to Breckenridge restaurants also seemed to be improved for this past weekend, compared to the same time last year. Nelson, who also owns Briar Rose, Empire Burger and Giampietro Pasta and Pizzeria in Breckenridge, said he saw “good apres-ski crowds,” and large numbers at City Market, which is “usually a good way to judge it.”
“I think the Dew Tour was a great success,” Nelson said. “The numbers were improved over last year – certainly there was more with the Breck birthday bash.”
“The week prior to Christmas did fill early this year,” Babich said. “The major factors in the strength of this weekend were the exquisite holiday atmosphere in Breckenridge, the Dew Tour, and the fact that lodging and lift ticket rates do not peak until around the 19th of December.”
“We’re seeing the very peak seasons that are priced the highest are a little bit softer,” said Ralf Garrison, director of Mountain Travel Research Program, which analyzes market conditions for mountain resorts throughout the western United States. In a down economy, it’s that “price resistance to holiday prices.” Also, when the holiday falls on a weekend, it tends to create “unruly” vacation patterns.
But, despite the possiblity of a flat to slower Christmas in Breckenridge, mountain bookings across the whole western region are looking up, Garrison said.
“Obviously, the big talk is about snow,” Nelson said. “That would be a great Christmas present … a three-day storm.”