Breckenridge sees ‘perfect storm of growth’ in 2013-14 ski season bookings |

Breckenridge sees ‘perfect storm of growth’ in 2013-14 ski season bookings

Kelsey Fowler
A bowler takes a shot at One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge last December. Breckenridge lodges are celebrating high increases in bookings over last year's numbers.
File Photo / Summit Daily News |

With plenty of powder packing the hills, the lodging industry in Breckenridge is seeing a supreme start to the season so far.

Toby Babich, president of Breckenridge Resort Managers, said bookings in Breckenridge continue to grow both in daily rate and frequency. He said looking at the pacing for January 2014, he anticipates businesses will continue to build on the recent lodging tax increase.

“This year’s holiday bookers continued to secure their lodging further in advance, pushing booking patterns into the late summer months,” he said. “The combination of early demand, and early snow, has resulted in a very strong holiday period for most lodging businesses.”

Across the High Country as well, resorts are seeing increased bookings, thanks in large part to early season snow. The Denver Post reports by the end of November in Aspen and Snowmass, lodging reservations were ahead of last year for every day of December.

Babich said the increase in demand has pushed occupancy and revenue past last year’s numbers for his company. He said the lodging industry in town seems to be on track for sustained winter growth: 2 to 12 percent growth in occupancy, and 5 to 7 percent in rate for the remainder of the season, he said.

“Looking ahead to these positive signs for this season, after solid growth last season, the potential economic growth is very exciting for the Breckenridge business community,” Babich said.

Jack Wolfe, president of Wolfe & Company Real Estate, said retail sales are also on the rise: 15 percent more than in 2012 on a year-to-date basis through the end of October. Though Breckenridge occupancy was down 1.2 percent in September compared to 2012, the town’s occupancy pacing from October to March is up 14 percent compared to the same period.

“We’d never experienced such a major downturn before,” he said, referring to the 2008 recession. “A lot of the growth can be attributed to the resort industry as a whole recovering. Partly it’s people feeling better and getting back out to vacation more, but part of it is real, organic growth.”

Babich said Breckenridge is currently experiencing a positive combination of early snow, stable economic conditions, unique marketing opportunities and repeat visitors that all contribute to a favorable season.

“Any increase in occupancy we are able to experience translates to downstream revenue for almost every other business sector in Breckenridge,” he said. “In addition to lodging companies, restaurants, retail, rental companies and even real estate companies all benefit from more people in town, spending more money.”

While all signs point to a positive season for Breckenridge, Babich said adverse conditions could certainly still impact that direction.

“It is important to note that due to the nature of our destination — visitors who can decide on their vacation plans within a week of departure — our continued increases and positive trends can change overnight,” he said. “However for now, this perfect storm of conditions appears to be settling in, and hitting us hard.”

Wolfe said while he has signed many new leases this year, he is currently handling three businesses on Main Street who are looking to sell as well.

“There’s still a lot of excitement on Main Street with opening Peak 6,” he said. “We all know it’s going to happen, and it may lead to higher sales too.”

“At this point in our winter season, we appear to have a perfect storm of growth leading us towards lodging numbers we have not seen since 2007,” Babich said. “Rather than one factor becoming the driving mechanism behind modest growth, we have a group of key elements joining to boost sustained growth through the entire winter season.”

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