Western mountain destinations, Summit lodging properties closing out another banner season
Lodging at western mountain destinations is closing in on its eighth straight year of record-setting revenue as attention starts to shift to spring’s offseason and summer tourism.
“It’s been a very good year,” said Andy Harris, who owns the Fireside Inn Bed & Breakfast in Breckenridge with his wife, Niki.
Like so many others, Harris has noticed a nice uptick in business for the 2018-19 ski season. He said that traffic at the inn has started to die down after the busy winter, but he estimated they’ve seen a 6% increase “across the board” at the cozy, family-run inn for the winter season.
And if you ask the people who track the data across hundreds of western mountain destinations, the question isn’t whether they’ll set another seasonal record, it’s by how much and if the record, or records, will be in occupancy, room rate, revenue or all of the above.
A strong report from March has boosted the likelihood of another seasonal record for mountain western destinations with the month’s occupancy up 7.4% over March 2018 and the average daily rate up 4.4%.
These two factors have combined to produce “a formidable” 12.1% increase in aggregated revenues, according to the latest DestiMetrics market briefing released by Inntopia, which tracks this data.
In the company’s briefing, the firm was “confident” of another record winter, saying that the increase in aggregated actual occupancy for the full six-month season, as well average daily rate, have shaped a nice 6.7% bump in year-to-date revenue, all but ensuring an eighth consecutive record-setting season.
“We had the ‘perfect storm’ situation this season with strong and consistent snowfall coupled with a continued strong economy and optimistic consumers,” explained Tom Foley, the company’s senior vice president of business operations and analytics, in a statement. “It is rare to get that combination in a single season and with the reality of an extended season at many destinations, we expect the final results to be even stronger with another month to go.”
The figures released by Inntopia are based on a sample of nearly 300 participating western property management companies, including some in Summit County, and the report mirrors local trends.
In Frisco, the town’s monthly sales tax reports have shown growing revenues across the town’s lodging sector. Overall, Frisco lodging was up more than 12% in January and February, while the subcategory of hotels and inns was up over 10%. That continues a trend of growth dating back to at least 2014.
The Breckenridge Tourism Office has seen it, too. In Breckenridge, as of March 31, the winter season spanning November through April has seen occupancy rise 7% and revenue up 4% year-over-year, season-over-season, according to figures provided by Austyn Dineen, the tourim office’s public relations director.
With numbers like that, it’s no wonder so many hotel projects are taking shape in Summit County right now. In Silverthorne, work is progressing on The Padd, the Element Hotel and yet another hotel scheduled for Fourth Street Crossing.
Just down the road, Vail Resorts recently sold a Keystone parking lot to developers planning a hotel for the property. That sale follows another agreement, in which a new hotel is going up on land previously owned by Vail Resorts at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge.
That’s just a sample of some of the hotel projects designed to address the growing lodging needs in Summit County, which could be even greater this year, as one of the county’s premiere ski resorts looks to extend its season.
Right now, it’s not exactly clear how an elongated season at Breckenridge Ski Resort might affect late-season lodging, which typically falls off in April and May when the nearby ski resorts start to close.
So far, Breckenridge hasn’t seen any significant shifts due to the resort’s plans to run lifts through the Memorial Day weekend, said Lucy Kay, president and CEO of the Breckenridge Tourism Office, in a recent conversation with town leaders.
That might change in the coming months, she said, “but we’re kind of thinking it could be business as usual.”
With that, Kay said she expects the number of businesses closing for the offseason to be “comparable” to previous years, though the ones that do decide to stay open might see a boost in traffic.
Regardless of what happens in the next couple months, this winter will go down as one of the best in the books so far for lodging at western mountain destinations, including Summit County.
“Once again, the two ‘wild cards’ of the winter season — weather and the economy — are what shaped the 2018-19 season,” Foley said. “Even though we had a couple of wobbles in the economy during the winter months, abundant snowfall picked up the slack occasionally and the overall economic strength helped assure that we’ll be setting a few records, though we will have to wait until the end of April to know just what they will be.”
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