Lodging business is making an overall slow recovery in Summit County
DILLON — Lodging is open in Summit County, but while some lodging businesses are bouncing back quickly, others are waiting on further loosening of restrictions to bring back core business.
Lodging opened across Summit County on June 1 after months of empty hotels, condos and short-term rentals. Now nearing the end of the first month open after the shutdown, occupancy in Summit County is still low compared to typical June numbers, but it is no longer nonexistent.
“April and May were basically unoccupied due to the Summit County Public Health Order — essential workers made up what little occupancy there was in town. As of May 31, Inntopia’s Destimetrics reported that Breckenridge’s June occupancy is down 77% (year over year),” Breckenridge Tourism Office Public Relations Director Austyn Dineen said in an email.
Breckenridge Lodging Association President Toby Babich said that while things aren’t “back to normal,” people are excited to be open in any capacity.
“People are excited to open. It’s just nice to be able to function again and actually feel like we’re back in business but in terms of the business levels, we’re not seeing any dramatic spikes in demand,” Babich said.
Babich reported DestiMetrics industry numbers for Breckenridge, which show, in addition to June occupancy being down nearly 80%, July is anticipated to be about 50% down with August down about 30%. The overall aggregate summer total is down about 50% in occupancy. Babich said that while “it’s nice to be open,” the lodging industry is still really struggling.
As for operations, Babich said he felt the governor’s order gave good guidance, but that it is open to interpretation in some areas. For example, the order says that lodging facilities should wait 24 hours after guests have left a room before cleaning, but there is no mandate. He said guests have been appreciative of the efforts being made to look out for their safety, but that more often guests aren’t as concerned with the cleaning process and are mainly asking questions about cancellation policies and if certain amenities are open.
Babich, who is also president of Breckenridge Resort Managers, said his company is performing slightly better than the DestiMetrics report as he said the company is so far down 35% year over year as an aggregate summer from June to September.
He said that while the numbers aren’t great, they will allow the company to persevere through the summer to get to winter. Babich noted that the majority of his guests are in-state visitors with over half coming from the front range, or those who can drive to the area, such as visitors from Texas and Kansas.
He said that Summit County has been a desirable place to visit as there are a lot of activities people can do while physical distancing — hiking, lake activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding, biking, etc. and that people have been especially grateful to vacation this summer.
“I think we’ve done a phenomenal job up here of education, of really informing people of what to expect when they get here and how they should behave while they are here in terms of masks, social distancing, washing hands…We’ve really made a nice, safe and I think secure destination up here,” Babich said. “There is a genuine excitement amongst our business community to see life in our town again.”
Conference traffic is down
Unfortunately, limits to group sizes, which currently allow 50% of a spaces’ normal capacity to be met, have negatively impacted lodging facilities that host conferences and events as a major source of business.
Bruce Horii, Director of Sales and Marketing at Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center, said that the typical business model of the resort is generally to host conferences during the week and vacationers on the weekends. In the summer, Horii said conferences usually make up about 65% of the resort’s business.
“With (conference business) being lost, we’ve had to definitely get more aggressive on the front range and the drive market…Because we’re big and have so much inventory we’ve gotten a lot more creative and even gone into an extended stay model for some of our units.
Horii said these extended stays are 30 days or more and that the resort is finding that people are coming up to use the resort as their “home away from home” and working remotely from Summit County.
As for target occupancy percentages, the resort is targeting the low teens according to Horri. He said the resort is working with the Colorado Hotel Lodging Association to try to bring back small groups in compliance with restrictions. Horri noted that Beaver Run has been getting a lot of out-of-state visitors — around 60% — as the drive market has extended to the midwest and neighboring states beyond the usual Texas visitors. He said the resort has been pushing for weekend stays and is seeing those numbers start to increase.
Timeshares report strong showing
Breckenridge Grand Vacations has a different story as it operates in the timeshare industry. CEO Mike Dudick reported that occupancy is very strong with occupancy levels on track to be equal to 2019 levels.
“My owners have already bought their time. They’ve already paid for the lodging in one respect so they’re really calling in to make a reservation for what they’ve already paid for. With that said our owners also have privilege to rent additional time from us and that’s through the roof.
As for people who don’t have fractional ownership at BGV, Dudick said the call volume for non-owners to rent properties is up 50% year over year.
He said he is very optimistic about the future of the vacation and hospitality industry in Breckenridge. Dudick noted that he has observed people being very eager to be on vacation. Breckenridge Grand Vacation is following county and state health requirements but has instilled some company policies that go beyond requirements, such as the use of ultraviolet light technology to disinfect rooms and common areas. Dudick said that guests have been compliant with the safety protocols and that since reopening only one person has complained about restrictions to a point that rose above talking with the front desk attendant out of around a thousand guests that have come to their properties.
“Everybody gets it, they accept some of the realities, they understand the mask protocols, they understand what we’re doing in reservations to use amenities, things like that, people understand…my experience so far is that they’re willing to live with safety protocols that we have in place in order to be on vacation,” Dudick said.
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