Summit County holds steady in early season, while Colo. skier visits lag |

Summit County holds steady in early season, while Colo. skier visits lag

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Despite a healthy dose of snow in December, skier visits at 21 resorts across Colorado fell 11.5 percent during the first part of the season compared to 2011, according to data collected by Colorado Ski Country USA.

But in Summit County, business held fairly steady to the prior year between the start of the ski season and the end of the year, occupancy and sales data for several local towns show.

Vail Resorts reported a 2 percent increase in skier visits through the holiday season, noting a rise in use by season pass holders, according to a financial earnings statement released earlier this month.

Lift ticket, ski school, dining and retail revenues were all up during the first part of the season as well, though the numbers are not broken down by resort.

Locally, Vail Resorts owns Keystone Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort, but the financial report also includes data from its Eagle County and Tahoe resorts.

In Breckenridge, short-term lodging occupancy was flat in November to the year before. It took a slight 3 percent dip in December, but revenues held steady to 2011 numbers, according to data provided by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.

“When we look at Breckenridge, it’s the diversity here,” BRC spokeswoman Rachel Zerowin said. “People come here to do more than ski.”

Local businesses across the county reported business was generally good through the holiday season.

“I don’t think it’s been a terrible year,” Dillon Dam Brewery manager George Blincoe said. “It’s been a decent year so far.”

For others, the first part of the season was better than decent. Mary Elaine Moore, owner of Stork and Bear Company and Around the World Toys, said her customers seemed to be finding ways to make the most of their visit off the ski slopes when the snow wasn’t falling.

“Our numbers are really strong compared to last year,” Moore said. “I think this year they’ve figured out that even if there isn’t snow, there are things to do up here.”

Industry officials attributed the statewide dip in skier visits to on-again off-again snowfall, which delayed openings at some resorts.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days,” Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills stated in a recent release of the period between opening day and Dec. 31. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December, but when it came, it was in time for in-state and out-of-state guests to enjoy wonderful wintery holidays at resorts.”

Vail Resorts’ financial data reflected a similar trend of a lull in business until the snow began to stack up in December.

“We were very pleased to see that once more typical conditions arrived at our resorts, we saw very strong visitation and guest spending,” VR CEO Rob Katz stated in a release earlier this month.

Breck got 25 inches of snow in December, a number on par with the 20-year average for the month, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Vail Daily reporter Lauren Glendenning contributed to the reporting of this story.

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