Aspen, Snowmass Anticipate Strong Summer Occupancy Rate

Aspen, Snowmass Anticipate Strong Summer Occupancy Rate

When it comes to occupancy rates for lodging in Aspen and Snowmass this past ski season, looks were deceiving.

Despite the 2023-24 winter season’s occupancy rate being down 4.1% compared to the previous year, two Aspen resorts and hotels — Aspen Meadows Resort and MOLLIE Aspen — added a combined 166 rooms in local inventory. The 14% increase in rooms led to a 59% occupancy rate to close out the winter season.

One reason for the numbers being down, however, was a decrease in Australian visitors — attributed to higher airfare costs — and the reopening of Japan post-COVID-19, which drew regular visitors elsewhere, according to the most recent occupancy report devised by Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo), the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (Chamber), and Snowmass Tourism.

But amid the decrease, room nights sold during winter increased 3.3% due to more available inventory. 

“The occupancy rates were down a little more in Aspen, but the number of available rooms is up. This is because Snowmass didn’t add any rooms,” said Jeff Hanle, vice president of communications for SkiCo. “All and all, for us as a destination community, (it’s) a pretty good report.”

Aspen experienced a 6.9% decrease in winter occupancy rates from the previous year, but still ended with a 60.3% occupancy rate. In addition, the number of rooms occupied in Aspen rose by 5.8% due to “The MOLLIE Aspen opening, the Aspen Meadows being fully open (last year under renovation), and a shift in owner use of condominium units throughout the winter,” the report states.

Snowmass also showed continued growth and stability in the report, with only a 1.1% increase in inventory compared to the previous year. Overall, Snowmass saw a 0.6% rise in occupancy and a 1.7% increase in rooms occupied year-over-year, according to the report.

Meanwhile, both March and April showed strong occupancy rates.

March was driven by the World Cup, spring break travelers, and group business visitors. April then saw a 4.5% increase in occupancy between Aspen and Snowmass compared to April 2023. Aspen itself achieved a 35.5% occupancy while Snowmass ended April with 42.6% — a whopping 27.9% higher than last year. 

The significant April increase was driven by Nastar Nationals, as well as a bump in Latin American visitation in Snowmass associated with Semana Pascua, the second week of the Easter holiday, according to the report.

“The last couple of years have been strong,” said Hanle. “Once the rebound from COVID happened, people started getting out more and traveling more. It’s a good report. We had a good season, and the second half of the season really lit up.”

Looking ahead, summer occupancy rates for both resorts are promising, showing an expected 1.6% increase.

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) reported growth in winter passenger numbers, with a 12% increase from the previous year. From December to April, ASE had 186,233 departing passengers, setting a new record and surpassing the 2017/18 record by 7%. Despite this significant increase, the average annual growth rate stands at 1.33% when using 2018/19 as a baseline, aligning with the 20-year commercial aviation forecast, the report states.

“Our airport is a great airport,” Hanle said. “It’s super convenient to town, and it’s always done well and continues to perform.”

ASE, which temporarily closed in early May for pavement maintenance, is scheduled to reopen at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. United Airlines will resume its full summer schedule once the airport is operational again. Delta Airlines will start daily flights from both Atlanta (ATL) and Los Angeles (LAX), while American Airlines will reinstate daily nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). American plans to expand to its complete summer schedule by June 5.


By: Westley Crouch I The Aspen Times I May 23, 2024

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