Local Lodges Report Brisk Business for Early Season – Vail Daily

By Scott N. Miller










“The buzz on the Front Range about early-

season snow is palpable,” said Ralf Garrison,

director of the Mountain Travel

Research Program, a consulting company

that analyzes business at Western mountain

resorts. “It’s been a dominant subject of conversation


Garrison added that the “timing couldn’t

be better” for the early-season storms that

have come to the mountain resorts.

“There’s snow you ski on, and there’s snow

you market with,” Garrison said. “Early snow

creates buzz — it gets people excited.”

And people who ski on great early snow

also tend to make reservations for later in

the season, Garrison said.

While the snow is driving early-season

business, reservation numbers were starting

to perk up even before the weather turned


Garrison’s company reports that reservations

taken in October for stays in November

were up more than 14 percent from last year.

Reservations for the rest of the winter taken

in October also were running ahead of last

year’s pace.

While the country remains mired in an

economic slump, Garrison said Americans

still view vacation travel as a “birthright.”

“We don’t have to create market demand,”

Garrison said. “But the extra time and money

is needed to get people to move.”

That helps explain the continued trend of

people making reservations closer to the

dates they’ll travel.

“The experts don’t expect that to change

for a couple of years anyway,” Trotter said,

adding that a couple of major factors are at

work — financial uncertainty along with the

knowledge there will be rooms available

when they call.

Still, people are calling and seem to be

more willing to pay higher prices.

At the Mountain Haus, general manager

Steve Hawkins said while bookings are up

from last year, money collected is down.

“Some people don’t want to pay the 50

percent deposit we’ve required,” Hawkins


On the other side of that, though,

Hawkins said that his lodge is using fewer

discounts than it did last year.

While the Mountain Haus has a strong

core of return customers, the relatively new

Westin Riverwalk is still building a fan base,

so it’s being careful about its room rates.

“We’re raising rates incrementally —

we’re still a maturing resort,” Trotter said.

“And, of course, there are deals out there.”

While mountain resorts overall seem to

be on a gradual climb up, Garrison said Vail

and Beaver Creek may be poised to take

advantage of the day when consumers feel

better because those resorts are close

enough to draw Front Range skiers but tony

enough to draw destination guests, too.

“Resorts are getting better about (drawing

guests), and consumers are getting better

about doing the things they’re passionate

about,” Garrison said. “Everyone’s learning

how to cope, and it’s giving us a bit of

EAGLE COUNTY — Snow is good.

As local ski resorts revel in the best earlyseason

snow in years, local lodges are

reporting good news from their reservation

desks. It’s not 2007-type good news, of

course, but after the past couple of years,

most of us now accept that any numbers

better than those posted in 2009 are welcome

signs of progress.

Vail on Sale, a website run by the Vail Valley

Partnership for hotel deals booked no

more than three weeks in advance, is up 12

percent over the same period last year.

Bookings at the Mountain Haus in Vail

Village are up, too, as are reservations at the

Westin Riverwalk in Avon.

“We’re very pleased with the way the season

is shaping up,” Westin general manager

Bob Trotter said, adding that reservations at

his place are “significantly ahead” of last year.

Snow is a big part of the equation, of


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