Occupancy growth slowing in western mountain resorts
Winter bookings in western U.S. mountain resorts are showing less robust year-over-year growth in 2015 than in recent years, according to Denver-based DestiMetrics.
The resort analyst firm attributed the shrinking growth to decreases in consumer confidence caused by increased economic volatility in both international and national markets in a press release.
“With one of the strongest Novembers we’ve ever reported and the reality of El Niño starting to deliver at most of our participating western destinations, anticipated bookings into December and the peak months of January and February should be showing strength,” said DestiMetrics Director Ralf Garrison in a press release.
“Instead, the data is showing softness and several anomalies and patterns that are inconsistent with recent history, leaving some of our resorts scratching their heads.”
DestiMetrics collects data from 19 resorts, including Winter Park Resort, in six states in the Western United States.
Winter Park Resort does not release booking data to the public.
In November, occupancy for those resorts was up 10.7 percent and revenues were up 15.4 percent over the last year, according to DestiMetrics.
The strong growth carried into December, but occupancy faltered in the days immediately surrounding Christmas Day weekend.
“Going into 2016, consumers are cautious overall and expect little change in the job market – and that could cause confidence to remain stagnant in the coming months,” said DestiMetrics Operations Director Tom Foley. “On the positive side, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a slight increase in November and has now recovered the August and September losses. However, we’ll be watching closely how investors and consumers react to the Federal Reserve’s announcement to increase interest rates.”
As of Dec. 18, bookings for January and February 2016 were down 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent from 2015 respectively.
DestiMetrics pointed to a sharp decline in the Consumer Confidence Index and slowing or erratic growth in financial markets as reasons for the reduction in pace.
But Garrison added, “a number of variables could be influencing these anomalies.”
DestiMetrics did highlight some positive economic developments including a stable unemployment rate, an increase in the workforce participation rate and job growth in November, as well as resort-specific boons like increased snowfall in the far western states and the merger of Park City and The Canyons resorts, which Garrison said could spur competition with Rocky Mountain resorts.
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Winter Park has started processing property owners’ applications for the new Short Term Fix program with the hope of moving employees into housing as quickly as possible.