Summer occupancy at western resorts continues to build |

Summer occupancy at western resorts continues to build

Occupancy and revenues at mountain destinations across the Rocky Mountains and Far West are trending positively and looking strong throughout the summer for the third consecutive year, according to the Mountain Market Briefing released June 16 by Denver-based DestiMetrics, an organization that tracks forward-looking reservation data year-round at mountain resorts.

Kicking off the summer season were the final results for May that finished with an aggregated 8 percent increase in actual occupancy and a 14.3 percent increase in revenues compared to last May.

“May business received a nice boost this year due to last winter’s weather,” noted Ralf Garrison, DestiMetrics’ director. “The ski season lingered well into May at some resorts that extended their ski season, and early enthusiasm for summer vacations and milder conditions may have had a favorable impact on other resorts.”

The monthly report also revealed that among participating western mountain resorts, aggregated occupancy for the summer season defined as May through October, is up 7 percent with revenues up 11.8 percent compared to the same six-month period last year. A closer look at the two regions showed that occupancy rates on-the-books at Far West resorts in California, Nevada and Oregon are currently up 10.1 percent for the full six-month period compared to last year, while the Rocky Mountain destinations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are up 6.8 percent compared to the summer of 2013.

DestiMetrics Director of Operations Tom Foley also provided an analysis of economic conditions including geo-political factors and their potential impact on discretionary spending. Noting that even though the Dow Jones Industrial average set another all-time high on May 30, consumer confidence is up slightly from April, and unemployment remains even at 6.3 percent, the instability in both the Middle East and Eastern Europe could increase oil prices. Foley suggests that increased fuel costs could have a negative impact on the mountain drive markets this summer.

“Although the U.S. economic indicators we track have been consistently positive in the past few months, we can’t put on blinders about two possible dampers to the summer travel season,” Foley observed.

“We know geo-politics are driving up fuel prices, cutting into discretionary money for lodging, shopping and activities while traveling, and potentially shortening stays. But we’re also watching the financial markets, which some believe are oversold and overdue for a correction. Individually, they are moderate, short-term threats but in combination, they could upset the still shaky consumer confidence,” he cautioned.

Despite the words of caution, the tone of the Briefing was upbeat and confident.

“Overall, the summer season from May actuals to bookings through October, is very strong,” assured Garrison. “And one thing we have learned in the past six years of tracking mountain destinations is that visitors to these resorts are resilient; it seems that when times are bad, they ‘need’ a vacation and when times are good, they ‘deserve’ a vacation,” he added.

Data for western resorts is derived from a sample of approximately 290 property management companies in 19 mountain destination communities, representing approximately 27,500 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming and may not reflect the entire mountain destination travel industry. Results may vary significantly among/between resorts and participating properties.

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