Drop in occupancy at western mountain resorts could stretch into winter

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, like all regional ski resorts, saw an abundance of snow this past winter.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, like all regional ski resorts, saw an abundance of snow this past winter.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A combination of lower occupancy and higher rates that started last winter for overnight visits at western mountain resorts, including the Tahoe Basin, continued through the summer months, industry data showed.

The monthly DestiMetrics Market Briefing report also hints at a soft winter season ahead, as bookings made in August for the six-month period of August 2017 to January 2018 were down 10.6 percent when compared with the same six-month period last year.

Further muddling the outlook were bookings for key months of December 2017 and January 2018, which were down 16.7 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, when compared with the same months a year earlier.

Lodging figures revealed occupancy was down 0.5 percent for May through August compared with May through August 2016. That marked the first summer seasonal decrease in six years, according to the DestiMetrics report.

Dragging down the visitor figure was a weak August in which occupancy was down 1.2 percent when compared with August 2016.

Conversely, total revenue among participating mountain resorts in eight western states was up 7.5 percent from the same period a year ago. The increase in revenue was the result of higher, average daily room rates in the western states, which consist of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

“There has been a fundamental shift in lodging performance patterns that was slow to emerge coming out of mid-winter, but is now firmly established,” Ralf Garrison, an adviser to Innotopia for DestiMetrics, said in a statement.

Innotopia, a Vermont-based business intelligence company, acquired DestiMetrics earlier this year.

“The is the first summer since 2009 that we’ve seen industrywide year-over-year declines in occupancy although strong gains in rate have kept revenues well above previous year’s figures,” he added.

“There are several potential forces that may be contributing to the sluggish occupancy in recent months, led by increases in room rates but other variables such as available inventory compared to previous years may also be playing a role,” Tom Foley, vice president of business intelligence for Innotopia, said in a statement.

“And, looking ahead, the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey, particularly in the Houston area which is home to many destination skiers and snowboarders for Colorado and Utah resorts, may also impact mountain travel in those destinations this winter. However, it is unlikely that Harvey played a role in the August booking pace numbers.”


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