Despite low snowfall in the winter and this summer's wildfires, mountain lodging businesses are seeing increases in occupancy from the previous year in Utah and three other Western states.
The Denver-based Mountain Travel Research Program said reservations were up 16.2 percent in June in its sampling of 265 resorts in 16 mountain destinations in Utah, Colorado, California and Oregon.
"Strong advanced reservation activity is looking very solid in many destinations," said Ralf Garrison, the research program's director. "Special events occurring in early summer are already proving their value as both attraction and momentum builders. Destinations that have established lively summer calendars are attracting guests and very solid early bookings."
The Mountain Travel Research Program report said bookings were up 17.7 percent for the next six months despite the fires burning in the state.
Utah's overall lodging numbers are also seeing slight increases in occupancy. According to the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, hotels and motels in the state filled 2.4 percent more rooms nightly in the first five months of 2012 than in 2011. The average daily rate for a room was up $5 from last year.
Although reservations were lower than the average in the Mountain Travel report, Jordan Garn, executive director of the Utah Hotel and Lodging Association, is optimistic that summer booking numbers will come in higher.
"We're obviously headed in the right direction," Garn said. "All indications are that we are trending upward. We would like to see it go a little faster, but we are optimistic we will see increases over 2011."
Ogden, Davis County, St. George and Logan all saw slight declines in occupied rooms in May, compared with last year. Salt Lake County, home to more than half of the rooms surveyed in the Rocky Mountain report, saw a 3.7 increase in occupancy from last year and a $6 increase in its average daily rate.
"Hoteliers are excited about the business coming in," Garn said. "Everything I hear is consistent with the report numbers."