Winter bookings at mountain resorts in the West are on track to reach pre-recession levels, according to Denver-based DestiMetrics.
Bookings for November through April are up 8.7 percent compared to last ski season, with revenues up 14 percent, said Ralf Garrison, director of the company formerly known as Mountain Travel Research Program. That means resorts already have reservations for half of the rooms they filled last winter, before the season has even started.
Deer Valley Resort was named North America’s best ski area at the inaugural World Ski Awards program last weekend in Kitzbühel, Austria. The awards were created to “reward excellence in ski tourism,” sponsors said.
"This is the most positive monthly analysis we have assembled since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008," said Garrison. His firm collects data from 274 property management companies overseeing 26,000 room in 17 mountain destination communities in Utah and five other states — Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming.
But before anybody gets too excited, he said two factors could put a damper on the strong start.
The weather, as always, could spoil matters. Limited snow often means cancellations and reduced interest in booking ski vacations. In addition, Garrison said, prospects of another government shutdown in January and heated political squabbling in Washington, D.C., over the debt ceiling could alter travel plans.
Still, he said, stock markets remain solid, unemployment rates are dropping slowly and destination visitors are more confident about the economy than average Americans.
Resorts also are heading into winter with some of their strongest summer performances to date, both in terms of occupancy and average nightly charges. "Only recently have we seen this kind of consistent growth," Garrison said. "A strong summer finish surpassed previous record highs set during the pre-recession summer of 2008 and surpassed in 2012 at many destinations."
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