Business picked up with the belated arrival of snowstorms in the second half of February, but it was not enough to enable lodging establishments in Park City and other Western mountain resorts to keep pace with the previous year.
Hotels and lodging properties at Utah resorts filled 70.4 percent of their rooms last month, an improvement over a weak January. For the two months, occupancy levels have averaged 66.1 percent nightly, down from 70.8 percent for the same period in 2017, according to the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.
Offsetting that decline was an 11 percent increase in nightly room rates. A year ago, the going nightly charge for a room at a Utah resort was $332. In January and February this year, the report said, the tab was up to $369 a night.
Resort housing properties across the West mirrored that trend, albeit less extravagantly.
Among the 290 property management companies tracked at 20 mountain destinations in Utah and six other Western states by Vermont-based Inntopia, occupancy in February was down 2.9 percent while the nightly room rate climbed 5.2 percent.
Bookings were especially bad — down 4.4 percent — at the beginning of the month, when the weather was far more conducive to golfing than skiing. The weather pattern finally broke over Presidents Day weekend, ushering in a series of storms for the rest of the month.
But, as Inntopia vice president of business intelligence Tom Foley said, “While the fresh snow was great for February [bookings], it isn’t having much impact on the remainder of the season.”
Reservations are down 2.6 percent for the full season, which runs from November through April. The biggest dips were recorded in two months that are usually among the busiest — December and January, Foley said.
Once again, higher room rates are filling in the gap. They are projected to be up 3.3 percent for the full winter season, leading to a 0.7 percent revenue gain for property managers who control 30,000 rooms in Colorado, California, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Montana and Utah.
Park City aside, hotel occupancy rates statewide and in Salt Lake County were basically flat.
Salt Lake County hotels filled 78.4 percent of their rooms nightly last month, up from 78.0 percent in the same month a year earlier. Statewide, the occupancy rate inched up from 71.9 percent to 72.6 percent, the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report said.
In contrast to the resort experience, urban hoteliers saw their nightly rates go down by $2 a night in Salt Lake and 25 cents per room elsewhere in Utah.
Occupancy rates for the year’s first two months are up in Davis County (6 percent) and Utah County (4.4 percent) but slipped 1.2 percent in St. George and less than a percentage point in Ogden, Cedar City, Logan and other parts of the state.