Mountain lodging seeing summer uptick out West

Summer occupancy and revenue figures at mountain destinations across the Rocky Mountains and West are up and trending positive for a strong summer.
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Summer occupancy and revenue figures at mountain destinations across the Rocky Mountains and West are up and trending positive for a strong summer, officials at Denver-based DestiMetrics said this week.

It’s welcome news for the region that has battled recent forest fires, floods and the temporary shutdown of the National Parks, while still managing to increase the summer figures three years in a row.

This year’s summer season is off to a good start, ironically thanks to the long winter winter, said DestiMetrics Director Ralf Garrison.

“The ski season lingered well into May, and 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,” he said. May occupancy levels were up 8 percent and revenue rose 14.3 percent from a year ago.

Looking ahead, occupancy based on reservations for May through October 2014 is expected to rise 7 percent with revenues forecasted up 11.8 percent. Plenty of snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, particularly Colorado, is forecasted to make for a good wildflower season in the mountains as this Wall Street Journal article points out.

But it’s not all rosy out West, said DestiMetrics’ Director of Operations Tom Foley.

“Although the U.S. economic indicators we track have been consistently positive in the past few months, we can’t put on blinders about possible dampers to the summer travel season,” he said. “We know geo-politics are driving up fuel prices, cutting into discretionary money for lodging, shopping and activities while traveling, and potentially shortening stays.”

The continued drought in California and other Southwest regions could also affect tourism either by lower recreational water levels, or increased wildfire potential.

“Overall, the summer season from May actuals to bookings through October, is very strong,” Garrison said. “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.”

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.

--David Clucas

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