Even though this is the second consecutive Presidents Day holiday with a decline in the estimated number of visitors, businesses are expecting another strong holiday weekend in Park City as guests come to town.
With more snow earlier in the season, properties across Park City and across the nation are enjoying higher reservation rates than this time last year as more people are taking advantage of the snow. But with more snowfall nationwide, competition has also ramped up.
"Traditionally, this is a very strong holiday weekend for us," said Bill Malone, the Park City Chamber/Bureau President and CEO. "The numbers may be a little off from last year, but it still looks very close.
"I am hearing that overall February reservations very strong. What is on the books in March is very strong. We have a good rest of season shaping up."
Estimated lodging numbers have dipped slightly this year, but the number of guests visiting remained relatively high during the weak snow season last year, meaning that drop is less significant comparatively.
Lodging numbers, or estimated visitor nights, are a key indicator of the number of guests in town. According to data collected by the Chamber, the 3.2 percent drop from this year to last a total of 97,777 estimated visitor nights remains relatively high. In the 2010-11 winter season, strong snowfall and a record-breaking season put estimated lodging numbers at 101,600 estimated visitor nights. During the 2011-12 season, that number dropped just more than 600 estimated visitor nights, a total of 100,993.
"We're near capacity this weekend," said Anthony Dartholomew, the general manager of The Lodges at Deer Valley. "The booking window is much more short-term this year we're finding, and that is based on the bookings from January and February. We expect March will be the same, but we are in good shape."
"Last year, people may have made reservations many months in advance. This year, they are waiting on the favorable snow reports, which we fortunately have."
The weeks in between holidays are performing stronger than last year. To date, the entire month of February has seen a positive trend in lodging numbers, with this holiday weekend the first to dip.
Last week, numbers for the month were up by 6.2 percent, a trend lodging properties expect to continue with the season. Even with the slight drop from previous years, Malone said he has heard positive reports for the rest of the month and into March.
"I think that generally there are two numbers that have a lot to do with our reservations in winter: snowfall and the stock market," Malone said. "Both are up from last year."
"Last year, we seemed to have a strong Christmas and then steadily underperformed throughout the year," he added. "This year, it is the exact opposite. We've been picking up momentum, in bookings and reservations throughout winter."