Reservations down as snowfall stalls
December 20, 2011
Winter resort towns live and die by the snowfall each year. Precarious though it is, Park City usually manages to pull in thousands of visitors in a single weekend during peak times in the season, peak times like Christmas.
Despite positive projections for the entire season, lodging reports released from the Park City Chamber of Commerce show every week but one this month down in reservations from last year. The reason is simple: snowfall. Or in Park City’s case, a lack of snowfall.
"I think if you were to talk to lodging folks three weeks ago, everything was obviously pretty strong in terms of reservations," said Bill Malone, president of the Park City Chamber/Bureau. "Christmas is a very busy time for us, but in these last few weeks, a drop in reservations have been related to snow."
According to the chamber report, lodging is down by 4.9 percent for the week leading up to Christmas Day from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24. From Nov. 27 to Dec. 24, hotel reservations averaged a 4 percent loss in the number of guests.
"Many people who would fill the hotels who didn’t make early reservations were waiting for snow," Malone said. "We’re down a couple of percentage points, but who knows? If we get snow in the next couple of weeks we may see that turn around pretty fast."
"What’s on the books is still pretty strong," Malone added.
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Jessica Kunzer of Ski Utah said there was definitely a correlation between vacation bookings and snowfall at the resorts.
"This could be true for the Christmas holiday," said Kunzer, "but I’m sure a few storms will quickly turn that around. We’re still optimistic for season."
The National Climatic Data Center reported approximately zero to five inches of snowfall to date in nearly all of Northern Utah. As of Tuesday morning, the three resorts in Park City had a mid-mountain snow average between 18 and 26 inches, with a combined 113 runs open out of a total of 396 trails and runs.
In 2010, Utah had record snowfall levels that kept many resorts open into May and June. Snowbird Ski Resort was open on the Fourth of July with a record-breaking 783 inches through the season.
"If you get up on the slopes and ski the conditions are really fun," Kunzer said. "We’ve had cold temps resorts have been able to make a lot of snow."
Malone said at the end of the day, projections are still showing growth in tourism for Park City, meaning more advanced hotel bookings than in past years.
"I think we’ve been building reservations the last two years in terms of the holidays,’ Malone said. "But snow is the great equalizer in all of this. We have to wait to see what really happens this season. We can very easily be pleasantly surprised still."
"There’s still a lot of business to be brought in and a lot of that business is based on one variable," Malone said, "snow."
Some resorts are already reporting that pleasant surprise, even over Christmas when overall reservations are down. Teri Whitney of Snow Flower Condominiums said bookings were up by 26 percent for December.