Following a rough winter for visitor nights, Park City hotel and lodging properties were happy to see numbers even out over the summer. It wasn't a great summer, but it was good.
"For summer, I am hearing that numbers are up," said Teri Whitney, General Manager of Snowflower Condominiums and Treasurer for the Park City Area Lodging Association. "I think it has been a good summer for a lot of people."
According to data collected by the Park City Chamber/Visitors Bureau, lodging properties experienced a decline in guests from the year before for January, February and March, the largest in March at a 10.1 percent drop.
Since then, business has been on par or better for June, July and August. Hotels and lodging properties reported a 3.5 percent increase in business in June and a marginal increase of 0.1 percent in July. August dipped slightly by 2.2 percent from the year before.
"It was so bad for so long," said Chris Eggleton, General Manager of Newpark Resort and board member of the Park City Area Lodging Association, "but we started to feel good this summer. There were a few really bright times, which helped fill in what winter didn't bring in."
Eggleton attributed the strong summer at Newpark Resort to group business, conferences and meetings held at the hotel. Before this year, group business booked space with three months or less to the event, where before hotels and lodging properties could expect group business reservations booked out six months or more.
At Westgate Resort, General Manager Brian Waltrip said the resort increased occupancy by 120 percent from last year, making this summer the best on the resort's books.
"What really spiked everything was group business," Waltrip said. "We did a ton It was an unbelievable summer for us."
The Park City Chamber/Visitors Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone described a typical summer as a series of peaks and valleys for hotels and lodging properties, with business centered on events and holidays. But this year, meetings and conventions kept business steadier than in past years.
"We've seen a significant bump in meeting business this summer," Malone said. "Corporate meeting business is coming back strong. And we're continuing to see leads for meetings and conventions, which bodes well for properties with meeting spaces."
According to Malone, the number of leads for group business the Park City Chamber/Visitors Bureau doubled from last year. But with so many visitors coming in for group events, Malone speculated that leisure guests were not as strong as in the past.
"Summer was strong, but could it be better? Yeah," he said. "In leisure business, we have a lot to offer, but a lot of other places have a lot to offer. It's extremely competitive."
Paul Christensen, General Manager of the Park City Marriott, said business was better than last year, but only by single-digit growth which he also attributed to group business such as meetings and weddings.
"Our summer was better than the prior summer," Christensen said. "It was good, but nothing fabulous, nothing that made me jump up and down."
Shoulder-season business was strong for the hotel he added, with one conference pulling in 300 people in September.
With summer come and gone, hotels are starting to focus on their pre-winter bookings, and numbers are weaker than last year, according Malone.
"What I'm hearing for winter and I'm hearing it over and over again from different lodging properties is that January, February and March are looking good when you compare those months to last year at this time. Christmas is problematic, and pre-Christmas reservations are struggling at this point. It's going to take early season snowfall to change that."
Eggleton echoed the sentiment.
"My perspective on 2013 and the pre-winter bookings is that they are not the way they were last year," he said. "And it's because people are waiting to see if snow is going to come."