Lodging down from slow snow start
Park City Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone said the busy lodging week preceding Christmas each year is not so busy this year.
"This week, which is the week of Dec. 16 through 22, we are down 24 percent from last year," Malone said of lodging statistics in Park City.
Malone said most visitors who come to Park City for the holidays typically book a couple of months in advance. However, this year, because the snow came a little later than most years, many people decided not to make the trip out to Park City for Christmas.
"We are down [this year] because there was no snow," Malone says. "Typically, Christmas bookings would have taken place several months ago. We got very few calls this year from people looking to come out for Christmas."
Robert Foster from Deer Valley Lodging said he believes the reason lodging is down this year is not necessarily because of the lack of snow, but because Christmas and New Year’s fall on Tuesdays this year. He said many people have booked their vacations after Christmas as a result.
"Because Christmas and New Years are on Tuesdays, we have seen a shift from the normal check-in days on Dec. 25 and 26, which have shifted to Dec. 27 and 28," Foster says. "The length of stay is the same. They still say a week, but they’re not leaving until Jan. 4 or 5."
Foster said another reason visitors might have booked their trips later this season is because last year’s ski season was warmer during March and April. He said many people might have seen the warmer weather patterns and decided to book at a different time this year. He said, because Deer Valley is a destination resort, people typically book their next vacations a year in advance and might have been leery of booking early this year when they saw the lack of snow.
"We finished last year in a fairly warm mode," Foster said. "People certainly remember that. If we start slow again, it has some affect on [bookings]. Without a lot of early snow, you do have some questions about early reservations."
Still, because Deer Valley intentionally opens later in the season, compared to Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons, Foster said he has not yet seen a significant drop in Deer Valley’s lodging numbers this season.
"It has less of an impact on Deer Valley because we opened later and a lot of our clients are destination tourists, coming from far away," Foster said. "When it’s all said and done, we’re in the snow business. I don’t see a significant fall in lodging numbers in Deer Valley."
PCMR spokesperson Paula Fabel said, while PCMR does not manage its own lodging, numbers at the resort look pretty consistent compared to last year. She said, while it’s not particularly busy on the slopes this week, she expects the numbers to increase during Christmas.
"At PCMR, this is not a particularly busy time," Fabel said. "We really don’t pick up [speed] until around Christmas. That’s when peak season really starts."
Fabel said she agrees with Foster that the reason lodging numbers are down this year could be because of the warmer season in Park City last year and the slow start of the snow this year.
"We could be affected from last year," Fabel said. "A lot of times, that is what happens when we have a year of unseasonably warmer temperatures."
However, Fabel said she is not concerned that the drop in numbers will affect business at the resort.
"It’s just the ebbs and flows of weather patterns," she said. "Sometimes, you get a consistent amount of snowfall and sometimes it comes in clumps."
Fabel said she is certain the snow will continue to fall and believes Park City will see an increase in visitors soon.
"Overall, it tends to average out by the end of the season," she said. "We expect that we’ll have had just as many guests. And, as far as snowfall, we think it will turn out to be a great year."
The Canyons resort was unavailable for comment on this story. For more information about resorts in Park City or the latest snow statistics, visit http://www.skiutah.com. For more information about the Park City Chamber/Bureau, visit http://www.parkcityinfo.com.
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