Lodging report shows visitor nights ahead of last year | ParkRecord.com
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Lodging report shows visitor nights ahead of last year

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Some advice? Hold to your parking space until next weekend.

According to resort and lodging statistics, this year, Park City is poised for one of the busiest Presidents’ Day vacation weeks to date.

Park City Mountain Resort spokeswoman Krista Parry says the resort’s reservations department bookings are eight percent ahead of last year.

"It’s just amazing last year was our biggest Presidents’ Day Weekend ever," she says. "This year, it’s huge. And now we’re getting calls with people looking to book this March."

Parry said the resort reservation desk has booked more vacations than they did over the week of Christmas.

"I think most people don’t have much time, so time is very important to them and for them to be able to fly in and be able to ski that same day and to truly have a four-day weekend is huge and I think people are finally realizing that," she explained.

The coverage of the Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, has also helped, according to Parry.

She counted the times that "Salt Lake" was mentioned in one 15-minute segment: 20.

"The broadcast is just branding our state not just for Salt Lake, but for Park City," she says.

Deer Valley Resort spokeswoman Erin Grady said that though Deer Valley doesn’t report specific numbers, resort reservations are expecting strong numbers going into this weekend.

"It’s probably going to be one of our best weekends," she said, adding reservations for the rest of February and March were also strong.

Park City Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone says every resort in the country will attract travelers Presidents’ Day Weekend, but notes that Park City’s bookings continue past the weekend and into the following week.

In a week-to-week comparison, visitor nights at hotels, lodges and rentals are 4.9 percent ahead of last year, he says, and the increase has more to do with the days following Presidents’ Day.

"The growth seems to be towards the end of the week, going into the next weekend," he observed. "So business is strong from this weekend, through next weekend, with growth happening on the later end of it — next Thursday, Friday, Saturday."

International travel especially appears to be ahead of past years, according to Malone, and that’s a market the Chamber/Bureau has specifically targeted over the years, he says, since travelers from other countries tend to stay longer, travel in larger groups of and spend money more freely.

The appeal to international visitors to travel to Utah is in part because of the recent low exchange rates. The Chamber/Bureau, however, has also been successful in its efforts to reach out to media outlets in foreign countries, which Malone says has significantly contributed to getting the Park City name out.

Just last week, in fact, the Chamber/Bureau hosted the editor of Brazil’s equivalent of People Magazine.

The result of the Chamber/Bureau’s efforts is that international travelers are choosing Utah over Colorado, particularly in the United Kingdom and Germany, but also when it comes to Mexico and countries in South America.

"Mexico and Brazil are two countries that have been on the increase for us for quite some time now, and I think if you look at probably the last 10 to 15 years, Mexico has been a fair amount of international business for the Colorado ski resorts," Malone explained. "In the past few years have we started to see a little more comfort and familiarization with some of those customers from Mexico who are now flying into Salt Lake and skiing up here."

International visitors make up the bulk of the end-of-ski-season travel, he said, since other countries may have extended breaks from work and school during the holidays.

Park City still cashes in on the Olympics, says Malone, especially since it appears as if Utah has a few more inches of snow on the ground than Turin.

"We’ve had a lot of good snow here, and as you can see in other parts of Europe, by watching the Olympics on T.V. it’s not that great in terms of snow," he notes. "I think the Olympics have been a big factor, in terms of creating interest and a feeling of credibility as it relates to the Park City product."

Compared to last year at this time, Park City lodges and hotels have logged in six percent more visitor nights in 2006, according to Malone.

Grady advised skiers to be aware, especially during the busy holidays, that Deer Valley limits ticket sales to 6,500 skiers daily. Tickets can be purchased the day before beginning at 3 p.m. at the resort, or purchased by calling the resort at 649-1000.

Parry said PCMR is always prepared for crowds it will be business as usual. She adds, however, that skiers and snowboarders would be wise to avoid the main lifts like Pay Day, and instead choose alternate routes like the Eagle chair or Ski Team to get to the top of the mountain.

"We have so many six-passenger chairlifts and they are so fast, there’s hardly a wait, but to use those different options would be a way to cut down on lines," she said. As for parking at PCMR, Parry recommends late risers take the free city shuttle as much as possible.


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