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Park City lodging projections point to solid holidays

A drop expected, but dramatic decline unlikely

Park City's Main Street in November 2019.
Park Record file photo

Lodging numbers in the Park City area are forecast to drop during the holiday period, but the decline is not expected to be as dramatic as had been feared amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.

At the time of the most recent projection, compiled from a sampling of properties on Nov. 30, occupancy levels were set to drop between 20% and 25% during the holiday period and in the days before the holidays from the previous year, according to the Park City Chamber/Bureau. Occupancy during the period in 2019 ranged from 30% to 93%, the Chamber/Bureau said.

Jennifer Wesselhoff, the president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, described the forecasts as encouraging.



“Our situation could be a lot worse,” she said.

The numbers cover a range of lodging options, including economy hotels, luxury hotels and short-term vacation rentals.



There is a hope at the Chamber/Bureau new bookings will continue into the days before Christmas, following a trend this year of travelers reserving lodging much closer to a check-in date. Wesselhoff said late bookings could close the gap from the previous year with the possibility of the holiday season ending off just 10% to 15% from the year before.

The Park City area, meanwhile, suffered a dry start to the ski season. The snows in recent days could lead to an additional uptick in holiday bookings.

“If we can close that gap a little bit, it’d be even better,” Wesselhoff said.

The Park City tourism industry in the summer and fall beat economic expectations as crowds arrived in larger numbers than anticipated. The earlier successes were seen as being driven by an idea that travelers preferred destinations that offered activities outside. The thinking was people saw those destinations as being less of a coronavirus risk than cities. That idea is also likely influencing the lodging projections during the holidays.

Lodging numbers are broadly important to the overall economy of Park City since visitors typically also spend money at the mountain resorts, on transportation and on food, providing a boost to those industries.

The Park City Area Lodging Association also said projections for the holiday period show a drop. The expected decrease in occupancy, though, is “not too bad,” said Danny Williams, the president of the organization. He said a decrease of between 10% and 15% from the previous holidays is projected. Rates remain strong, he said. Williams also said more bookings are expected closer to the holidays.

“I think we’re getting good pickup,” he said, describing that California residents opting for Utah amid that state’s stay-at-home orders account for some of the increase.

Midrange properties could hit 65% occupancy during the holidays while luxury ones could reach 50%, Williams predicted.

He said Park City’s recreation offerings are especially attractive with the spread of the sickness continuing.

“There’s very few leisure activities that can be done out there right now,” he said. “Skiing is one of the activities.”


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