Park City sees an increase in visitors
It looks like lodging in Park City is taking a turn for the better, thanks in part to the new snow, and also because of New Year’s, the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, President’s Day week and an early Easter this year.
Park City Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone said the last days in December were the busiest days so far this year.
"Today, tomorrow and Sunday are three biggest days of the holiday season," Malone said on Friday afternoon.
Malone said the weeks prior to and following Christmas day are usually the busiest of the season, but said because Christmas and New Year’s fell on Tuesdays this year, visitors booked mostly for the second week of Christmas instead of the first. He said the snowstorms later in the month also brought an increase in visitors.
"Sometimes it’s stronger in the first week or second but there’s usually two really strong weeks," Malone said. "The second week [of Christmas break] was a little bit stronger than the first week this year."
Malone said school vacations affect when people book vacations in Park City, as well as which holidays schools recognize.
"A lot of it has to do with which days of the week the holidays fall on and school patterns," Malone said.
Krista Parry, communications director for Park City Mountain Resort, said Mountain Reservations has seen an increase in reservations since the snow started falling.
"We got big snowstorms and we always see a large increase in phone calls and reservations for later in the year when the snow falls," Parry said.
Robert Foster of Deer Valley Lodging said Deer Valley also saw an increase in visitors after the snow came.
"We’re starting the new year off very nicely," Foster said. "We’re in the snow business Our numbers have been strong during this holiday period."
Foster attributes the low lodging numbers at the beginning of December to the lack of snow at the beginning of the season and because Christmas and New Year’s both fell on Tuesdays.
"Where we were short was in early December before Christmas because of the [lack] of the snow When the snow came, business picked up," Foster said. "It shifted a little bit with the change in days. We’ve shifted to [Jan. 4 and 5] where you would usually have a larger checkout."
Overall, Foster said, the shift in busy lodging days at Deer Valley in January has not negatively impacted business Deer Valley, it has only increased business during the month of January.
"I think it’s bigger than ever [this year]," Foster said. "Our January numbers are definitely up."
Malone reports that lodging, of course, will increase when the 2008 Sundance Film Festival comes to town Jan. 17 – Jan. 27.
"I hear phone volumes are strong and this snow has definitely helped us a lot, but we’ll be strong here in town until the fifth of January and until Sundance comes on Jan. 17," Malone said.
Malone said most accommodations in town will be completely booked during the two weeks of the film festival, but said lodging will still be available for those needing late accommodations.
"There’s always availability during Sundance," Malone said, "it just might not be where you’re looking for."
He said the first week of the Sundance Film Festival is typically busier than the second.
"The patterns in the last few years have shown that the beginning part of the festival is stronger than the last week of the festival," Malone said. "It’s a pattern in terms of whether the festival is really a buyers’ festival and if people are there to see the films first."
Parry said PCMR does not necessarily see more visitors during Sundance because not all film festival goers come to Park City to ski. She said skiers typically book lodging at the resort during the holidays, which include President’s Day week and an early Easter in March.
"A lot of people who come in for Sundance are not necessarily skiers," Parry said. "President’s Day is always a big week for us and we hope to [see the same numbers] as we did last year."
Parry said many families vacation in Park City during President’s Day week in February and said the resort sees an increase of participation in its ski programs at that time.
"President’s Day week, we see a longer stay time," Parry said. "[People] tend to stay five nights. We do see a lot of families visiting at that time and we see a lot of people visiting the snowboard and terrain parks. Our Kids Signature Five programs are always at capacity during that week, and ski school always [sees] a big week."
Malone reports that Park City historically sees more visitors during the month of February and said many lodging facilities sell out during President’s Day this year.
"[February] appears to be a very strong month for us at this point in time, in terms of bookings last year," Malone said.
Malone said the snapshot for February was taken on Nov. 30 and said the reason numbers are already so high during that time is because people typically book vacations for spring at the beginning of the season.
"They book ahead of time for the holiday weeks," Malone said.
Easter is on March 23 this year. Malone said this early Easter will affect lodging in April, which is usually a busy time of year at the resorts.
"March looks strong as well, but we have to keep in mind that we have a very early Easter this year on March 23, which will have a very positive impact on March," Malone said. "But that means April will struggle."
Parry said PCMR expects to see a lot of visitors in March.
"We believe March is going to be very strong," she said.
Foster said, while Deer Valley receives an increase in visitors during Sundance, it is not necessarily a popular spot for festival goers to book since most festival activities take place in town.
"What happens with Sundance is the lower part of Deer Valley is typically the place that sells out and then you have a little bit left up top by Silver Lake," Foster said. "We’re secondary to Sundance people because [Deer Valley is] farther away from the activity."
For now, Malone said lodging is looking a lot brighter compared to the beginning of the season and expects it to remain fairly constant until the resorts close.
"It’s pretty consistent," he said. "We’re off to a good start."
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