By David Schissler
(November 2014) It would appear a record-breaking summer for western mountain resorts is already having a positive effect on winter reservations. Early openings of several resorts on the divide in central Colorado have also helped jump-start bookings. DestiMetrics is a Denver based firm that tracks lodging reservations at 19 western resorts. They say that as of Sept. 30, winter bookings (November through March) are already up 7.4% in occupancy and 15.5% in revenue (it appears you are paying more for that bed!) over this time last year. DestiMetrics director Ralf Garrison says Rocky Mountain resorts, which had ample snow last season, are tracking 8.9% higher in occupancy and 16.4% higher in revenues.
Having lived in Evergreen, CO through the ‘90s I can tell you opening day anywhere there is huge, but being the first in the nation is a bragging right like no other (read great marketing). Each October, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, and Keystone, all within a few miles of each other along Loveland Pass, vie for the first to open crown. The competitive spirit displayed by the three resorts is reflected in the riders, too. I’ve made opening day at each of these places and can tell you first hand, cars begin showing up in the parking lot hours before the lifts start. Like iPhone junkies waiting in line overnight for the latest release, some choose to camp out the night before to ensure they’re at the front of the line. By one’s and two’s an hour or so before the lift cranks, skiers and boarders line up in front of the closed lift maze. You see, if the resort is the first to open, then you have to be on “first chair” to get “first tracks” to become the “first skier” in the country! It may sound a little nuts, but if you’re lucky enough to be there it’s so exciting it makes perfect sense.
If you’ve never experienced and opening day at one of your “happy places” put it on your bucket list. You’ll feel the energy emanating from everyone and everything around you. Quite a few opening day and snowmaking announcements are coming in from all over the country!