Lodging chairman says Steamboat resort will bustle into first week in April | SteamboatToday.com

Lodging chairman says Steamboat resort will bustle into first week in April

— The chairman of the Steamboat Springs Lodging Association told a gathering of business people here Tuesday that vacationing families on spring break ski trips will spill over into the first week of April this year. That should extend the meaningful part of the ski season but also perhaps leave some lodging openings in late March.

“April shows huge year-over-year gains due to school vacation schedules shifting from historical March stays,” Larry Mashaw told a group of about 30 people attending the Business Outlook Breakfast hosted by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

“Demand is softening from the East Coast, with some of those people getting a little winter weary. We aren’t getting a lot of calls for ski vacations from people in Boston right now,” he added.

Mashaw, who is also vice president of sales and marketing for the large property management company, Resort Group, said that after a robust December holiday period followed by an unusually warm, dry January, it would have been normal for people to think that tourism would have dropped off in February. In reality, he said, call volume for March began to soften up at reservation centers.

The 2014-15 ski season got off to a quick start based on Steamboat’s reputation for early snow, Mashaw said.

“We started strong on snow equity, and consumer confidence also looked good – that’s an important factor,” he said.

That “snow equity” carried over into the holidays when the first major snowfalls of the season arrived in time for the week after Christmas, and it turned into the strongest holiday season since the great recession, Mashaw said. Just about that time, the snow gods turned their backs on Steamboat.

January delivered mixed results among different property management companies and even among the various properties within his company’s portfolio. Part of the fall-off was attributable, Mashsaw said, to hesitant Front Range skiers who are very discerning about ski conditions.

The Feb. 17 edition of the Chamber’s lodging barometer, sampling actual occupancy through Valentine’s Day, showed that except for one week in mid-January, Saturday occupancy in Steamboat has tracked very closely with 2012-13 and 2013-14 ski seasons.

The Colorado-based mountain resort consulting firm DestiMetrics reported Tuesday that lodging revenues at the 19 resorts it tracks in the Western U.S. are on track to exceed those for the pre-recession 2007-08 season. If the current trend continues, lodging revenues this season will exceed the winter of 2013-14 by 10 percent.

March is still in play for Steamboat.

“For March, the story is still to be written, particularly for the hotels,” Mashaw said.

Typically, by this point of the ski season, about 95 percent of the dollar volume for the entire winter has been booked for condominiums, Mashaw said.

“In condo land, it’s pretty short stays that are filling in,” Mashaw said. “The hotels probably have a lot more booking curve to come.”

Mashaw said the board of the lodging association is focusing on acquiring more meaningful data tracking. The lodging barometer simply measures occupancy, he said, but doesn’t capture visitation attributable to timeshares and doesn’t have a way to measure the influence of property owners who rent their own vacation homes.

A more telling measurement of resort activity, he said, is revenue collected per available room, or REVPAR, as industry insiders refer to it. The challenge, he said, is getting enough companies to participate in order to generate a good sample. For the lodging companies to feel secure in sharing their REVPAR data, they will need a reputable third party whose business relies on confidentiality, Mashaw said.

“That’s a hurdle, because it costs money,” he concluded.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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