Late snow helps bookings climb in Tahoe area in March | SierraSun.com

Late snow helps bookings climb in Tahoe area in March

A surge in snowfall at the end of February gave many western ski resorts a boost in bookings, but it probably won't be enough to recover from a slow start to the winter season for some lodging establishments.

Bookings made in February for arrivals in the same month climbed 15.6 percent when compared with the same period last year.

At the same time, aggregated occupancy among participating destinations was down 2.9 percent. That marked an improvement from the start of the month when occupancy was off 4.4 percent.

Also, total revenue increased 2.1 percent in February, largely because average daily rates jumped more than 5 percent in the same period.

The data reflects occupancy and revenue among 20 participating destination communities in eight western states, which consist of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

Innotopia, a Vermont-based business intelligence company, which acquired DestiMetrics last year, released the results in its monthly market briefing.

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"The booking pace during February was a complete 180-degree turnaround from the beginning of the month," said Tom Foley, vice president of business intelligence for Innotopia.

"Although the significant snowfall clearly drove considerably more bookings and occupancy during the month, a few weeks of strong snowfall does not make a season. And, while the fresh snow was great for February, it isn't having much impact on the remainder of the season."

The scenario seems to be different in the Truckee area, where lodging establishments and ski resorts benefitted mightily from the late February snowfall.

"While we were mostly booked up on weekends to begin with, the heavy snowfall definitely put lodging over the top and drove a lot of additional midweek bookings as well," said Liesl Hepburn, public relations director for Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

Looking ahead, bookings made in February for arrivals through July were up 6 percent. Bookings for May were up 8.5 percent, while July was up 8.7 percent as of Feb. 28.

"Different segments of the mountain destination market will have varying degrees of success in these conditions and although low snowfall is hardest on slope operations, such as lift tickets, rentals, and lessons, other businesses may be less negatively impacted from the low snow," Foley said.

"Retailers, bars, restaurants, and non-ski activities may remain flat or in some case, post some gains."

Staff writer Wyatt Haupt Jr. can be reached at 530-550-2652 or via email at whaupt@truckeesun.com.