Western ski resorts enjoyed a modest 1.3% gain in guest occupancy this season, although it came at the cost of inducing visitors with cheaper room rates, according to a report released Tuesday. With expectations of an improving national economy, it appears that ski resorts have weathered the worst of the recession.

The Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association released its report this week, finding that Colorado ski-resort hotel occupancy in the first quarter of 2010 was 63.2%, compared with 62% in the same period of 2009.
To boost occupancy, ski resorts and hotel operators discounted room rates. The average nightly rate during the November-through-March winter season dropped from $305 a year ago to $288 this year. The report is based on a survey of 260 lodging properties in 15 mountain resorts in the western U.S. The survey includes all of Colorado’s major resorts.
Hotel and condo occupancies were weak early in the ski season but showed improvement in January, February and March compared with the same months last year. Colorado Ski Country USA reported last month that skier visits through February at 22 member resorts were down 2% compared with the prior year.
Vail Resorts reported Tuesday that skier visits rose 2.3% and lift-ticket revenue was up 4.6% for the 2009-10 winter season compared with the prior year. Vail Resorts operates Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado and Heavenly at Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border. Ski-school revenue at the five resorts increased 8.3%, rental and retail sales were up 8.1 percent and dining rose 2.5%.

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