DENVER (KDVR) — Many of Colorado’s ski resort towns ended the winter season a bit better than expected. Now, anticipation is building for what could be the busiest summer season in years.
According to DestiMetrics, which sifts through lodging performance data in resort destinations, the summer outlook is looking promising for western mountain resorts.
DestiMetrics research goes on to show occupancy at western mountain resorts (collectively) for this summer is up 90.4% compared to this same time last year.
“Maybe a more objective comparison would be to look back at the last time we had a normal summer and we’re seeing the book pace is even ahead of that. That’s the early indicator – that more people are coming to the mountains than ever before. And certainly there’s a feeling up here that this could be one of the biggest summers the mountains have ever seen,” said Robin Craigen, chairperson of the Steamboat Springs Lodging Association.
Overall, the data from DestiMetrics shows July could be the busiest and hottest month for Colorado’s lodging industry. Occupancy rates for that month are already at 52.2%.
According to Craigen, lodging prices could go up by 10% to 20% this summer, depending on demand.
While it’s good news for the lodging industry, it’s actually more like a double-edged sword.
While the demand will be there, the help certainly is not.
Right now, mountain resort communities are lacking seasonal employees. Many fled the high country during the pandemic and moved to the Front Range for work.
To lure workers back, many of Colorado’s mountain communities are offering interesting incentives.
According to Craigen, in Steamboat Springs, many construction companies are renting homes and offering accommodations to prospective employees to lure them in.
“Many restaurants are trying to make up grounds that they lost last year. You see ads throughout the newspaper, online, just about everywhere. If you wanted a job up here you can have your pick of ‘where do I want to work?’ and ‘how much would I like to be paid’?” Craigen said.
According to the Steamboat Lodging Association, prior to the pandemic, an average seasonal employee working for a hotel or resort would make about $15 an hour. Now they’re being offered about $20 to $25 an hour.