Steamboat Springs A Steamboat Ski Area executive said Tuesday his resort doesn't fit the trend of declining skier days in Colorado this winter.
"While we can't report any specific numbers, Steamboat is significantly outperforming our competition," Andy Wirth said. "Our business volumes are quite favorable against prior year numbers."
Wirth is vice president of marketing for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. The close of the expected sale of the ski area by American Skiing Co. to an investor group led by Tim and Diane Mueller of Vermont for $91.4 million is pending.
Colorado ski areas have logged 7,187,534 ski and snowboard visits year-to-date, a 5-percent decrease in skier visits compared to the 7,572,851 visits through the end of February a year ago.
The current numbers reflect a rebound since the first of the year, said David Perry, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA.
The ski industry in Colorado faced many obstacles heading into the season last November in light of Sept. 11 and experienced a 14-percent decrease in the first period (through Dec. 31, 2001), Perry said.
Pure destination ski areas like Steamboat didn't fare as well as a group when compared to all of the state's ski areas, according to Colorado Ski Country USA. They were down 7 percent from a year ago.
However, Wirth said skier visits at Steamboat this winter are strong even when compared to budgets that were prepared well in advance of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He attributed part of that success to the fact that the resort community locked in contracts with major airlines prior to the attacks.
In addition to Steamboat, pure destination resorts include Aspen and Telluride among others.
Front Range destination resorts such as Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone, are down 4 percent as a group.
Wirth said Steamboat is outperforming several Front Range destination resorts as well as other destination resorts but wouldn't give specific numbers.
"We're doing very well," Wirth said. "We're very pleased with our skier visits to date. We are notably outperforming other resorts in the region."
Despite the faltering economy, Wirth said Steamboat saw a rebound in Front Range skier visits during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January as well as in the latter half of February. Out of state visitation is also "really solid," Wirth said. And finding inbound airline seats into Steamboat will be a challenge for vacationing skiers through April 3, even at midweek, he added.
The only market segment in which Steamboat is noticeably suffering is in international tourism, Wirth said. International skiers and riders typically account for less than 7 percent of Steamboat's total skier days.
Perry said the Colorado resort industry has recovered millions of lost skier visits after the first of the year.
For the second of three measurement periods, January and February 2002, Colorado saw 4,724,708 visits, equal to the same period last year and a 5-percent increase over two years ago. Colorado also showed good skier visit levels during the Olympic period.
"These encouraging numbers show that our business in Colorado has returned to near-normal levels post-Sept. 11," Perry said. "Looking forward, March is traditionally our busiest month and sees the best snowfall of the year. The balance of the season is ahead of us with a solid six weeks of high season remaining to bring year-end totals as close as possible to last year's numbers."
Compared to this time last season, year-to-date figures show destination resorts hosted 2,338,729 skier visits (7-percent decrease), Front Range destination resorts hosted 4,503,736 skier visits (4-percent decrease) and Front Range resorts hosted 345,069 skier visits (4-percent decrease).