Skiers hit the slopes Tuesday afternoon at Steamboat Ski Area.

Photo by John F. Russell

Skiers hit the slopes Tuesday afternoon at Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat snow message stands out among Colorado ski resorts

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— Steamboat Springs likely fared better than other Colorado ski resorts during the first part of the season, according to local lodging executives.

Colorado Ski Country USA recently reported skier visits at its 21 member resorts, including Steamboat, were down 11.5 percent from opening day through Dec. 31 compared with the same period in 2011. The group attributed the decrease to a lack of early-season snow and delayed openings at a few ski areas.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days,” Colorado Ski Country President Melanie Mills said in a news release.

The snow eventually came, especially in Northwest Colorado, and Steamboat has been able to boast one of the deepest midmountain bases in the state. After the disappointing snowfall last season, there was a lot of pent-up demand, and people were waiting for the big snows to come, said Larry Mashaw, vice president of sales and marketing for Resort Group.

“Once we finally got it, the floodgates opened,” Mashaw said.

Resort Group President Mark Walker said bookings are up compared with last year, which he credited largely to Mother Nature and the snow message in December.

“We have some of the best snow anywhere,” Walker said.

Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs owner Scott Marr also reported his bookings are up since the December snow, and he is optimistic with how February is looking.

According to Steamboat Ski Area, snowfall in December that surpassed 100 inches generated good momentum and is driving demand for the remainder of the season.

“Great guest service, the anniversary celebration and current airfare specials during January are also having a positive impact,” Steamboat’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Perlman wrote in an email Tuesday.

Perlman said that holiday travel primarily was condensed to one week this year, and guest surveys resulted in record high marks for the ski area.

Perlman did not specify how the ski area did compared to the 11.5 percent average decrease seen by Colorado Ski Country member resorts.

One of the Colorado resorts that had a late opening this year was Aspen Highlands. According to the Aspen Daily News, skier visits at Aspen Skiing Co.’s four mountains were off about 8 percent through Dec. 31 compared with the previous ski season.

Skier visits from the four Colorado ski areas owned by Vail Resorts were not figured into the statewide average because Vail Resorts no longer is a member of Colorado Ski Country. Through Jan. 13, Vail Resorts was reporting skier visits were up 2 percent combined at its four Colorado resorts and three California resorts. The company did not specify skier visits for its Colorado resorts.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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