Some in the lodging industry find it hard to fill openings during the holidays this year. With less than three weeks before Christmas, it’s becoming clear just how tough the holiday season could be for Aspen’s tourism industry.A sample survey of lodging properties showed some won’t fill for the holidays for the first time in years. Others will fill, but it was a tougher sell and they won’t have waiting lists like years past.
By Scott Condon, Dec 8, 2008The Aspen Times, Aspen CO, Colorado

Chuck Frias has managed tourist accommodations in Aspen for more than 30 years and his company now handles hundreds of condominiums and single-family homes. He said this holiday season will be the worst he has witnessed since 1976, the drought year.

“This year we’ve got dozens and dozens of properties sitting empty,” Frias said. “If we ended up at 20 percent off, I’d be quite happy.”

That is a common finding at lodges, hotels and condo projects around town. The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically swamped. This year, late arriving travelers gambling on finding discounted rooms could easily score them.

The next occupancy report for lodges in Aspen and Snowmass Village is expected to be released Monday. The last report, issued Nov. 15, showed this season’s advance bookings lagging significantly behind last season through Jan. 10.

Travelers aren’t canceling holiday reservations, but the phones simply haven’t rang as often.

“We haven’t had any large cancellations for December,” said Mark Hoffman, controller for the 53-room Molly Gibson and 45-room Hotel Aspen. “We’re still light for December. Ballparking it — we’re off 20 percent from last year.”

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