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SAM Magazine—Denver, Feb. 15, 2013—As the economy improved and snow piled up at many western resorts during January, so did occupancy, as well as reservations for the coming six months. That’s the latest news from the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP).

Data come from 260 lodging properties in sixteen destinations across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, and Oregon.

Occupancy among participating resorts was up 9.5 percent for January compared to January 2012, with the average daily rate (ADDA) rising 6.5 percent from a year ago. Even more encouraging: guests increased booking activity during January by a huge margin. Reservations taken in January for arrivals at resorts in January through June leaped 33 percent. February is currently up 14.5 percent compared to the same month last year, while the ADR ticked up 3.2 percent.

January’s bookings made up for weaker reservations activity in the fall. For the next six months, total reservations are now up 7.9 percent, with increases in February, March, May, June, and July.

“The season-to-date figures had been marginally positive going into December, but had yet to demonstrate the kind of momentum needed to deliver a good season for mountain resorts,” said Ralf Garrison, MTRiP’s director. “An improving economy and decent snow in many parts of the country combined to drive the pace of reservations taken in January to become the strongest we’ve seen in quite some time.

“We anticipate solid destination performance for the season and, very possibly, the best overall outcome since the winter of 2007-08,” Garrison added. He cautioned that weather and political stalemate on budget issues could still derail the current momentum.