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SAM Magazine—Denver, Colo., Dec. 18, 2012—As of Nov. 30, advance reservations at 16 Western mountain resort destinations were down a sharp 12.3 percent for December 2012 compared to the same time last year, although the average daily rate rose 2.6 percent, according to the most recent data released by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). “December’s holiday season [is] well behind historic levels,” said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP.

MTRiP data are derived from approximately 260 property management companies in 16 mountain destination communities in Colorado, Utah, California and Oregon.

Looking across the entire 2012-13 season, advance reservations for arrivals in December through May 2013 are down 2.8 percent compared to the same time last year, when there was still an air of optimism following the strong 2010-11 season.

The reservations situation is fairly strong, all things considered. “Snowfall was below average in most locations for most of November and into early December,” said Garrison.

Despite lack of natural snowfall in the early season, November's actual occupancy among participating mountain destinations was up 7.5 percent year-over-year. The ADR also climbed for the 18th consecutive month—up 4.2 percent for November. However, MTRiP cautions that there was considerable variation among destinations in this month’s results.

Of course, the reservations picture can change in a heartbeat as the season progresses. “Since this data was collected and compiled, many mountain destinations have received much-needed snow and a commensurate bump in reservation activity. But it is likely too little, too late to help December occupancy,” said Garrison. “The mid-season strength is gratifying, but even those figures are vulnerable to early season momentum and messaging from holiday visitors.”