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SAM Magazine—Winter Park, Colo., June 24, 2021—A robust rebound is underway in summer visitation at Western mountain destinations, according to the latest information in the monthly Market Briefing from DestiMetrics, the business intelligence division of Inntopia. Compared to a year ago, lodging occupancy during May was up more than five-fold, and trailed the pre-pandemic May 2019 by just 8.2 percent. The average daily rate (ADR) rose 21.6 percent compared to two years ago, and that led to a revenue increase of 13.4 percent. DestimetricMammothLodging at Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Further, the six-month summer season that extends from May through October is building in strength. As of May 31, reservations for the period were up 1.6 percent compared to two years ago. ADR is up a substantial 30.7 percent compared to two summers ago and projects to a revenue gain of 33.1 percent compared to summer 2019.

"Mountain visitors are exhibiting their commitment and loyalty to these destinations as they are returning at ever-growing pre-pandemic numbers and showing little reluctance or resistance about significantly higher rates,” said Tom Foley, senior vice president for business operations and analytics for Inntopia.

Pent-up demand for recreational travel to the mountains remains very high, as on-the-books occupancy for the months of July, August, and September continues to pace well ahead of two years ago at this time. The lead time for bookings is growing, and is longer than it was prior to the onset of the pandemic. As Covid-19 cases have declined dramatically and vaccinations have increased, consumers have more confidence in booking. Increased competition has also spurred earlier bookings.

One note of caution: Cancellations remain higher than normal. More flexible cancellation policies introduced in the past year to help reassure cautious consumers may be part of the reason.

“Higher daily rates represent an opportunity for properties to regain lost revenue from the last year, although as the recovery continues, staffing issues are creating challenges for some providers to meet the expectations of their guests—this is true for most travel-related destination services,” commented Foley. “And while room rates are definitely pushing toward a new summer record, sustaining them in the long run is less certain. As pent-up demand is satisfied, it is possible that the high rates this year will be the anomaly of 2021, much the way lower rates were an anomaly last summer in the midst of the pandemic restrictions.” 

DestiMetrics data are derived from 290 property management companies in 18 mountain destinations across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.