Record Snow Boosts Ski Resorts' Holiday Season


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Snow is piling up in record amounts in the western part of the U.S. That's good news for the snow-dependent ski industry, which like most travel and tourism industries, has limped its way through the economic downturn. The Christmas-New Year's holiday is the make or break time for most ski resorts and hotels.


And some good news for Colorados ski resorts, snow keeps piling up and the week between Christmas and New Years Day is typically the make or break time for resorts.

As Kirk Siegler of member station KUNC reports, bookings are up over last year.

KIRK SIEGLER: At the Winter Park resort in the Colorado Rockies, Dave Sears takes a breather after skiing down the Parkway Run.

Mr. DAVE SEARS: We prepared pretty well, trying to keep hydrated and everything and exercise a lot, so its been good.

SIEGLER: Colorado is a lot higher and colder than Sears hometown of Destin, Florida. But hes not complaining. Ski resorts arent complaining either now that business is picking back up.

Mr. RALF GARRISON (Economist, Mountain Travel Research Program): Its like frugality fatigue, and after being a good boy and saving my money for six months or a year I get itchy, and its time to get back on the mountain.

SIEGLER: Economist Ralf Garrison tracks hotel bookings at western ski resorts for the Denver-based Mountain Travel Research Program. He says resorts have adapted to tough times by offering a cocktail of deals to lure destination visitors. Theyre also using social media to tout the bountiful early season snowfall.

Mr. GARRISON: So after a divot, a significant divot two years ago, there has been the beginnings of a return to normalcy.

SIEGLER: So many resorts around the West should be breaking open the champagne and pouring the eggnog in light of where they have been in the last couple of years?

Mr. GARRISON: They should be thinking about buying the champagne in a few months.

(Soundbite of cross-talk)

SIEGLER: And resorts are encouraged to hear more people like Ron Rogers say the still struggling economy didnt factor into his decision to book a ski holiday in Winter Park.

Mr. RON ROGERS: Were all gainfully employed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROGERS: So the recession really hasnt affected us.

SIEGLER: Snowfall amounts that are being described as epic probably arent hurting either.

For NPR News, Im Kirk Siegler.

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