KEYSTONE, Colo. — Panelists at the Mountain
Travel Symposium (MTS) stressed the need to diversify services and attractions
as the number of people who visit mountain resorts strictly to ski and
Mountain resorts are using family-friendly activities,
higher-quality food and beverage outlets, and summer attractions to boost annual visitor numbers.
Panelist Steve Wright, chief
marketing officer of Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort, said the additions of a hockey
rink and water park have drawn more visitors that would’ve otherwise been
dissuaded by challenging weather conditions. He noted that Jay Peak hosts 45
weekend hockey tournaments per year.
“Each weekend, there are 300 rooms
[reserved] that are untethered to the weather,” Wright said.
Panelist Rob Perlman, president of
Colorado’s Steamboat Ski & Resort Co., spoke of expanding the town’s
reputation as a biking “mecca” as a way to draw people beyond the hardcore
skiers and snowboarders.
“We’re very focused on growing our
summer business,” said Perlman, adding that Steamboat added a bike park three
Mountain resort operators have
been spurred to broaden their offerings as winter-sports visitor numbers have fluctuated in recent years. Last season, the number of skiers visiting U.S.
resorts fell for the first time in three years, declining 5.1%, to 53.6 million
visits. That was the second-lowest figure in 15 years and an 11% drop
from the record 60.5 million visits in 2010-11, according to the National Ski
Areas Association trade group.
For this season, lodging occupancy
in Western U.S. and Rocky Mountain resort towns through the end of February
was up 3.6% from a year earlier, according to DestiMetrics, which tracks the
lodging demand at 19 mountain resort towns across California, Colorado, Nevada,
Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
With that in mind, the MTS
panelists said resorts could still do a better job drawing younger skiers and
families by making the process of getting skiers and their gear to the mountain
“How can we continue to adapt and
innovate to make our industry more healthy and vibrant?” asked Perlman on the
panel. “We’re not performing heart surgery here.”
The 41st Mountain Travel
Symposium, which attracted about 1,200 attendees, opened on April 3 and runs
through April 9.