Ski Resort Business Rebounds

By ROBERT WELLER.c The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) – Reservations at the nation’s premiere ski resorts are rebounding after dropping as much as 50 percent immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The attacks, balmy weather and the deepening economic decline had left many resorts – and the towns that depend on them – wondering if the season could be salvaged. Some communities cut their budgets and some resort said they would be more conservative about hiring people and opening trails.

But this week, resorts started to get colder, wetter weather. And skiers are taking advantage of deep discounts for lift tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars that resorts have been offering in hopes of bringing back business.

“Half our mountain is covered with snow now, and people can see it on our mountain cam,” said Anna Olson of Jackson Hole, Wyo. “Our lodging division did more bookings Tuesday than they did in the entire month of September.”

Killington, Vt., opened the New England season on Tuesday, and Mammoth Mountain on Thursday became the first California resort to open.

Aspen’s Central Reservations had its best day in two years this week, said Bill Tomich, president of the booking agency. United Airlines announced this week it was restoring some Aspen flights it had canceled – “a huge lucky break for us,” Tomich said.

“People who ski or snowboard are more willing to live with some risk in their lives than other sectors of the population,” said David Perry, president of Colorado Ski Country U.S.A. “I truly believe in the power of distraction, and a big snowfall will be a powerful incentive for skiers to get back to their normal lives.”

American resorts are also hoping skiers who had considered traveling to Europe or Canada will stay closer to home.

As an incentive, Big Sky in Montana is offering a deal that includes free lift tickets, breakfast and a one-day car rental with a five-day booking at any of the resort’s lodgings. Vail is offering a buy-one, get-one-free deal including lodging and lift tickets.