Aspen/Snowmass celebrated the holidays with bountiful snowfall and strong visitor numbers. Almost six feet of snow fell from Dec. 20 through Jan. 4, and the resort recorded its busiest day in the last seven years on New Year’s Eve. Skier day numbers for the holiday period were up two percent over 2002/03 and 12 percent above the three-year average.

“This is the best holiday season we have seen in years,” said David Perry, senior vice president, Aspen Skiing Company. “This creates tremendous momentum for the rest of the season. We now have thousands of guests going home and spreading the word about the great snow and their experience at Aspen/Snowmass.”

Snow began falling at the beginning of November and it hasn’t let up since. Aspen/Snowmass received almost double its monthly average snowfall in November, more than 150 percent of its December average, and has already received more than 70 percent of the average January snowfall. The current base depth at the top of Aspen Highlands is 68 inches.

“We have been sitting in the bullseye for every storm that rolls through the state,” said Mike Kaplan, senior vice president of mountain operations, Aspen Skiing Company. “You can feel the excitement on the mountain and in town. The whole valley looks like one big winter wonderland.”

Visitors showed up en masse for the holidays and occupancy figures topped out at 92 percent for the week of Dec. 28 through Jan. 3, the highest winter occupancy rate since the record ‘97-‘98 season*. On Dec. 31, more than 20,000 skiers/riders hit the slopes, the busiest single day since ’97-‘98.

“It sounds like some visitors were staying in town shopping and dining when the weather was cold early in the holidays,” Kaplan continued, “but they came out in droves when things warmed up. The best thing is, once people got up on the hill, they still found plenty of room make some turns. Having four mountains allowed all our guests to get fresh tracks.”

Retail business in Aspen and Snowmass was also up according to resort officials.

“Everything I’ve heard from our members has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Hana Pevny, president, Aspen Chamber Resort Association. “Several restaurant and shop owners I’ve run in to have told me that this is the best holiday season they have ever had.”

The resort continues to be busy with the ESPN Winter X Games VIII (Jan. 24 – Jan.27) less than three weeks away and nearly 1,500 college students are in town now for the Lifestylez ski week (Jan. 4-10).