Limelight Hotel Overlook

Guests occupied 29 percent fewer hotel rooms in the Sun Valley destination last month compared to November 2019, according to data from travel organization Visit Sun Valley, while the average daily room rate those guests paid in November rose nearly 20 percent.

Seventeen percent of hotel rooms were occupied by guests in November 2020 while around 25 percent were occupied in 2019, a 29 percent year-over-year decrease, according to Visit Sun Valley. Overall, hotel room occupancy across the north-valley region fell 24 percent from June to November of this year.

The average daily room rate in November rose 19 percent, however, from $155 in 2019 to $185 in 2020. (The rate is calculated by dividing the revenue from an occupied room by the number of room-nights sold.) Overall, the average daily room rate fell about 11 percent from June to November 2020 compared to the same time last year, according to Visit Sun Valley figures.

“Rate can have implications tied to demand. The holidays will also tend to push rate up,” Visit Sun Valley Executive Director Scott Fortner wrote in an email. “These are at the individual properties’ discretion.”

Looking ahead, hotel room occupancy based on already-booked reservations are down 44 percent for December 2020 through May 2021 compared to reservations booked in that same time window last year. Room rates are forecast to increase 3 percent during that time, according to Visit Sun Valley.

Fortner noted that “current December bookings continue to build for occupancy” but could not share specific figures. Those will be available in January, he said.

The nonprofit’s Nov. 30 report was based on a sample of roughly half of the Sun Valley region’s 1,338 hotel units.

It wasn’t just Sun Valley that saw fewer room nights sold in November. Occupancy rates also fell at 18 other western U.S. ski destinations last month, according to a Dec. 16 press release from software company Inntopia. Even so, revenue was generally up compared to 2019, the company found.

“For the month of November, occupancy was down 15.2 percent in a year-over-year comparison to last November, while the [average daily rate] for the month was up a strong 23 percent,” the company stated. “Despite the decrease in occupied rooms, the strong rates enabled properties to achieve a 4.3 percent gain in revenue compared to last year.”

Increased cancellations in November and decreased room bookings could be attributed to rising COVID-19 cases and heightened precaution, according to Inntopia.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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