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Report details concerning struggles of region's luxury hotels this winter: 'A lot can change'

"There's still nothing like snow to offset — or complement — those conditions."

"There’s still nothing like snow to offset — or complement — those conditions."

Photo Credit: iStock

Mountain resort towns in the western U.S. have been feeling the pinch, and limited snowfall is a critical factor. 

In mid-December, the Idaho Mountain Express reported that 17 resorts situated in the Rocky Mountains had much lower occupancy rates than normal, according to data from DestiMetrics.

While higher room rates due to inflation and school break schedules contributed to the issue, DestiMetrics noted that people are more willing to spend cash when snow is expected to be present. In Blaine County, Idaho — a popular winter sports destination — snowpack was at about 67% of its normal volume.

"While economic pressure and other social conditions play a big role in how a season plays out, there's still nothing like snow to offset — or complement — those conditions. When we've got it, we can print money and tone down messaging, and when we don't, it's like pushing strings to get folks to come," read the report quoted by the Express. 

At the time of the report, bookings were below normal in consecutive months, down 7% in January, 18% in February, 1% in March, and 19% in April. Things appeared to be similarly dismal while looking ahead to late spring. 

"May is showing a sharp decline at -60%. It's quite early though, a lot can change by then," DestiMetrics said. An update for that month's numbers is unavailable at the time of writing. 

The resorts studied by DestiMetrics aren't the only ones that have grappled with the depressive effect reduced snowfall can have on local economies and recreation. 

This winter, Italian ski resort Mount Terminillo didn't get any snow, and businesses in the area were unable to bring in the usual income from tourists. Some ski resorts have even needed to rebrand amid changing conditions, with the overheating of our planet leading not only to less snowfall but also more dangerous extremes on the slopes.  

"While we're used to the inherent uncertainty of our business, climate change exacerbates this challenge in different ways across the 37 states and six regions in which ski areas operate," Ski Areas Association spokesperson Adrienne Saia Isaac told USA Today in January. 

"If we continue on the higher-emission path we're on, the U.S. ski industry will be unrecognizable," added University of Waterloo geography professor Daniel Scott. 

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