Mammoth on the rebound


Projections indicate recovery in full swing

Practically everyone in Mammoth has sensed that the town is on the way back from a disastrous ski season last year, but now the actual numbers are starting to show it.

For example, the projected visitor occupancy for the upcoming King Holiday weekend (Jan. 18-20) was 77 percent of capacity as of Thursday, Jan. 17.

On the same weekend last year, occupancy was a dreary 30 percent, the result of a snow season that hardly existed at all until late in the spring season.

For the upcoming mid-week, the Mammoth Visitors Bureau projected a 32 percent occupancy rate, up from 19 percent a year ago.

But where the numbers showed the most dramatic example of a rally were in newly released data from the Mammoth Lakes Tourism.

“As we all know, the holidays hit it out of the park,” said John Urdi, MLT’s director. “The December snows and business have also set us up well for the rest of the season.”

According to reservations activity as measured by the outside consulting firm MTRiP, the average occupancy in Mammoth lodging outlets was 41.3 percent—up 32.2 percent from the 31 percent average in December 2011. The revenue per available room was $149—up 10.4 percent from last season.

In the air, improvements year-over-year were less dramatic, with flights from San Diego and Orange County actually behind last year.

Airport manager Brian Picken, speaking to the town’s mobility commission, said he was disappointed in the air numbers from both those airports, but Urdi, in a separate interview, said they made sense.

Urdi said last year plenty of advance reservations were made (1,172), but when people arrived in Mammoth, there was little snow.

Having been burned, air visitors this time took a “wait-and-see” attitude, which Urdi characterized as a “hangover” effect.

However, advance bookings for the next six months show a healthy increase across the board, he said.

LAX is showing an 8.3 percent jump for January; San Francisco is showing a 15.2 percent jump; San Diego is showing an increase of 23.6 percent for the month; while Orange County is up 12.6 percent.

The airline numbers are not guesses. They show actual bookings. If the numbers hold, it means 10,454 people will arrive in Mammoth by air in January alone.

The air traffic numbers are important—and altogether interesting—but it is the occupancy rates that carry the most weight, since it figures in all travelers, whether they arrive by air or by car.

With the ski season having just begun, the next six-month “pacing period” shows occupancy up by 10.5 percent and revenue per available room up by 16.3 percent.