The economy may be taking a pleasant turn for western ski areas. New data from Mountain Travel Research Program in Denver (MTRiP) suggests reservations made lately for fall through January are up 2.1 percent from the same time last year. The timing couldn't be better as reports show that mountain travel suffered big this past summer.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, August's occupancy rates took a 21 percent dive from August 2008 bookings despite increased package deals and cheaper room rates this year. Leisure travel and shopping felt the tight belt most.

Even better news is that bookings jumped 28 percent for this November over last. December reservations are up as well (six percent), but we probably won't see significant numbers until the resorts open and snow reports flourish.

Ski Utah has revamped its Web site in the wake of this news to point the cursor toward Utah. The "collective" marketing arm for Utah's ski industry has redesigned SkiUtah.com. The site now features a number of improvements like an upgraded Hot Deals section, "Book Now," and video buttons, a new featured listing section, improved snow reporting, and social networking pages.

You'll be able to create a ski experience tailored specifically to your interests and budget. The new "My Vacation" function acts like an online shopping cart. Store Hot Deals, lodging, resort information and other items of interest then jump back to them later as you plan your vacation.

Ski Utah has also designed a site optimized for mobile Web browsers, making it much easier to see how much snow fell where. Hopefully, they'll include locals' tips like the $8 all-you-can-eat steamed Maine clams every Sunday at Snowbird's Lodge Bistro, 4 p.m.- 6 p.m..

More information.