Holiday season gets under way

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— Todd Fellows from the Ski Haus compared Thanksgiving weekend to a faucet one that had been slowly dripping before, but was on full force over the holiday weekend.

He was comparing the daily ski rentals over the four-day holiday weekend, but it could be applied to what most retailers and lodgers experienced over the last four days.

Local retailers reported being busy since Friday with a mixture of locals and tourists shopping, and a handful of lodging companies had their number of pillows filled by 70 percent or more.

Most said the weekend was good and in line if not better than last year.

"We have been quite busy. I think this is a slightly stronger Thanksgiving then we have had in while," Fellows said. "That is not due to anything more than snow on the ground early, and a lot of mountain opened."

A combination of early snowfall and a later Thanksgiving helped boost lodging numbers.

Coming into the Thanksgiving holiday, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association had predicted nearly a 20 percent increase in lodging from the same weekend last year.

The chamber expected 4,559 overnight guests this weekend at area lodging properties. That meant rooms would be 30 percent filled.

Because Thanksgiving fell a week earlier last year the numbers are hard to compare, but many lodgers were pleased with what they saw.

Cho Tin Tun, front desk manager at the Days Inn, said the weekend had been good with 96 percent occupancy, which she said were mainly from reservations.

The numbers are not quite that strong for the weeks leading up to Christmas.

"The next couple of weeks are really at 10 percent. We are hoping to get a lot of walk-ins. A lot of snow would make it good," she said.

Messages were mixed on the number of walk-ins Thanksgiving produced.

Front Desk Supervisor Katie McQuillin said the Thunderhead Lodge and Condominiums, which had about a 10 percent occupancy, extended its hours to 11 p.m. because of the number of walk-ins that had been arriving.

Helen Chamness of the Rabbit Ears Motel said occupancy was at about 70 percent, but walk-ins were higher than expected.

The news was different a couple blocks down at the Harbor Hotel.

Rodger Van Popering said rooms were "filled up pretty good", but he did not get any walk-ins when he worked Friday night, which he said is when the most arrive.

"Things are going pretty well for the most part, despite the economy," Van Popering said.

While tourist numbers helped retailers, so did the locals who went shopping Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Emily Coch of F.M. Light & Sons said the store had been busy the last three days with locals doing their Christmas shopping during the day and the tourists coming in at night. "It has been pretty busy, just as busy as last year," Coch said. "Friday was packed."

Property Manager Dan Neske for Pioneer Ridge Management is optimistic for a strong Christmas season. From Dec. 22 to Jan. 4, the 150 units he manages in town have been 100 percent booked for the last month.

This weekend he said the occupancy rate was between 80 and 85 percent.

"This year definitely looks a lot better than last year," Neske said.

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