Tourist numbers remain strong

Local hotels hope for continued Front Range business

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— Lodging officials are hopeful the momentum gained from a strong holiday weekend will continue this weekend.

For the Presidents' Day holiday, an estimated 13,000 tourists were in town staying at local lodging establishments.

The weekly lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association forecasts that 12,907 visitors will check into local lodging properties by tonight.

Hotels near the Steamboat Ski Area are projected to be near capacity. Reservations for condominiums near the resort are projected to be strong, while downtown lodging lags behind.

The number of projected pillows is higher than the 11,276 visitors the barometer forecast for the corresponding Saturday in 2001.

The chamber's lodging barometer is not a complete survey. It is a sample survey taken of various resorts and hotels near the ski area and in downtown.

The barometer is used as a guideline by retail businesses in Steamboat Springs. The gauge gives retailers an idea of how much staffing they need or how much food they might want to have on hand.

The barometer projects mountain hotels to be 96 percent full, which is higher than the 87 percent projection for a year ago.

Condominiums near the resort are expected to be 80 percent occupied, which is similar to the 79 percent forecast from a year ago.

Downtown lodging is projected to be at 67 percent full, which is higher than the 64 percent forecast last year.

The Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center, which is near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, had a strong holiday weekend and is expecting it to continue this weekend, said Terry Murphy, general manager.

"We had a great Presidents' Day weekend," Murphy said. "We were basically sold out last Friday and Saturday and Sunday was strong."

This weekend Murphy is expecting the same.

"This weekend, we are pretty much sold out," he said. "Next weekend is down a little bit. We are probably in the 80 percent range. We are hoping that will pick up."

Murphy said customers from the Front Range are keeping the hotel booked.

He attributes these reservations to the recent snowfall that Steamboat has received.

"Obviously, the Front Range message has gotten out about the snow," he said. "We are real excited about that. We are seeing more traffic from the Denver area than we certainly saw last year."

Murphy said the hotel's reservations are projected to continue to be strong into March.

"The first couple weekends in March, we are sold out," he said. "There are some good weekends coming up."

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