Steamboat Springs When Mike Lomas says he is having his best March ever, it means something.
Lomas has worked in the lodging industry in Steamboat Springs for more than 20 years. He runs the Ptarmigan Inn hotel at the base of Mount Werner, the Alpiner Lodge downtown and Sky Valley Lodge on the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass.
"We're enjoying business from all sectors the Front Range, Internet and Best Western," Lomas said. "We even have a ski club from Great Britain."
He expects the Ptarmigan to establish a record for March revenue (in part because of increased room rates) but also possibly in percent occupancy, eclipsing the old record set in 2000.
Lomas declined to say exactly how full his hotel has been this month.
"This property almost never has walk-in business and we've had a lot of walk-ins this month," Lomas said.
March tourism is expected to go out on a high note this weekend, but the first few days of April may be a bigger story. April won't match march, but the tourists won't disappear from the landscape on April 1, either. The lodging barometer released by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association anticipates 10,731 people in town Saturday night. That's fewer than last weekend but a full 3,000 more than the corresponding Saturday last year.
The lodging forecast for Wednesday is also strong; the chamber anticipates 9,688 visitors will bed down here April 3, compared to 4,979 on the corresponding Wednesday last year. Tourism in Steamboat often drops off dramatically as soon as the calendar turns the page to April. Resort leaders expect 7,000 people in town on April 6.
The last day of ski season is April 14.
Lomas said he attributes the March business to public perception that Steamboat has the best spring snow in the country.
"Our product is topnotch. Steamboat is very desirable, regardless of who owns us. People don't care who signs the tax return," Lomas said, in an obvious reference to the news this week that American Skiing Co. intends to retain ownership of the ski area and will not sell it as planned.
While the Ptarmigan is on pace for a record March, Lomas said the Alpiner on Lincoln Avenue is holding its own with last winter's disappointing march. He attributes that trend to the increasing number of new properties on U.S. 40. Sky Valley Lodge is ahead of last March, Lomas said.