Lodges expect to be busier than last year

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— The Steamboat Springs lodging industry is poised to post gains this weekend over last year.

The lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association projects that 10,103 people will spend the night here Saturday. That's nearly 1,200 more visitors than on the corresponding Saturday in 2002.

John Santaniello, general manager of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center, said his property was nearly full at midweek. Mountain hotels are expected to be 77 percent full on Saturday compared to 57 percent full last year.

Overall, Steamboat's lodging properties are projected to be 66 percent full this weekend. Those figures are somewhat skewed by the fact that the resort's bed base grew by 233 "pillows" to 19,150 this year.

Downtown lodging properties are expected to see occupancy levels up by almost 13 percent Saturday, compared to the same time last year. However, even that uptick translates into occupancy levels of just 44 percent.

Mountain condos are expected to be 63 percent full this weekend, a couple of points behind last year.

Barbara Robinson of the Holiday Inn on U.S. Highway 40 said her business has been down about 10 percent in January. However, she expects February and March to be even or slightly ahead of last year.

The decrease in January business was attributable to an unusual circumstance, Robinson believes. January 2002 saw a significant number of family groups.

"We saw a lot of family travel after Sept. 11," Robinson said. "This year we didn't have that. People were staying closer to home."

The positive trend continues into midweek when 8,461 people are projected to be here next Wednesday. The early forecast for Feb. 1 suggests Steamboat will be hoping for late reservations; the lodging barometer foresees 9,781 people here compared to 12,410 on the first Saturday in February 2002.

The lodging barometer is not a scientific poll but an incomplete survey intended to give employers a means to gauge staffing levels.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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