Fares out of Houston less than $260

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Riley Polumbus was hanging around some sweet golf courses in Houston on Monday, where the temperature reached 80 degrees. But she swore it was all business.

Polumbus is the public relations director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and was in Texas to promote the direct jet flight from Houston to Yampa Valley Regional Airport that will begin this summer on Continental airlines. The Chamber and Continental announced Monday they would offer introductory fares as low as $238 from Houston, and connecting fares of $258 from Atlanta, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

"I'm hanging out at some golf courses letting people know about these fares," Polumbus said. "I've picked out some key people who know Steamboat well."

In addition to pitching the Yampa Valley flights to influential golf pros, Polumbus is meeting with editorial staff at the Houston Chronicle and a Texas-based golf magazine. Tuesday night she had an appointment with television meteorologist Neal Frank, who has developed an affinity for Steamboat through visits to the annual Weather Summit here in January.

The Chamber contracted with Continental to fly a single daily 50-passenger Embraer ERJ 145 jet between Houston and the Yampa Valley this summer. The service begins June 9 and continues through Sept. 7.

The inbound flight departs Houston (IAH) at 5:30 p.m. and arrives in Hayden at 7:37 p.m. After spending the night on the apron, the plane will turn around for Houston at 8:30 a.m., arriving in Texas at 12:14 p.m.

There are a limited number of the $238 and $258 fares, and they must be purchased by May 21. They are available only for midweek travel.

Consumers may have to adjust travel dates to find the lowest fares. Continental's Web page quoted a fare of $309 for a trip originating in Tampa on June 23 and returning via Houston on July 2. The quote included layover times of just more than an hour in Houston.

Polumbus said the flight is being promoted in Houston, Atlanta, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale with e-mail and direct mail campaigns targeting people who have visited Steamboat before or who have inquired about a Steamboat vacation.

Chamber director of Communications and Online Marketing Kim Mitchell said the Chamber has a $40,000 promotions and advertising budget. By offering promotional trip giveaways, Mitchell said, the Chamber has been able to leverage print and Web advertising with major newspapers in Houston, Atlanta and Tampa.

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