Tourist count lower this week

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Steamboat Springs should be quieter this weekend than last weekend.

Without the boost that hosting state high school skiing championships provided last weekend, almost 1,500 fewer visitors are expected to stay in Steamboat tonight. That is according to the Steamboat Springs Lodging Barometer, an informal survey of area lodging properties compiled by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

While the Mavericks Superpipe Challenge is planned this weekend, hotels, condominiums and other accommodations aren't reporting the occupancy rates they enjoyed during last weekend's Colorado High School State Skiing Championships, said chamber public relations director Riley Polumbus.

The lodging sectors anticipating the biggest week-to-week decreases are mountain condos, where estimated occupancy is down 16 percent, and downtown lodgings, where occupancy is expected to fall about 14 percent.

Mountain hotels are the only lodging group expected to maintain a consistent 80 percent average occupancy level.

Representatives from the major hotels, including the Steamboat Grand, Steamboat Sheraton and Best Western Ptarmigan Inn reported sustained high occupancy all week.

Ptarmigan Inn clerk Dan Hughes said the hotel's occupancy increased. He said rooms were 90 percent occupied Friday, an 8 percent increase from last weekend.

Last Saturday, occupancy was up about 600 tourists from the corresponding day last year. But this weekend's count shows a dramatic decrease of almost 2,000 tourists from the corresponding weekend in 2003. This weekend, Steamboat will be about 70 percent occupied, compared to 81 percent at this time last year.

Though mountain hotels show the strongest level of occupancy, their levels are about 16 percent less than the numbers posted last year, which were at 95 percent.

Polumbus credits snowfall as the reason so many more people were in town at this time last year. In the last eight days of February 2003, 62.5 inches of snow fell on the summit of Mount Werner, according to the Steamboat Snow Report.

"Fresh powder always attracts a lot of Front Range people," Polumbus said. "Without it now, this is just the lull between February and spring break."

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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