Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Rain and high temperatures do not seem to be deterring tourists from coming to Steamboat Springs.
Ten thousand tourists are expected to be in Steamboat on Saturday, filling 66 percent of the town's lodging facilities, according to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Lodging Barometer. The number is an increase of about 700 tourists from the corresponding weekend last year.
The bulk of this weekend's bookings are at mountain hotels, while other lodgings are lagging.
Business at the Best Western Ptarmigan Inn is consistent with the Lodging Barometer's prediction that mountain hotels will be 86 percent full this weekend. Ptarmigan Inn General Manager Mike Lomas said his hotel is "extremely busy" and more than 90 percent booked this weekend.
"This week and next week are good," Lomas said. "It's encouraging because the first two weeks of March were softer than we've experienced in recent years."
Lomas said he thinks the reason mountain hotels are stronger is because of the last-minute booking and walk-in nature of hotels on the U.S. Highway 40 corridor.
Nite's Rest Motel Manager Cindy Stillwell agreed.
"I've only got a few reservations, like five or six," Stillwell said. "But I get a lot of walk-ins or people calling in at the last minute."
Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs Manager Kelly Lansford said her hotel also is about 50 percent booked, a drop from the corresponding weekend last year.
"People are still skiing; they're a little concerned about what they are going to be finding when they get here, but they're still skiing," Lansford said, addressing some visitors' concerns about the rain.
Steamboat Ski Area marketing executive Andy Wirth said Steamboat's snow conditions, particularly on the upper mountain, give it a competitive advantage over other ski areas in the state. Despite wet spring snow, Steamboat has more of it than major competitors. The base at Steamboat ranges from 51 inches at mid-mountain to 64 at the summit. That compares favorably to Aspen Mountain with 43 and 50 inches, and Vail, with 42 inches both at mid-mountain and its summit.
"We will be open through our scheduled closing date on April 11 without any doubts whatsoever," Wirth said.
Ski area grooming crews will push snow from the tubing hill near the bottom of the ski area onto the Headwall trail this weekend to ensure it has adequate snow cover, Wirth added.
"The trails are still open," Lomas said. "We should take a look at the positive side of all this."
Many visitors are staying in mountain-area condos this weekend, with occupancy projected at 61 percent. And while downtown and other lodging properties are projected to be 33 percent and 40 percent booked, respectively, last-minute bookings should make for a profitable weekend for Steamboat.
Tourist numbers are expected to drop Wednesday to 7,100, filling about 47 percent of Steamboat's lodging properties. That number drops to 6,400 and 43 percent next Saturday.
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