Local: Summer tourism season winding down

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— Relief is in sight for locals who need a break from the summer tourism season, but they'll first have to make it though another busy weekend.

Projections from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association indicate this weekend will be the second busiest Saturday and Sunday of the summer.

"This is the last big, big weekend," said Riley Polumbus, spokeswoman for the Chamber.

The number of people expected to spend tonight in Steamboat lodges and condominiums is up 10 percent from the corresponding weekend in 2005. The Chamber's lodging barometer forecasts visitor occupancy at 13,415 people. That number is similar to what Steamboat experiences during a busy ski weekend.

"This weekend in particular seems like Christmas," Polumbus said. "It's Christmas in July."

Indeed it must seem that way for many local lodgings. Hotels along U.S. Highway 40 are having a busy summer and reaping the financial rewards that come with it.

"The last month and this weekend we've been booked full," Hampton Inn front desk manager Keith Latham said. "It was a great summer. Last year that wasn't the case so much."

"I think the economy is strong and people are staying longer," Polumbus said. "It's an overall national trend."

Things will begin to slow down next week as Triple Crown Sports World Series baseball and softball tournaments come to an end. Next weekend's occupancy projections are up 2 percent compared to the corresponding weekend from last year, but town should be noticeably quieter, Polumbus said. About 7,600 visitors are expected to occupy hotel, motel and condominium beds next Saturday.

The projections used by the Chamber for its lodging barometer are made after surveying the occupancy rates at various Steamboat lodging properties. Next weekend's projection is expected to increase over the coming week because of last-minute reservations made by travelers, Polumbus said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com.

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