Skiers and snowboarders ride down the See Ya trail at Steamboat Ski Area on Thanksgiving Day. Local resorts are expecting to see 4,000 visitors spending Saturday night in Steamboat Springs hotels and lodges.

Skiers and snowboarders ride down the See Ya trail at Steamboat Ski Area on Thanksgiving Day. Local resorts are expecting to see 4,000 visitors spending Saturday night in Steamboat Springs hotels and lodges.

Resorts expect 4,000 visitors Saturday

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— The resort community is anticipating that just more than 4,000 visitors will spend Saturday night in hotels and lodges in Steamboat Springs - not bad for a Thanksgiving with limited available skiing terrain at the mountain.

But drawing comparisons between this holiday weekend and the past two Thanksgivings is a tricky task.

Comparing this Saturday's lodging occupancy to the 3,000 visitors who over-nighted in Steamboat on Nov. 24, 2007, is misleading. That's because holiday skier traffic on the opening weekend of 2007 was greatly influenced by the fact that the ski area was forced to delay the opening by 10 days. Steamboat was not open for skiing on Thanksgiving 2007.

Another factor to consider is that Thanksgiving occurred a week earlier on the calendar in 2007.

The ski season of 2007-08 will always be remembered for record snowfall, but few have forgotten that Steamboat got off to a nervous start. The ski area opened Nov. 30, 2007, with 6 inches of new snow and the promise of more on the way.

This weekend's tourism will be sufficient to fill 28 percent of the available guest beds, and one could compare that number favorably with the corresponding Saturday in 2006, when the hotels and condos were expected to be 26 percent full. However, that measuring stick also would be misleading because Steamboat's bed base has lost 1,600 short-term pillow units in those two years.

Barbara Robinson, general manager of the Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs, was thankful early this week that she had the opportunity to greet guests she didn't know were coming to her property for the holiday week.

"Surprisingly, it's been going on all week," Robinson said. "We began seeing some walk-in traffic as early as Monday."

In aggregate, U.S. Highway 40 hotels can expect to be 47 percent full Saturday night. Mountain hotels will be just 18 percent full, and mountain condominiums will be 27 percent full.

The lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, which is not a scientific survey, already is anticipating that a similar number of visitors will be in town Dec. 6.

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