Steamboat lodging is picking up

76 percent occupancy forecast for Saturday with 11,500 expected guests

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— Steamboat Springs lodging is expected to be about 75 percent full this weekend, and business is shaping up well for the typically busy month of March.

About 11,500 guests are expected in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, filling up 76 percent of area lodging, according to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's weekly occupancy forecast. Paired with 75 percent occupancy - 11,200 guests - in town the weekend of Feb. 21, lodging barometer numbers are looking better, said Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president for the Chamber.

"I'm very pleased. I think we've been picking up some steam again," Evans Hall said. "We've had some good weeks at Central Reservations in terms of phone volume."

Numbers for Saturday are down from the same weekend in 2008, when 12,800 visitors were forecast and 12,400 showed up. Weekend lodging numbers also were down Feb. 21 compared to the same Saturday in 2008, with 11,200 showing up this year and 12,400 last year.

Lodging forecasts come out each Wednesday and are based on a total of 17,281 rental pillows in town. Numbers are broken into four categories: mountain hotels, mountain condominiums, downtown lodging and other lodging. About 16,600 pillows are at or near the mountain.

Evans Hall said she expects to see increased guest traffic through March, as college spring breaks bring younger visitors to town. The only weekend in March that looks slow is that of March 28 - Evans Hall said she hopes the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships will pick up some of the spring break slack that weekend and that the remainder of ski season will be strong.

"I think we'll see a little bit of a pick-up in April because of Easter and Easter break," Evans Hall said. "And hoping we still have pretty good snow on the ground, we should be able to get a little bit more out of April than we did last year."

Forecasted guest numbers can increase in the downtown and other lodging categories depending on promotion packages and weather, Evans Hall said. The Chamber has made an effort this winter to release actual guest data from the previous week in each Wednesday's lodging barometer. The additional information is meant to keep local business owners as informed as possible, Evans Hall said.

"I think any additional information that we can provide at this point in time is helpful for businesses," she said. "They're just trying to understand their staffing and inventory needs."

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