Steamboat Springs The direct jet flights bringing vacationers to Steamboat Springs for the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend were 94 percent full Friday with 972 passengers on board, a good omen for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials who are pitching discounted airfares for reservations booked by the end of the month.
Some of the best fares are on Frontier Airlines, which flies daily to Yampa Valley Regional Airport from Denver with a 99-passenger Embraer E190 but also has strong connections to the West Coast.
Frontier is offering $200 round-trip flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix and Las Vegas, with Portland, Ore., a little pricier at $300.
Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said not to be surprised if there’s a familiar TV meteorologist on your flight to the Yampa Valley this weekend. Steamboat’s annual Weather Summit begins Sunday and, naturally, there is snow in the forecast.
“We’ll be conducting live shots to television stations around the nation as well as numerous hits for CNN,” Lane said. “Two of (CNN’s) meteorologists, Rob Marciano and Reynolds Wolf, are headed in. Hopefully, if the storm track continues and holds to some of the predictions on snow, we might even be able to get Jim Cantore (of The Weather Channel) live from the ’Boat.”
Officially, the National Weather Service is predicting a 60 percent chance of snow tonight building to 70 percent during the day Sunday and 80 percent Sunday night — almost a guarantee that the TV meteorologists will have something to buzz about.
This weekend also marks a three-day holiday for many in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Although the weekend is about much more than tourism, the holiday has become a key date on the ski season calendar. And despite the robust numbers at the airport Friday, Steamboat will need some late arrivals to surpass the corresponding weekend in 2010.
The lodging barometer released by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association predicts that 9,900 visitors will spend Saturday night in area lodging properties, yielding a 71 percent occupancy rate. That’s down from the forecast in 2010, when 10,000 were expected. Ultimately, Steamboat saw 1,200 late arrivals last year, boosting occupancy to 81 percent.
Vacationers planning to take advantage of the airline promotion by Jan. 31 should look for blackouts during key periods, for example, the run-up to Presidents Day weekend Feb. 18 to 20.
Delta has put Atlanta fares on sale for $300 round-trip and will jet vacationers to the Yampa Valley from Orlando, Fla.; New York; Raleigh, N.C.; Tampa and West Palm Beach, Fla., for $320.
American Airlines, Continental and United also are participating. United is offering round-trip flights from Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia for $330 round-trip.
The ski area hopes to book complete vacation packages with the promise of 20 percent discounts on lift tickets and lodging, but airfares are 15 percent higher when booked through Steamboat Central Reservations.
Alternatively, one could get lucky — Jackson Hole, Wyo., ski wear manufacturer Mountain Khakis is accepting entries through Monday for its Steamboat Sweepstakes. The grand prize is a four-night stay with Steamboat Resorts, a pair of three-day lift tickets and gear gifts.