Occupancy appears down for weekend in Steamboat

Lodging barometer predicts fewer people to be in Steamboat compared with 2010

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— With the official beginning of autumn six days away, resort officials in Steamboat Springs are expecting 4,800 people to enjoy a last summer weekend here.

If the last summer weekend of 2011 is similar to that of 2010, tourism could see a substantial bounce in last-minute reservations.

The lodging barometer rel­­­eased by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association every Wednesday during summer and winter tourism seasons predicted 5,000 visitors would spend the Saturday night of Sept. 18, 2010, here. But 6,600 people actually showed up to fill local rooms.

As a group, U.S. Highway 40 lodging properties are expected to outperform the condominiums at the ski base as well as mountain hotels and downtown lodges this weekend. The latter are projected to be flat or off a fewer percentage points compared with the same weekend in 2010.

The Steamboat Grand General Manager Mike Lomas said his property hosted several corporate groups during the week, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, but he expects the hotel to be quiet this weekend.

However, the U.S. 40 properties are expected to see 64 percent occupancy this weekend compared with a projected 58 percent occupancy that swelled to 94 percent full last year.

“We’ll do a little better than (64 percent full) this weekend,” Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs General Manager Barbara Robinson said Thursday. “Business has been steady all September.”

Robinson theorized that short-term lodging properties are attractive for autumn weekend getaways because they don’t require minimum stays. Condos with kitchens and multiple bathrooms typically discourage overnight visitors because housekeeping services are more involved.

The fall color display in aspen forests from Dunckley Pass to Hahn’s Peak attract many autumn travelers to the Yampa Valley before they typically peak around Sept. 29 to Oct. 2. However, the first signs of changing leaves that often appear in the gladed ski runs of Priest Creek have yet to appear.

“That could mean autumn business will stretch out a little,” Robinson said.

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