USA Pro Challenge, other events bolster lodging properties

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— The USA Pro Challenge cycling race hits Steamboat Springs midweek this year rather than the weekend stop it made in 2011, but lodging numbers this time around are looking better than two years ago.

Part of that difference is the number of other events taking place in Steamboat this week.

The Colorado Water Congress is holding its summer conference starting Wednesday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, and The Steamboat Institute's Freedom Conference will be at The Steamboat Grand starting Friday.

“The USA Pro Challenge, along with some overflow from the Colorado Water Congress at the Sheraton, has turned what is typically a slower period into quite a busy one for The Steamboat Grand,” Mike Lane, public relations director for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., wrote in an email. “While there are still some larger units available, the Grand has seen its destination travelers more than double this week over last year due to the events and activities taking place across the community. It will be a fantastic opportunity to shine with so many teams, spectators and guests in Steamboat Springs.”

Larry Mashaw, vice president of sales and marketing for Resort Group, said that all the complimentary lodging necessary to host an event like the USA Pro Challenge, which is a substantial amount, is being supplied in the mountain area.

“We see very little business in the short term,” he said, adding that the goal is to highlight Steamboat as a destination with the hopes that it pays off in the long term.

The majority of bookings associated with the cycling event are for one night, Mashaw said, and that makes hotels along U.S. Highway 40 the natural fit rather than condo rentals.

The lodging barometer compiled by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, which samples lodging property reservations to estimate the number of guests, forecasts that mountain condos will have the lowest level of occupancy Wednesday night while mountain-area and downtown hotels look to have more than 75 percent of their beds filled.

The actual Saturday occupancy for this week in 2011, according to the barometer, was 48 percent. The forecast for Wednesday is 59 percent.

In 2011, the first year of the cycling tour, downtown hotel Alpiner Lodge reported being only 40 percent full midweek, and while that number jumped to 75 percent by Friday, most of its weekend business was not related to the race.

This year, Loy Hupman, general manager of the Alpiner Lodge, said the hotel is almost full for Wednesday night.

“It’s all been coming in here in the last month,” she said, citing TripAdvisor as a source of reservations.

Hupman said the location of the hotel on Lincoln Avenue in the middle of Wednesday’s activities is a selling point.

The Holiday Inn south of downtown reported being about 75 percent full for Wednesday night.

“You know, it’s been a really odd fall,” said Lauren Bible, front office manager. “We’re finding everyone's booking really last minute.”

Bible said reservations for Monday night were stronger than for both Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The lodging barometer projects occupancy will taper off heading into the weekend.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

2013 USA Pro Challenge road closures

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