Snow is good for Steamboat's business, but not when it falls in Atlanta during Presidents weekend

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— Winter resort towns are conflicted about snowfall patterns.

Towns like Steamboat Springs pray for tons of snow, but please God, not too much on our airport, or on airports in key destination cities, on the Saturday of Presidents Day Weekend.

Assuming the ice storm along the Eastern Seaboard doesn’t undermine the holiday weekend, Steamboat is likely to play host to more than 16,000 people Saturday night at the peak of the Presidents Day ski party. If it comes to pass, Lord willing, it will mark the last big peak of ski season 2013-14 with spring break still to come in March. But already, Delta Airlines flight 880 from Atlanta was pre-canceled on Thursday due to weather in Atlanta.

Larry Mashaw, vice president of sales and marketing for Resort Group, said his company’s Mountain Resorts Division manages 550 vacation condominiums here, and by this part of the season, most of the business is in hand for that lodging sector.

“By mid-February, the condominium market is 90 percent of the way in terms of dollars," Mashaw said. “We’ll have a good March, but they’ll be shorter stays. We aren’t as apt to see the five- and six-day stays of February. But our strong snow message and all of the Olympic messaging out there can extend our sales season because people are watching winter sports at night.”

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association projected Wednesday that 15,687 people would spend Saturday night here, and based on the fact that last weekend’s visitation grew by 400 people beyond the lodging barometer projection, 16,000 appears to be a reasonable goal. That’s especially so given the fact that the barometer does not take into account the friends, family and second homeowners who will show up as Valentine’s Day rolls into George Washington’s birthday party.

If the 16,000 skiers and riders materialize, recent history tells us they will represent the last big surge of the season. That was the case on the 13th week of the ski season in 2013 when the Chamber’s follow-up poll shows that 14,500 actually spent the corresponding Saturday in Steamboat. In, 2012, when the snow report was relatively anemic compared to Friday morning’s bullish 73-inch base at mid-mountain, Steamboat’s lodging properties were 68 percent full compared to this week’s projected 97 percent occupancy.

Snow and the wintry mix falling in North Carolina and New Jersey Thursday could also prove to be the wild card in Steamboat’s Presidents Day weekend.

As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration was reporting that Newark International Airport, N.J., had placed a hold on flights bound for its runways due to snow and ice. It was a similar situation at Logan International in Boston, Mass., and Charlotte International in North Carolina.

The National Weather Service was forecasting a 60 percent chance of snow in Newark Saturday, amounting to one to two inches during the day when United Airlines is scheduled to operate its one flight of the week to Steamboat from the New York metro area on an Airbus 140 to 150-passenger Airbus 320.

Other key airports for Steamboat and Yampa Valley Regional Airport, including Chicago O/Hare, Houston, Dallas and Minneapolis, were all seeing delays of just 15 minutes or less on departures and arrivals Thursday afternoon.

The National Weather Service was forecasting that YVRA would see a slight chance of rain and snow before 8 a.m. Saturday, the heaviest travel day of the weekend.

Steamboat Ski Area was reporting season snowfall totals of 270 inches at mid-mountain and 300.5 inches at the summit.

And Scott Marr, owner of the Holiday Inn Steamboat said Steamboat’s enviable snow conditions are definitely fueling the resort’s robust winter. His property was oversold Friday through Sunday until his staff placed guests at other properties.

“The snow story has just been great,” Marr said. “And I think we probably are working our way through an improving economy. People have been adjusting to the new normal for so long, it’s not bugging them as much as it used to.”

Marr said his property enjoyed a very strong January.

“We actually were up 24 percent January 2014 over January 2014, and about half of it was increased occupancy and half increases in our rates,” Marr said.

A big piece of the Holiday Inn Steamboat’s business comprises Front Range residents who drive to Steamboat Springs. Marr said Feb. 21 and 22 also look very strong and the first half of March looks good, but the outlook for the second half of next month is still unknown.

The late Easter Sunday, falling on April 20 this year, has focused public school spring breaks into the second week in March. But April will pull some March business into the final two weeks of the ski season if only because Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is also late this year.

Mashaw said he does not rely on the Chamber lodging barometer to gauge business and prefers to look at the city’s lodging sales tax reports for the true story.

January figures have not been released yet, but December was up 14.7 percent (reflecting revenues). It would be too much to expect similar revenue growth for January, Mashaw said, but occupancy rates at mountain condos were up each Saturday in January by 5 to 9 percent.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 months, 1 week ago

"... is likely to play host to more than 16,000 people Saturday "

Wrong again lazy newspaper. Lodging index is not the number of visitors. Lodging index is maximum number of people that could stay in occupied units, not the actual number staying. So when a motel room with two beds is rented to a couple then lodging index counts 4 as a couple could occupy each bed, but only two people are staying there.

According to Scott Ford, who helped create the lodging index, the actual number of visitors is well below the lodging index number. The lodging index was created as an indicator that could as easily be a 1-10 rating of projected level of upcoming tourism.

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rhys jones 2 months, 1 week ago

Try to sell Global Warming in Atlanta right now.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 2 months, 1 week ago

Rhys, The true believers don't care. Oz is all over me saying I am "one of those people" because I am not a "global climate change" due to man believer.

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Mark Ruckman 2 months, 1 week ago

Scott, is there a subject you are not an expert on? Is there a story in the paper that you don't find fault with?

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mark hartless 2 months, 1 week ago

That's why they switched their rhetoric to "Climate Change".

And what a huge door that opens for 'em since the climate has and will ALWAYS be changing. Therefore they will ALWAYS have an excuse to meddle.

Once upon a time there was a great stock operator who attended a cocktail party. When asked "Do you know what the market will do?" the room fell silent. He immediately answered confidently "Yes, it will continue to fluctuate."

So too will the climate of our planet; just as it has done for thousands of years before internal combustion, coal, or any other "boogey men" appeared. There will be warmer than average times, colder, snowier, violent storms, etc. Man will face challenges to feed, house, and proivide water for a burgeoning population, just as he has faced since the dawn of civilization.

If allowed to think, create and react instinctively, man will rise to these challenges just as he has done throughout history.

The question is not whether or not the climate will change but whether or not we will cowar in the shadows like Chicked Little or embrace the future while being good stewards of what we have been given.

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john bailey 2 months, 1 week ago

some of the snow outside the house changed from snow to water today. whats that mean?

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mark hartless 2 months, 1 week ago

And some of that tricksy snow turned directly into gas or vapor, skipping the liquid stage altogether. A process called sublimation.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 1 week ago

This paper's continued misreporting of number of visitors does matter. If our city council believes there are 16,000 tourists in town then they may spend extra money on additional police that aren't needed since there are really 7,000 or so tourists.

On the other hand, if the public believes we have the misreported number of tourists then the airline subsidy program is seen as being in a small percentage of tourists and may lose public support for the large sums spent.

And at least the paper's editor knows that the lodging index is not the number of tourists and so this paper knowingly prints false information.

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Mark Ruckman 2 months, 1 week ago

Scott, there is a lot of "IF's" in your statement.

Please give the citizens and government officials a little credit. We know the numbers are not exact. We don't need someone being our watchdog for every single issue.

If you were to put your vast energy into creating and executing solutions instead harping and nagging think how much you could help the community that you believe you need to protect.

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john bailey 2 months, 1 week ago

Mark R , give em a little credit for not using the word , thus.....its tough I know but come on...~;0)... Mark H. and here I figured it just evaporated .LOL....

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Madison Slater 2 months, 1 week ago

"We don't need someone being our watchdog for every single issue."

I fully disagree with you Mark. Who's watching the watchers? Thanks Scott.

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mark hartless 2 months, 1 week ago

Scott makes some really valid points from time to time. Unlike the gubbamint, if one doesn't like Scott's position one can ignore him. He has every right to express his opinions and seems fairly coherent to me.

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Scott Wedel 2 months ago

The error is that the paper says the lodging index is number of tourists when it is number of pillows in occupied lodging. The difference between the lodging index and the number of tourists is substantial, actual number of tourists is closer to half of the occupied pillows of the lodging index.

I've been told that Ski Corps management has, in the past, been asked by their owners why ski area was selling tickets to a relatively low percentage of "tourists". That Ski Corps management has had to explain that the paper misreports number of tourists.

The wrongly reported number of tourists has been mentioned in city staff reports and by the city council. Whether that false information has made any differences in policy is not knowable. But having such a wrong number commonly quoted is certainly likely to affect policy. The justifications for the new police station and it's size appears to include these false numbers.

The false number of tourists certainly suggests that tourism is a far bigger part of the local economy than the calculated 30% based upon economic data. So the wrong numbers continues to skew government policy towards tourism and away from LNBs and other local workers.

Finally, why is it okay for the newspaper to knowingly print false information? The paper knows that the lodging index is not the number of tourists, but they keep mislabeling the lodging index..

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