Downtown Steamboat tourism bookings heat up |

Downtown Steamboat tourism bookings heat up

Easton A's catcher Israel Gomez waits in the on-deck circle for his turn at bat during a Triple Crown game Friday afternoon at Howelsen Hill. Gomez, and the team he was playing for, traveled from San Diego to Steamboat to play in the tournament. Local businesses are hoping that the Triple Crown organization will continue to bring a steady stream of visitors to town this summer.John F. Russell

— Downtown lodging properties already were filling up Thursday as Steamboat goes deeper into the heart of its summer tourism season.

"We're seeing a lot of people coming in off the street looking for a room. I've already turned away 10 looking for a room tonight," Rabbit Ears Motel owner Greg Koehler said Thursday. "We're sold out the next three nights."

The lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association on Wednesday anticipated 9,500 visitors would spend the night here Saturday. That's more than the predicted 7,300 on the corresponding Saturday in 2011. More than 9,000 visitors actually showed up that weekend a year ago.

The Chamber doesn't foresee as busy a resort weekend as the community experienced July 13 to 15, when the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament helped bring 12,800 people to town that Saturday night. Of the total, 900 visitors booked rooms after the lodging report was released the preceding Wednesday. That number might have been larger, but with the resort's bed base more than 85 percent full, some weekenders may not have found the accommodations they wanted.

Koehler agreed that the national heat wave is giving Steamboat's summer tourism a boost but added that he expects his downtown motel to fill up in the third week of July anyway.

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"People perceive that we're cooler in the mountains, but it is not unusual, at least for my property," he said.

Steamboat's downtown lodging business has been boosted since 2008 with the addition of luxury condominiums that are rented nightly in projects such as The Olympian, Alpen Glow and Howelsen Place. The Chamber's lodging barometer expects the traditional motels — including the Nordic Lodge, Alpiner and Western Lodge — as well as downtown condos to be more than 90 percent full Saturday night.

Mountain hotels are forecast to be at least 80 percent full, and mountain condominiums, expected to be more than 50 percent full, will be up about 12 percent from the same Saturday in July last year.

What's ahead? Koehler says history has taught him that by Aug. 15, summer tourism will have begun to wane.

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