Holidays heavy on tourists | SteamboatToday.com

Holidays heavy on tourists

Steamboat resort properties expect full occupancy

Melinda Dudley

Restaurateurs Morton and Ellen Hoj have contracted to purchase a commercial space in The Victoria and will open a new restaurant there, The Diplomat, in June 2008. Their new restaurant will occupy the front corner space at Lincoln Avenue and 10th Street.

Although overall season reservations at Steamboat Springs’ winter resort and lodging properties are slightly down compared to last year’s figures, full occupancy is expected later this month as crowds arrive for the upcoming holiday period.

“Christmas keeps everybody hopping here,” said Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane. “People will start to see things pick up quite considerably as we move on into the holiday period and into January.”

Mountain Resorts properties will be at 100 percent occupancy between Dec. 26 and 30, and reservations are nearly full the first week of January, said Vice President of Guest Service Dan Clark. The Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Condominiums also are expected to be fully booked between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Lane said.

Group bookings also are strong in early January, in part thanks to the ninth annual MusicFest at Steamboat, Clark said. The concert series begins Jan. 5.

Large groups of collegiate winter-breakers are due to descend on Steamboat this week, having finished their finals for the fall term, and their business is a blessing to local properties. Students provide a good amount of business this early in the season, Clark said, noting that the “typical vacationer” does not arrive until after Christmas.

Despite good numbers for the upcoming holidays, reservations for the season overall are not quite up to par when compared to 2006-07 numbers.

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Early February in particular is down at the ski area, and while December has been a bit slow, things are expected to begin picking up with Steamboat’s nonstop flight program beginning last week, Lane said.

American Airlines’ 188-passenger Boeing 757s began arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Thursday – the first large planes of the season – from the Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare International airports. Ski season flights from Continental and United Airlines also began this weekend.

But reservation numbers can be misleading. Mountain Resorts is coming off of its best year in 2006 and does not expect to necessarily match those levels, Clark said.

Reservation call volume tends to peak in the two to three weeks after Christmas, as families get together during the holidays, assess the current snowpack and make their vacation plans for the winter, Clark said.

“As long as we keep getting some snowstorms, things should pick up dramatically,” Clark said.