Forecast projects more visitors this weekend than last year |

Forecast projects more visitors this weekend than last year

Mike Lawrence

Babette Brown and her daughter Ruby stroll through downtown Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon. More visitors are expected this weekend than last year, a lodging barometer predicts.

— Steamboat Springs could see one more burst of visitors before sliding into shoulder season.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s lodging barometer – the final report until winter forecasts begin Nov. 25 – estimates that about 33 percent of the city’s rental pillows will support sleeping heads this weekend, up from about 20 percent for the same weekend in 2008.

The percentages represent an expected 4,500 guests tonight, up from about 3,000 a year ago. Local lodging operators cited several reasons for the upswing, including conventions, the attraction of changing fall colors and increasing consumer confidence.

This weekend’s lodging increase is especially dramatic in hotels at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, where about 66 percent of pillows could be occupied, as opposed to about 25 percent on this weekend last year.

Karla O’Day, executive assistant at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, said the Sheraton was hosting two conventions this weekend: that of the Colorado Municipal Judges Association, with more than 85 attendees; and one for The Group Inc., a Fort Collins real estate organization that is bringing about 150 people to Steamboat.

“We’ve had pretty good group business,” said John Curnow, general manager at the Sheraton, adding that he’s also seen vacationers. “Certainly we’re seeing with the fall colors, people are getting out of Denver for some last-minute leisure. : We were very busy last weekend, and we’re very busy this weekend.”

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Andy Wirth, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., which operates the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel, said the Grand was hosting a group with the United Church of God this weekend. The group has “nearly run of house,” Wirth said, meaning it is occupying the majority of the Grand’s 1,100 pillows.

“We’re actually quite pleased with the Steamboat Grand’s performance. : Not only are occupancies up, but it’s actually performing quite well from an (average daily rate) perspective,” Wirth said.

Michelle Redmond, general manager of the Steamboat Hotel and the Bunkhouse Lodge, said she is seeing spillover guests this weekend from the United Church of God convention, along with seasonal visitors.

“We’re starting to see the hunters,” Redmond added.

Barbara Robinson, general manager of the Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs, said the past couple of months have shown positive signs for local lodging and business.

“We had a surprisingly good September – actually, so was August – August and September did not see the same drop-off as June did, for I believe most of us” in the hospitality industry, she said. “Right now, we have changing of the leaves that is very popular for people.”

Robinson is “cautiously optimistic” about winter bookings.

“It’s not going to be like it was two years ago, which was one of our records, but I think we’ll be doing fine,” she said. “I think people are having more confidence.”

Robinson, at least, is confident the economy will rebound out of the recession.

“We are building 35 more rooms and suites – they will be on line next summer,” she said.

The rooms will be in a new wing attached to the main building, Robinson said, and will increase the inn’s capacity to host larger groups. Construction is under way on the addition.

“We anticipate that when the building is open next summer, that our tourism will be back to normal, and it will give us a chance to grow just when the market is coming back on the upswing,” she said.

By the numbers

Local lodging forecasts show an increase in the percentage of occupied pillows at some locations and a dip at others for the weekend of Oct. 3 this year and last.

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009

Base area hotels: 66 percent

Base area condos: 16 percent

Downtown: 23 percent

Other lodging: 41 percent

Total : 33 percent

Projected pillows: 4,500

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008

Base area hotels: 25 percent

Base area condos: 14 percent

Downtown: 9 percent

Other lodging: 58 percent

Total: 21 percent

Projected pillows: 3,000

Source: Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association