January lodging tax numbers up as Steamboat Springs enjoys strong 2021-22 ski season | SteamboatToday.com

January lodging tax numbers up as Steamboat Springs enjoys strong 2021-22 ski season

Lodging accomodations in the Steamboat Springs have been busy this winter, the city’s accomodations tax bringing in 70.4% more than last year.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Piot & Today.

Scott Marr does not have to study the January sales tax numbers to know that this has been a busy winter in Steamboat Springs, but that hasn’t stopped him from looking at them.

“The (overall) sales tax numbers were up more than 30%, in spite of the fact that all those hotels closed,” said Marr, a Steamboat hotelier who owns the Holiday Inn. “We certainly benefited from the closure of all those hotels, no question.”

As is tradition, the hotel guests arrived in Steamboat Springs with the snow, and it showed in the December 2021 lodging and amenities tax numbers. The city of Steamboat collected $290,000 in 2021, up from $148,000 for the same month in 2020. That was a 95% increase, according to Kim Weber, finance director for the City of Steamboat Springs.

In January the lodging community continued to make a strong showing with lodging & amenities tax at 69.83% over last year, and the accommodations tax collections up 70.4%. That is a 1% tax that is paid for just lodging.

The amount of money the lodging & amenities tax brought also continued to grow, in 2022 that tax collected at $312,000 as compared to $183,000 in 2021.

“We’ll have a record winter this year,” Marr said. “We will run in the mid-90s occupancy wise, and with a higher rate.”

Marr said that his hotel has been impacted by COVID-19 the past couple of years, so the higher percentages are not totally unexpected. However, he expects that the numbers this year will surpass what he saw in 2019

Marr said when a number of properties — the Fairfield Inn, located at 3200 S. Lincoln Ave.; the Hampton Inn, located at 725 S. Lincoln Ave.; the Steamboat Hotel, located at 3195 S. Lincoln Ave.; and the former Steamboat Mountain Lodge, located behind the Steamboat Hotel — made the switch from moderately priced hotel rooms to workforce housing, it definitely had an impact. However, Laura Soard with the Steamboat Springs Chamber said there are a number of factors, including inflation, the cost for the hotel owners, and peoples travel behaviors as we emerge from the pandemic that have contributed to the increased tax collections due to higher room rates and higher occupancy rates.

“We track lodging occupancy, and we do see an increase in actual occupancy from this year over last year, so that’s part of it,” Soard said. “It’s not a dramatic increase, but it is an increase.”

She also said the rate people are willing to pay for a hotel room has also played a role in the increase.

“We also see an increase in ADR — that’s the average daily rate that properties charge, Soard said. “So those two things combined account for that big increase that we’re seeing in tax collections.”

She said that Steamboat is not alone when it comes to higher hotel prices. She said it’s a trend across the state and across the country as people start vacationing again after the pandemic.

Soard said the transition of moderately priced hotels in Steamboat to workforce housing has limited the supply of moderately priced accommodations resulting in a higher demand for those properties and, in some cases, leading visitors to make a reservation at a higher priced property.

“I would say probably the biggest thing that we’re noticing is people that would come and normally stay in those properties are now making a couple of choices. They are likely transitioning to other options in that price range, or moving to a higher price tier,” Soard said. “We’ve also talked to some people that have chosen to shorten their trips because the accommodation prices are higher, and also to some people who choose to just come for the day because they don’t want to stay in a higher-priced accommodation.”

Longtime hotel owner Greg Koehler, who runs the Rabbit Ears Motel in downtown, has also seen an increase in demand this winter.

“I noticed that the rates have gone up more than ever, but it just seems to be a sign of the time,” said Koehler, who is doing his best to maintain reasonable rates. “I’m still trying to keep my customers coming in. I’ve had some people who have stayed with me for years and years and years, and I want to keep them on coming back.”

He said the demand has definitely been higher this winter, and he agrees that the hotels that have opted to sell to become employee housing has impacted the market.

“It’s definitely different without having those hotels,” Koehler said. “We’ve probably gotten some customers that were turned away from those properties when they closed, and they came here and found out how good we are. I think that there’s people that will come back here because they like my location, my staff and my motel. I think it’s customers to me that probably would not normally go to an independent.”

He feels fortunate that Steamboat was the benefit of increased flights and enough snow this winter to keep the guests coming. He said traditionally things slow down a bit at the end of March, and he said he’s already looking forward to a short break before the busy summer season begins in a few short months.

“We stay really busy,” Koehler said. “Thankfully so — we are busy in the winter, and in the summer and even the shoulder seasons have been busier. You have to enjoy it because something can change very quickly — you just never know.”

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