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Lodging stronger for holidays than last year with occupancy nearing 90% next week

The holiday season in Steamboat Springs is shaping up to be a busy one, with the week between Christmas and New Year’s seeing local lodging occupancy nearing 90% on some days.

Based on the latest occupancy report from the Steamboat Springs Chamber released last week, Dec. 30 could be the busiest day, with the expected occupancy about 20% higher than it was on the same day last year.

“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence this year,” said Laura Soard, marketing director for the Chamber. “I would say this is more on par with what we would traditionally see during between Christmas and New Year’s week — definitely stronger than last year.”



It isn’t just next week, though, as occupancy already booked through the middle of February is coming in higher than it did last year, as well. Soard attributes the rebound to increased confidence among travelers.

“Many people saw their travel plans disrupted last year and are eager to get some of that time back,” Soard said. “We already have one ski season during COVID under our belts to ease some of that concern that travelers saw last year.”



Lodging numbers for the week between Christmas and New Year’s are outpacing last year, with Dec. 30 having about 90% occupancy.
Steamboat Springs Chamber/Courtesy graphic

There has also been an increase in reservations after Steamboat finally saw some meaningful snowfall, and Steamboat Resort was able to open significantly more terrain.

Occupancy for the first week of 2022 looks to be strong, as well, at close to 80%, exceeding bookings at this time last year by nearly 30%.

Something that’s potentially helping with bookings after the holidays is a return of local events, such as Music Fest at Steamboat, which is back on the calendar for early January after a hiatus last year.

“I don’t think Steamboat is unique in this, I think just across, Western especially, ski resorts, we’re seeing very strong demand,” Soard said. “People are excited to get out and ski and to take those family vacations.”

Many of those travelers will arrive via the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which ramped up the number of flights beginning last week. The airport has more direct destinations flying into Hayden than ever before, and officials are expecting a record number of passengers this season.

“We actually have a busy day on Christmas Day,” said Airport Director Kevin Booth. “And then Sunday, we have a bunch of people coming in and leaving.”

Booth said he anticipates about 4,000 people will pass through the airport Sunday, Dec. 26. Typically 3,000 passengers in one day is considered pretty busy.

“Saturdays and Sundays are just busy,” Booth said. “Mostly, during the holidays, it will even out as we get through the holiday period.”

Fares around the holidays are also steeper than normal — with some round trip flights next week between Hayden and Denver garnering more than $600 — but Booth said he expects that to ease after the holidays.

Just because Hayden is a small airport doesn’t mean people don’t need to arrive early, Booth said, especially when things are so busy.

Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays are typically the busiest because that is when the most flights are departing Hayden.

“It is smart to follow whatever the airline tells you and not assume that we’re a small airport and everything will go quicker than it normally would at a larger airport,” Booth said.


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