Steamboat Springs resort community will be close to its holiday peak Dec. 28
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs could be in for a rockin’ New Year’s Eve after a relatively quiet Christmas Eve, based on the latest lodging forecast released by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Dec. 21.
The Chamber projects that resort lodging properties here will be 65 percent full with 10,200 people in town Saturday, Dec. 24.
The town will swell with holiday travelers beginning Wednesday, Dec. 28, when the number of visitors will reach 14,500. Guest lodging numbers will remain high through Dec. 31, with 13,100 people here celebrating the New Year.
Resort leaders in Steamboat have learned over the years that holiday travelers would prefer to celebrate at home on Christmas Day and board a direct flight to Steamboat on Dec. 26. However, peak inbound airline capacity at Yampa Valley Regional Airport occurs on the weekend with flights from Washington D.C., San Francisco and Newark, which don’t operate daily.
Inbound flights were booked at 76 percent capacity on Dec. 21, with 914 arriving passengers.
“It’s a bit of a conundrum in a year when Saturday is prior to Christmas,” Resort Group Vice-President of Marketing Larry Mashaw said. “Even though peak seats are on Saturday, I’m still sure that on Dec. 25 those flights will still be pretty full. People may not prefer to fly (Dec. 24 and 25), but they do when the convenience is there.
“We tell people that the 26th of December to Jan. 2 generally is the peak,” Mashaw explained. “Then it’s influenced based on what day of the week the 26th or 25th falls on. What we find is the week prior to Christmas we’re definitely at lesser occupancy, and in general terms, the larger, more family-oriented properties enjoy better occupancy than smaller places that appeal to the drive market.”
Steamboat’s lodging properties will be 65 percent full on Dec. 24 climbing to 91 percent Dec. 28, when mountain condominiums will be 96 percent full.
When one considers the Chamber’s forecast does not take into account vacation condo owners, friends and family who might be occupying the remaining 4 percent, occupancy in the mid- to high-90th percentile is the same as sold out.
“Of interest,” Mashaw said, “is that we’re seeing a noticeable spike in owners staying in their own rental units this year.”
He interprets that trend as a sign of confidence in the economy as vacation homeowners forego the opportunity to have their property occupied with renters during a high-demand period of the ski season.
Ralf Garrison, whose company DestiMetrics studies the mountain resort industry in the West, said a pronounced shift to booking later in December is being attributed to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on weekends.
November weather was not particularly helpful for early ski season visitation, according to Garrison.
While aggregated winter bookings among western resorts that participate in the DestiMetrics survey are up 2.7 percent from November through April, and revenues are up 10.4 percent, November bookings for arrival in November were down 25.9 percent.
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