Regional: Lodging figures show powerful Glenwood rebound
It’s official. Glenwood Springs lodges recorded their biggest summer tourist season yet since the Great Recession hit, even surpassing the peak prerecession benchmark year of 2008.
And the ripple effect could be felt across several tourist-dependent sectors, leading to what several observers say was one of the best summers in recent memory for Glenwood Springs tourism.
“Our high season was very successful,” said Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
“We had great reports from hoteliers, attractions, food purveyors and retailers,” Langer said. “The tourism promotion board is very pleased with the positive outlook and encouraged by our marketing efforts.”
According to John Bosco, Glenwood Springs Tourism Board member and finance director for the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool, the summer of 2014 was a record-breaker on the lodging front.
His assessment is based on a review of the city’s June and July accommodations tax figures, as well as the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association’s August report of hotel occupancy levels and the average daily rate charged for rooms.
“I always like to track our recent accommodations tax performance to where we were in 2008, which was the last prosperous year before the economic downturn,” Bosco said.
That comparison showed that the city’s 2.5 percent tax on nightly stays brought in $132,418 in July. It was the third straight year the monthly “bed tax” collection exceeded the July 2008 figure of $111,513. Last year’s July take was $116,961, while the July 2012 figure was $112,067.
Tax figures for June, though less overall than July, were even more telling compared with previous years.
This past June, bed tax collections exceeded $100,000 for the first time ever, topping the June 2008 figure of $91,832. June collections were between $69,500 and $89,120 from 2009-2013.
The June and July figures also help push the year-to-date tax revenues 1 percent higher than they were for the first seven months of 2008, Bosco said. Collections so far this year are running 12.6 percent ahead of last year.
“Based on that analysis, I would say we’re back over the hump,” Bosco said. “It also says to me that the Denver economy is doing much better, since that is where we see most of our visitors coming from.”
Another indicator is the monthly Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, which contains occupancy and daily rate figures for about a dozen larger properties in Glenwood Springs that participate in the survey.
The August report indicates an 85.7 percent occupancy rate for available rooms during the month, at an average daily rate of $139.24 per night. Only Loveland and Fort Collins had higher occupancy rates than Glenwood Springs for the month, and the statewide occupancy rate for August was 79.9 percent.
For the year to date, Glenwood Springs lodges have maintained a 66 percent average rate of room occupancy, up from 61.6 percent for the same eight months of 2013. The average charge for a night’s stay at one of the larger Glenwood lodges is also up compared with last year, from $113.76 to $120.86.
Another statistic included in that report is the “average revenue per available room,” which is also up for Glenwood Springs lodges from $70.13 last year to $79.81 this year.
“We are charging more for rooms, and getting more, which is an indicator of what people are willing to do and spend,” Bosco said. “And Glenwood Springs is performing a little better than the state in that regard.”
The same trend could be seen with the Hot Springs Pool this summer, which also increased its rates and still saw more visitors, he said.
“We had a real strong season, outpacing last year and coming back to about where we were in 2008,” Bosco said. “All around, I think Glenwood Springs is becoming a real strong attractions market. There are a lot of things to do here.”
Glenwood Caverns and Adventure Park owner Steve Beckley concurred.
“It’s been our best year ever, and just a great summer,” Beckley said of one of Glenwood’s more popular summer attractions, which offers a variety of amusement park rides and game, and tours of the ancient Fairy Caves beneath Iron Mountain.
“Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s just been a phenomenal summer, and the whole town was very busy,” said Beckley, who also sits on the city’s tourism board.
Visits to the caverns alone have been up 8.2 percent through August, with 144,000 visitor days compared with 133,000 for the same period last year, he said.
The vast majority of visitors continue to be from the Front Range, Beckley added, although he noted an increase in foreign visitors coming to Glenwood Springs.
Strong visitor numbers have also helped to improve retail sales in Glenwood this summer, as evidenced by a near 10 percent increase in city sales taxes for July, and a 4.8 percent increase year to date over last year.
General retail sales continue to lag behind 2008 figures on a month-to-month basis, although the July sales tax figure this year of $1,454,752 was only about $12,000 less than July 2008.
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