Glenwood Springs occupancy rates up in March |

Glenwood Springs occupancy rates up in March

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Occupancy rates for local hotel, motel and bed & breakfast rooms included in the monthly Rocky Mountain Lodging Report recorded their first percentage increase in more than two years last month.After 30 straight months of declines in the average percentage of occupied rooms in Glenwood Springs on a month-by-month comparison, the number of rooms filled last month was 55.7 percent, according to the March report made to the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association last week.That was up from a 52.8 percent average occupancy rate in March 2010, and 54.5 percent in March 2009.It was still down from the more than 70 percent occupancy rate for March posted during the three previous years, according to the historical data included in the report.The upward trend compared to last year was seen at mountain resorts throughout the Rocky Mountains, according to the most recent results released by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP).That report indicated that, collectively, destination mountain resorts in the western U.S. will be up 6 percent in lodging occupancy for this past winter season. For the month of March, actual regional occupancy was up 7.9 percent in 2011 compared to March 2010, according to the MTRiP report.For Glenwood Springs, the March number was the first monthly occupancy rate increase over the previous year’s number since August 2008, just before the national recession began to take hold.”We are encouraged by the increase in occupancy,” GSCRA vice president of tourism marketing Lindsey Lewis said. “We have been seeing increases in our accommodations tax revenues since last summer, but the occupancy hadn’t followed that same trend.”Through January and February of this year, the city’s 2.5 percent accommodations (lodging) tax was bringing in 5.7 percent more revenue than last year. The tax dollars are used to fund tourism marketing and promotions, primarily on the Front Range.

Even more encouraging, Lewis said, is that the occupancy number is rising a full two to three months before she expected to see any increases.The monthly report on occupancy and average daily room rates includes 1,728 short-term lodging rooms in Glenwood Springs.However, that number increased by 225 rooms early last summer when the new Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inns at Glenwood Meadows were added to the mix.Even with the higher total room count, stronger occupancy rates this year indicate more people were actually visiting Glenwood Springs this March than last.”We are cautiously optimistic as we enter into the summer season that the trend will hopefully continue,” Lewis said. “Spring break is always a busy time for us, and I think everyone was doing their part to bring more tourists to Glenwood Springs this winter and spring.”Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and Pool General Manager Kjell Mitchell said March was a strong month.”We did notice that March was particularly good,” he said. “We had about a 3 percent increase in room revenue for that month, although our occupancy was down 2 percent. Pool attendance was also up a little bit in March as well.”That, despite the fact that the number of cars passing through Eisenhower Tunnel headed west was actually down 5 percent for that month, Mitchell noted.With several sunny days and an average daytime high temperature of 41 degrees during March this year, Glenwood Springs was a popular destination, he said.”We were fairly flat for the winter season in general,” Mitchell said. “But I think there was enough cabin fever going around over on the Front Range that people wanted to get out and have a spring break in Glenwood Springs.”

Sunlight Mountain Resort sales and marketing director Dylan Lewis reported that the resort’s skier/snowboarder visits were roughly the same this past winter as last year.The approximately 77,000 skier days the Glenwood Springs resort posted this season was up just slightly from last year. But the 2009-10 numbers were up 9 percent over the 2008-09 season, he noted.”Last year is when we really rebounded, and this year we held the line, so that’s good,” Lewis said. “Our destination traffic, especially from the Denver area, was strong based on our survey data.”And the resort was able to make some gains in attracting tourists from the Colorado Springs area this winter, he said.”We saw a 4 percent increase in the number of people from that area,” Lewis said.Based on Sunlight’s mid-season survey, Denver-area visitors make up 62 percent of the resort’s destination market, he said.”I do know that, anecdotally at least, we had a strong spring break,” he said. “And season pass holder skier days were strong all season.”It didn’t hurt that Sunlight also had one of its better seasons in terms of snowfall. Sunlight recorded a total of 254 inches of snow this winter, and at one point topped out at an 80-inch base depth near the top of Compass Peak.”We finished the season with about a 60-inch depth,” Lewis said. “We really had great snowfall this year. For Sunlight, any time we can get in the neighborhood of 250 inches for the season, we’re in great shape.”

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