Glenwood’s lodging, dining industries serve up healthy 2018 sales rebound | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood’s lodging, dining industries serve up healthy 2018 sales rebound

Barista Cathy Jackson makes a drink for a customer at Legends coffee shop inside the Hotel Colorado on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

With all of last year’s sales tax receipts now in the books, Glenwood Springs’ lodging and dining industries told a compelling chapter in 2018.

According to the city’s sales tax earnings for 2018, Glenwood’s lodges and its eating and drinking establishments enjoyed 8.3 and 9.5 percent increases, respectively, compared to their 2017 performances.

Combined, the two industries served the city approximately $4.46 million in sales tax revenue over the course of 2018, reflecting $120.5 million in total restaurant/bar and hotel/motel sales for Glenwood Springs.

“Especially with Hotel Colorado, the Riviera Supper Club has enjoyed a really close relationship and has even gone so far as to book entertainers together,” Riviera Supper Club & Piano Bar owner Jonathan Gorst said, commenting on the way Glenwood’s lodging and dining businesses complement each other.

“It really works out well, and last summer we even went into kind of a joint venture there for a while, where we were bringing in musicians from all over — Denver, Seattle, Austin,” Gorst said. “They would stay at the Hotel Colorado for a night, play in the courtyard for [Hotel Colorado’s] happy hour and then come over to the Riviera the next night and play the evening and enjoy a nice dinner.”

bridged a year

Overall, based on the year-end sales tax figures, the city saw a 5.9 percent increase in retail sales activity for 2018. It was a huge rebound from 2017, when many Glenwood Springs businesses were impacted by the Grand Avenue Bridge construction.

For 2018, the city took in nearly $18.3 million in sales taxes, reflecting total retail sales for the year of approximately $493.6 million. City sales tax collections also surpassed 2015 and 2016 numbers.

Out of the city’s 15 sales tax categories, only three dipped, with marijuana sales taking the biggest hit.

According to the sales tax numbers, in 2017, Glenwood’s marijuana industry passed over $248,000 in sales tax revenue to the city. In 2018, that number dropped to roughly $229,000, for 7.5 percent decrease.

“I’ve been told that a lot of this decline has resulted from more shops opening down valley,” Glenwood Springs Chief Operating Officer Steve Boyd said of Glenwood’s marijuana businesses.

Without question, he said, when the city’s lodging industry performs well, it subsequently spells good news for many of Glenwood’s other heavily relied-upon sales tax generators.

“We are largely a tourism economy, so when [hotel and motel] revenue is up, tax revenues increase in general,” Boyd said.

Glenwood’s separate lodging, or accommodations tax, also saw an 8 percent increase in collections for the year. The nearly $1.2 million in lodging taxes collected for 2018 will go toward tourism promotion for the city.

Boyd explained that, in 2018, Glenwood’s general retail sales numbers performed well too.

“We were off about 2 percent from 2016 to 2017, primarily because the bridge was down for a third of the year,” Boyd said. “In 2018, we returned to our normal level of output, and tax revenues came in right on our forecast.”

Overall, in 2017, the city collected approximately $17.2 million worth of sales tax. In 2018, Glenwood raked in roughly $18.3 million.

proximity matters

“We support the symbiotic relationship between the three arms of our vibrant tourism industry,” Hotel Colorado General Manager Christian Henny said of the numerous lodging, dining and tourist attractions.

“We believe in the old saying, ‘all ships rise with the tide,’ and are thrilled to have the city’s historic restaurant row just a short walk over the pedestrian bridge from Hotel Colorado,” he said.

Gorst said the city’s restaurants share that same sentiment about their proximity to lodging.

“Restaurant row is a unit, and can function as a unit, and make all of the restaurants greater when we act that way,” Gorst explained. “We are working together and we are promoting each other.

“When somebody knows I have a Broadway dinner coming up, they are the first to mention it to their guests,” he said. “Likewise, when [the Riviera] is closed for a Broadway dinner, I am referring people to the other restaurants.”

Henny added that Hotel Colorado looks forward to 2019 being an even stronger year, with the soon to open Glenwood Gondola at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and the new Adventure River at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort.

mabennett@postindependent.com