Glenwood lodges saw downturn in summer occupancy | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood lodges saw downturn in summer occupancy

John StroudGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

Kelley Cox/Post IndependentKana Brevig, front desk supervisor at the Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs, helps a customer with information about the hotel and the area. As with other sectors related to the tourism industry locally, lodging occupancy was down during the summer season this year.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Though the economic downturn apparently had only a moderate impact on summertime business for local tourist attractions, Glenwood’s lodging statistics were most definitely off compared to normal.City of Glenwood Springs accommodations tax revenues are down 27 percent for the year through August – from nearly $600,000 for the first eight months of 2008 to slightly more than $435,000 for that same period this year, according to city finance department figures.And, for the summer months alone, occupancy rates for Glenwood Springs hotel and motel rooms included in a statewide lodging database were down an average of 9.2 percent.Of the 1,528 hotel, motel and bed & breakfast rooms available to guests in Glenwood Springs, 843 are included in the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report (RMLR).For those rooms, compared to the same three months last year, the occupancy rate was down 6.8 percent to 71.1 percent of full occupancy for June.That was followed by a 5 percent drop to 80.6 percent for July, and another 15.9 percent drop to just 72.5 percent for August.”One thing we realized for August is that a lot of the Denver schools start earlier now, and we’re losing some of those people,” said Kate Collins, vice president of marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “So I’m not sure we can attribute that to the economy as much as school calendars.”Still, occupancy rates for the summer months typically hover between 80 percent and 90 percent, based on statistics from 2006 through 2008, and historically going back several years before that.Year-to-date for 2009, Glenwood’s lodging occupancy has been running between 5 percent and 17 percent below last year’s figures.The occupancy rate even dropped below 50 percent in January, February and April of this year – something that hadn’t occurred at all in any month for the previous three years.Likewise, city sales taxes are also down an average of 17.4 percent for the year through August, including losses of between 17 percent and 20 percent through the summer months, compared to last year.

Still, for destination types of lodges such as the century-old Hotel Colorado, the numbers weren’t off as much as the lodging industry as a whole during the summer months.”It was an interesting summer,” Hotel Colorado General Manager John Burns said. “The recession had a tremendous impact on our group market, but our transient market held up well.””Transient” guests are those booking their stays within three weeks of their planned arrival.”People were making last-minute decisions to head up for a weekend,” Burns said. “This year has pretty much equaled our transient market from the year before. And it got better as the summer went on.”The hotel’s group market was a different story, though.”Some of our groups that had been booked well ahead of time canceled for the year, especially a lot of government and business groups,” Burns said.While the Hotel Colorado typically is booked up months ahead of time for summer weekends, there was some weekend availability this past summer right up until the week before, he said.”Overall, we were probably averaging in the low 70s [percent] occupancy over the summer,” Burns said. But that was only down about 2 or 3 percentage points from the previous summer, he said.As with Glenwood Springs as a whole, the primary customer draw for the Hotel Colorado is from the Front Range. And those guests tended to be more cost-conscious this year.”This year’s traveler was more shoppy, looking for better deals,” Burns said.For that reason, some of the Hotel Colorado’s package deals held strong, such as family and senior packages, and the popular swim-and-stay package that includes lodging and a pass to the Glenwood Hot Springs pool, he said.One definite impact on the travel industry for Glenwood this summer was also the disruption in Amtrak service through town for several weeks in July, August and September.”That didn’t get back into full effect until just this month, so there was a definite impact on train business coming our way,” Burns said.Looking ahead, he said October and early November are typically among the hotel’s slower months.But, “things are tracking pretty good for the transient market going into the holiday season and our Christmas lighting,” he said. “We usually do pretty good with that.”The Hotel Colorado kicks off the holiday season with the traditional hotel lighting ceremony and fireworks on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving.jstroud@postindependent.com