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During March, 2009  Hotel Occupancy at Utah's Mountain Resorts
 Was 59.6%, Off  of 71.5% Pace a Year Earlier

By Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 21, 2009 --The latest monthly hotel occupancy figures indicate how tough the recession has been on Utah's mountain resort communities.

In March, a big month for the ski industry, resort hotels filled 59.6 percent of their available rooms nightly. That was well off the 71.5 percent pace of the same month a year earlier, which in turn represented a drop-off from the 76.1 percent occupancy level of March 2007, according to the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.

The amount of money hoteliers could charge nightly did not slip as much, going from $278 in March of 2008 to $263 this year. But there was a more significant drop in the figure hoteliers pay attention to -- Revpar, or revenue available per room, a number that also includes expenses and taxes. It fell to $157 per night last month after being almost $199 a night in March 2008.

Elsewhere in Utah, the decline in occupancy rates continued in March, but at a slower pace than in preceding months.

Hotels statewide filled 62.2 percent of their rooms nightly last month, down from 69.4 percent in March 2008. But the 7 percent decline was better than year-to-year comparisons for January and February, both of which experienced 9 percent drops.

Salt Lake County hotels had similar performances. Their occupancy rate in March, 67.5 percent, was 5.4 percent off the showing in the same month in 2008, but better than the 7-8 percent year-to-year slides posted in January and February.

The average room rate went down $5 a night statewide, $4 a night in Salt Lake County, the Lodging Report said.

Across the state, St. George hotels filled 66 percent of their rooms last month, just slightly off the year-earlier rate of 69 percent. Ogden hotels did the next best at 65 percent. The most vacancies were reported in Cedar City (40.8 percent nightly occupancy) and Logan (41.2 percent).

mikeg@sltrib.com

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