|By Wayne Heilman, The Gazette (Colorado
Springs, Colo.)McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 19, 2012--Colorado Springs area hotels started last month to make a comeback from the Waldo Canyon fire, recording the first year-over-year increase in occupancy since the blaze killed two and destroyed nearly 350 homes this summer in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
Occupancy in area hotels rose to 63.5 percent during October, compared with 59 percent in October 2011, the first year-to-year increase since June and the largest such increase since July 2011, according to the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report. Local occupancy rates hit a 13-year high in July 2011, helped by a surge of visitors attending the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament. The October occupancy rate is the highest for any October in 10 years; occupancy rates generally drop sharply in October as part of a seasonal decline that bottoms out in December.
The average room rate for local hotels also was up in October, rising nearly 3 percent from a year ago to $86.91 and resuming a string of monthly gains that had continued for 18 months before dropping slightly in September.
Area hotels likely benefited this year from a surge in advertising by the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau to encourage Colorado residents to visit area attractions, hotels and restaurants to offset the lost revenue they suffered during the fire and its aftermath. The bureau spent $100,000 from its reserves and another $70,000 in donations on its "Welcome Back" advertising campaign that began in early July and continued until mid-October and was targeted at leisure travelers, meeting planners and event organizers.
Statewide, hotel occupancy in October also increased, improving from 58.3 percent in October 2011 to 62.9 percent this October, while the average room rate gained 7.3 percent to $120.02, the report said. The Colorado Springs area occupancy numbers don't include The Broadmoor hotel or Cheyenne Mountain Resort, two of the area's largest hotels; both are included with the state's ski resorts in a separate resort category.
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