June 18, 2014 Updated: June 18, 2014 at 8:20 pm
Moving the Space Symposium to May from April this year helped lift hotel occupancies in the Colorado Springs area to the highest level for any May since at least 2000, while room rates jumped to record levels, according to the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.
The U.S. Space Foundation shifted the annual event - which attracts 9,000 participants from around the world - to May because of a major renovation project at The Broadmoor hotel, where the symposium takes place. The Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Resort are not included in the lodging report's totals for the Springs area, but the four-day events fills many other hotels in the area.
The occupancy rate for local hotels last month rose to 70.1 percent from 66.7 percent a year earlier. The increase followed declines in four of the previous five months.
Last month's average room rate increased to a record $99.31,, while the 6.8 percent year-over-year gain in May was the biggest since January 2012. The previous average room rate record was $99.28 in June 2013.
Amy Long, vice president of marketing and partnerships for the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, said lower gasoline prices than a year ago and a stronger U.S. economy also were factors in the improved occupany rate.
The gains in May were enough to lift hotel occupancy in the first five months of the year to 54.6 percent, up from 54 percent during the same period in 2013. The average room rate in 2014 has risen 1.3 percent to $88.06 from the same time last year.
The Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Resort are categorized separately from other local hotels because they're resorts. May's occupancy rate for that category was 34 percent and was up in the first five months of the year to 51.5 percent from 48.3 percent during the same period a year ago.
Statewide, hotel occupancy in May rose to 65.7 percent from 62.6 percent in May 2013 and is up for the first five months of the year to 64.7 percent from 59.5 percent a year earlier.
The average room rate for the state in May rose 2.5 percent from a year ago to $119.28 and the average for the first five months of the year increased 3.9 percent to $135.72.
Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234