Hotels in Colorado Springs have enjoyed one of the industry’s strongest recoveries in the nation since restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic loosened, according to data from a top hotel research firm.
Colorado Springs had the highest occupancy of the 165 U.S. cities tracked by STR for the weekend of Aug. 15, at 93%, and also the top occupancy rate for the week ending Aug. 15, at 81.8%. The city’s hotels also had the highest occupancy for the weekend ending July 11 at 82.7% and the top occupancy rate for July at 70.3%, according to STR.
Doug Price, CEO of Visit Colorado Springs, a local nonprofit tourism marketing group, said Thursday in an email that the ranking “validates that we are the strongest market in the country. Our advertising to primarily CO (Colorado) residents has proven to resonate (with travelers). People are comfortable in their personal vehicles and feel safest in the great outdoors.”
Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights, said the nation’s strongest travel markets have been Western U.S. destinations with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities and East Coast destinations with beaches.
STR has “seen healthy performance in drive-to markets” because people prefer traveling in their vehicles to boarding crowded aircraft to more distant destinations, he said.
The latest occupancy and average room rate numbers for Colorado Springs in the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report also show a recovering industry, though rates are still down from a year ago. The local occupancy rate for July of 66% shows continued improvement from the record low of 18.1% set in April during Colorado’s stay-at-home order and from 46.6% in June.
The July rate, down from last year’s 88%, was the state’s second-highest after Durango and well ahead of the statewide rate of 48.9%. The local occupancy rate for the first seven months of the year is down sharply to 44.9% from 72% a year ago. U.S. hotel occupancy was 47% in July, according to STR.
The local numbers, Price said, “are due to the strength of weekend occupancy. That has carried the industry because of all of the outdoor recreation (opportunities) in our area. I have heard the first half of August has been very good, and everyone is now waiting to see what will happen when school resumes. We are hopeful, since school openings have been delayed, that August will be as strong or stronger than July.
“When fall begins, we become more reliant on group meetings, and almost all of those have been canceled. I am concerned for our restaurants, hotels and attractions during the winter months, but am cautiously optimistic.”
The average room rate for Colorado Springs hotels in July was down 23.6% from a record $147.45 in July 2019 to $112.62; the average for the first seven months of the year is off 14.7% to $102.11. The statewide average room rate for July was down 25.1% to $132.06.
Denver area hotels have been hit the hardest, with the state’s lowest occupancy rate and biggest declines in average room rates for July.