Colorado Springs hotels had a banner year in 2018 with occupancy at a 21-year high and the average room rate hitting a record, according to the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.
The occupancy rate in local hotels last year rose to 71.1 percent from 69.4 percent in both 2016 and 2017; it was the highest annual rate since 71.7 percent in 1997. Occupancy was up from a year earlier in nine of 12 months, including a 90.7 percent rate in June, when the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament helped local hotels post their second-best month in 22 years. The industry ended the year on an up note with occupancy increasing to 50.1 percent in December from 48.3 percent a year earlier.
“The big difference between last year and 2017 was the Senior Open, which allowed hotels in the area to increase both occupancy and average rate even though it happened during a busy time of the year,” said Doug Price, CEO of Visit Colorado Springs. He also credited the gains to “increased air (service) access, which helps both leisure and business travel. It really put us on the map.”
The average room rate for 2018 rose 3.7 percent to a record $118.76. The increase at full-service hotels, which include restaurants, meeting space for large groups and other amenities, was more than twice that of limited-service properties. The average room rate for December edged up 2.4 percent from December 2017 to $95.03.
Price said he expects the occupancy rate to rise more slowly next year, with 20 hotels totaling more than 2,200 rooms opening or in the planning stages during the next several months. He expects the industry to get a big boost next year, when the now-under-construction Olympic Museum opens and begins attracting visitors to the Springs.
Colorado Springs was one of the few bright spots in the state last year as far as hotel occupancy, with occupancy declining in the Denver area and statewide as a result of a burst of new hotel openings. The occupancy rate for Colorado hotels fell to 69.2 percent in 2018 from 69.6 percent in 2017.
Occupancy in Denver area hotels, which make up 60 percent of the statewide total, fell to 73.7 percent in 2018 from 74.9 percent in 2017.
The state’s average room rate rose just 1 percent last year to $157.51 with Denver rates increasing 0.3 percent. The average rate fell in both November and December, halting five consecutive months of gains.
The Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Resort are not included in the Colorado Springs totals, but are part of the “other resorts” category that includes many of the state’s ski areas.
The occupancy rate for that category fell in 2018 to 54.2 percent from 55.2 percent in 2017, while the average room rate jumped 5.3 percent to $288.84.