DENVER-Hotels across from the former Stapleton International Airport are taking off. In the first half of the year, the occupancy rate rose to 71.7% from 60.4% during the same period in 1999, almost a 19% jump, according to Denver-based Horwath Hospitality Consulting/Montgomery & Associates.

The hotels, located about a 10-minute drive east of the CBD, have lost much of the former airport business to the Denver International Airport, the $6-billion facilitythat opened almost five years ago 18 miles to the east.

John Montgomery, president of Horwath Hospitality, says the hotels have prospered by handling the overflow from the Downtown hotels. Their average room rates at $54.45 per night, are far lower than Downtown rates, which averaged $114 per night, he says.

Room rates are expected to rise as soon as Cleveland-based Forest City begins to sell land for office developments at Stapleton, which is the largest urban infill development in the country, he says.

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