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DENVER-It’s not just Denver-area hotel markets that suffered a drop in occupancy rates following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Resort areas in Colorado also saw drops in their occupancy rates during October, shows the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.

“Markets like Denver that were hit the hardest were resort areas, that, like Denver, depend upon air travel,” hotel consultant Robert S. Benton, of Denver-based Robert S. Benton Associates Inc. tells GlobeSt.com. “Some of the tertiary areas outside of Denver, where people can drive to, weren’t hit very hard or in some cases showed improvements from last year.”

The Rocky Mountain Lodge Report is compiled by Ehardt Keefe Steiner & Hoffman in cooperation with the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, Benton and W.R. Hopping & Co. The report shows hotel occupancies in Vail in October dropped to an average of 29.4%, down from 34.8% in October 2000. Aspen’s hotel occupancy rate dropped to 29.2% from 44.7%. A category titled “other resorts” fell to 28.2% from 30.7%. Many of the other resorts, such as Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, get many of their visitors from the Front Range, especially during the shoulder seasons of the fall and the spring.

The report also shows that Level I hotels in Colorado Springs–those with an average room rate of at least $75–saw average occupancy rate drop to 62.7% from 76.1%. The less expensive, or Level II hotels, saw average occupancy rates drop to 45.8% from 58.1%.

Some other smaller areas outside of any major metropolitan areas, such as Durango and Cortez, barely changed. The average occupancy rate in Durango was 50%, compared with 50.6% a year ago. And in Cortez, the average occupancy rate was 53.5%, down slightly from 57.3%. Fort Collins, north of Boulder, however, saw its hotel occupancy rate plunge to 47.9% from 63.9%. “Fort Collins, like Denver, depends a lot on business traffic,” Benton says.

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