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DENVER-After a flat first quarter, hotel occupancy and room rates in the Denver area nose-dived in April, according to the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report. The report, authored by Robert Benton of Robert Benton & Associates, notes that the average room rate was 52.8% in April, compared with 63.1% in April 2002. That marks the worst April since 1989, Benton says.

“It was just awful,” Benton tells GlobeSt.com. “I noticed nationally, during the month of April, preliminary numbers show hotels were down 7% to 9%. Denver was down more than the average.”

It was far more than the average, in fact. Occupancy rates fell by 16.3% in the Denver area in April from April 2002. “It seems like in April there were a lot of concerns about the war,” Benton tells GlobeSt.com. “People were a little bit anxious. It was like the economy was just coming to a halt.”

Room rates also were down. The average room rate in April was $82.99, compared with $88.83 a year earlier. Year-to-date, the average occupancy rate is 53.6%, compared with 56.4% in the first four months of 2002. The average room rate in the first four months was $82.66, compared with $83.31 in 2002. However, Benton expects summer travel to be much stronger and the worst may be over.

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