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DENVER-For only the third time this year, Denver-area hotel occupancies eked out a slightly better performance than in the same month last year. In September, the average hotel occupancy rate was 63.4% compared with 61.6% in September 2002, according to the latest Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.

The report, by Robert S. Benton Associates, shows that only in two other months–July and March–that 2003 bested the like month a year earlier. And in March, it was virtually flat, at 56.6% compared with 56.4% in 2002.

Year-to-date, the average occupancy rate still trails 2003. The average occupancy rate is 61.9% through September, compared with 63% during the same time period in 2002. The average nightly room rate in September was $84.69, almost identical to the average rate of $84.67 booked in September 2002.

Year-to-date, the average hotel room rate is $84.39, compared with $84.96 in the first nine months of last year, according to Benton’s report.

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