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DENVER-For only the fourth time this year, metro-area hotel occupancy rates bested the same month in 2002. The latest Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, prepared by Robert S. Benton & Associates Inc., shows that the overall occupancy rate in October was 61.8%, compared with 59.9% in October 2002.

October also marks the first time this year that the market had improved over the same month last year for two consecutive months. In September, the hotel occupancy rate was 63.4% compared with 61.6% in September 2002. The drop in October from September was expected for seasonal reasons.

Year-to-date, the average room rate was 61.9%, trailing slightly the 62.7% occupancy rate for the first 10 months of 2002. Meanwhile, the average room rate in October was $89.41, the highest average monthly room rate for the entire year. October was the sixth time this year that the average room rate was higher than the same month in 2002. The average room rate in October 2002 was $86.48.

Despite the strong performance in October, the average room rate in the first 10 months still slightly lags the first 10 months of 2002. The year-to-date average room rate is $84.88, compared with $85.11 in through October 2002.

The 157,017 room nights Downtown, by far, performed the best in October, boasting an occupancy rate of 75.4%. It also had the highest average room rate at $133.80.Hotels near Denver International Airport, a market with 56,487 room nights, were in second place with an average room rate of 67.1%.

However, the Boulder submarket, with 51,274 rooms, fared better as far as average room rate at $100.79. Boulder trailed the DIA market, however, in terms of occupancy rate with a 64.4% occupancy rate.

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