Despite pandemic precautions, interstate shutdowns and the closure of the Hanging Lake Trail, Glenwood Springs’ lodging and tourism industry ended 2021 strong, said Lisa Langer, tourism director of Visit Glenwood Springs.
“We’re seeing a huge increase in our occupancy year over year,” Langer said. “In 2021 we even outperformed our competitive markets.”
Glenwood Springs had a 70% higher occupancy rate than any other city or municipality in the state for all of 2021, according to a Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association (CHLA) report released in January — despite a $30 average daily rate (ADR) increase in Glenwood Springs accommodation.
“It means we’re doing something right and seeing high demand when we can see our ADR going up without a drop in occupancy,” Langer said.
Data collection for the CHLA report is voluntary, so it serves as a snapshot of the state’s tourism and lodging sector rather than an accurate measure, she explained. Most importantly, Langer said, the data confirms that the territory’s new marketing strategies are working.
“We market outside of Glenwood Springs to attract people, usually from the front range,” she said. “Our marketing efforts are focused on the off-season – winter, spring and fall. But during the rockfalls we shifted our marketing west.”
After Interstate 70 was closed for weeks in August, Langer said Visit Glenwood has begun targeting Grand Junction and Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We’ve entered markets that we haven’t focused on in the past and I think it’s produced some great results,” she said.
Additionally, in January, Visit Glenwood published its first blog with Spanish translation, and Langer said the organization hired a bilingual translator to start work on its website.
“We have also provided marketing funds for Spanish translated markets,” she added. “We record what we do with marketing and we see that it is successful. So we continue these efforts while looking for new ways.”
Outside the snow dumps towards the end of December, snow days on the west slope were lackluster at best. Though that’s detrimental to the region’s bustling ski community, Langer said, Glenwood Springs can weather a warm, dry winter.
“We have a destination that people want to visit regardless of whether the snow season is good or bad,” she said. “Our community has a good balance of attractions that aren’t dependent on the weather.”
With a decade of tourism in Glenwood Springs now under her stewardship, Langer said she is proud to have played a role in some of the region’s tourism milestones.
“Over the past decade, we’ve helped the city and the US Forest Service with Hanging Lake, built and expanded Iron Mountain, and rounded out the experience at Glenwood Caverns,” she said. “I also saw so much when creating the mountain bike and hiking trails. It’s amazing work and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Looking ahead, Visit Glenwood plans to emphasize the sustainability of the region’s natural resources and work towards strengthening the off-season to spread tourism throughout the year.
“The launch of the Rocky Mountaineer was a huge success,” said Langer. “We are actively working on a plan for passengers to stay two nights in Glenwood Springs this year, something the Mountaineer is not doing anywhere else.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or email [email protected]