Colorado Convention CenterDowntown Denver hotel occupancies climbed 25 percent in March 2014 compared to March 2013, thanks to a very strong convention calendar.

In March 2014, 81 percent of the hotel rooms in downtown Denver were occupied at an average rate of $170.06, up from 64.6 percent occupancy and $141.51 average room rate for March 2013.

According to Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, the large increase was due to the number of conventions meeting in Denver. “In March 2014, we had 49 groups that brought 55,246 delegates to Denver, more than double the 24,725 convention delegates that came to the city for 41 meetings in March 2013,” Scharf said. The group convention business in March 2014 used 101,856 hotel rooms, versus 39,542 rooms used by group business in March 2013, Scharf said.

The surge of conventions helped Denver achieve the largest occupancy and revenue-per-room growth in the nation for the week of March 16-22, 2014, according to the national STR report, which tracks hotel bookings. For that week, Denver hotel occupancy rose 16.1 percent, while revenue per room (RevPAR) jumped 35.7 percent. As a comparison, in year-over-year measurements, the entire U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy increased just .09 percent, while RevPAR was up just 3.5 percent for the same week.

Topping the March 2014 meetings in Denver were the American Academy of Dermatology with 17,000 attending; the Colorado Crossroads Volleyball Qualifier with 12,000 delegates; the American Physical Society with 9,500 attendees and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers with 2,400 attending.

The increase in conventions helped lift hotel occupancies throughout metro Denver, with metro occupancy reaching 76 percent with an average rate of $118.90 for March 2014, versus a metro occupancy rate of 63.5 percent with average rates of 105.05 for March 2013.

Boosted by a strong convention year, an exceptional ski season, and two home Bronco playoff games, Scharf noted that downtown Denver hotels had a good first quarter in 2014, achieving 74.4 percent occupancy compared to 64 percent for the first quarter of 2013.

Room rates in downtown Denver also saw an increase for the first quarter, jumping to $154.14 in 2014, versus $141 in first quarter 2013.

The strong downtown showing helped lift all metro Denver hotels for the first quarter with metro wide hotels showing 70 percent occupancy with an average rate of $113.58, versus the slower first quarter of 2013, which had 61.4 occupancy with an average rate of $106.16.