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Pricier overnight stays in Heber Valley mean fewer visitors, bigger spenders

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Ben Lasseter
/
KPCW
The Homestead Resort, located in Midway, has made a recent impact on average daily rate, which the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce says impacts other local economic trends.

Heber Valley hotels are charging more for visits, which businesses say actually benefits the local economy.

As the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce analyzes trends in hotel and motel occupancy, it looks at average daily rate, or ADR. That metric shows on average how much visitor lodging costs per night.

According to chamber Executive Director Dallin Koecher, ADR in December 2021 was more than double the previous year, up to $710 compared to $350 in 2020.

If that sounds like a lot of money for a hotel room in Wasatch County, it’s because that figure includes the five-star St. Regis hotel. The St. Regis is an outlier, with rooms going for more than $2,000 a night during the winter holiday season. Koecher says without St. Regis, ADR last December would have been closer to $250.

Chamber Marketing Manager Jessica Broadhead says the big jump in ADR means that while there are fewer people visiting the area, their budgets are bigger, so they’re staying longer and pumping just as much money or more into the local economy.

“By raising the ADR, they were able to have a higher-quality type of guest who was staying longer,” she says. “They're not having to do as much turnaround on the rooms and as much work and stuff like that.”

She says one resort in particular, the Homestead in Midway, has been a major factor in that ADR surge.

Homestead’s history dates back to 1891, when the Schneitter’s Hotel and Saloon opened to house visitors to the Utah Crater hot spring and other local attractions.

Fast forward to 2022. Homestead is undergoing a renovation overhaul that started last year. General Manager Wesley Biutanaseva says within a month, the hotel will have updated over half of its 130 rooms.

He says upgraded rooms and amenities mean Homestead can double its room rates, and doesn’t have to work to bring in as many guests as possible. For example, rooms that were going for as low as $50 now cost $100 or more a night. Rates vary by date but in July some rooms were listed as costing $275 per night.

According to Broadhead, that leaves more customers for other hotels in the area that aren’t as expensive.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get our renovation done and really focusing on the corporate groups and weddings and stuff,” Biutanaseva says. “That’s what we’re really pushing right now, more groups coming in during the weekdays into the valley, and so far this year, we’re having really great success in getting the weekdays. As more new rooms come in, adding on to [those] online, that weekday group is going to be increasing a lot more.”

Both Biutanaseva and Broadhead say this year and 2021 are showing promising trends about how the area is bouncing back after the pandemic downturn.

Now, the challenges are related to inflation and supply chain woes. The renovations Homestead hoped to complete by the end of this year may take another 18 months.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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