December was a slow month for Carson's innkeepers

Room occupancies at Carson City's hotels and motels in December 1999 were about 25 percent lower than a year earlier, apparently a reflection of people's decisions to stay home in the face of potential Year 2000 problems.

"This happened all over - it wasn't just a Nevada thing," Candy Duncan, executive director of the Carson City Convention and Visitors' Bureau, said Friday.

She said local occupancy rates were the worst in three years.

December is typically a slow month for hotels and motels, she said, with the bulk of room rentals coming around New Year's Eve. So a slow holiday has a big impact on the occupancy statistics for December, Duncan said.

Duncan said the occupancy rate for the bureau's selected group - 14 properties that consistently report occupancy information and have less than 20 percent of rooms occupied by monthly rentals - was 32 percent in December compared to 44 percent a year earlier. The occupancy rate for the selected group peaked at 72 percent in July 1999, she said.

The occupancy rate for all reporting hotels and motels in December 1999 was 29 percent, Duncan said, compared with 38 percent a year earlier and 62 percent in July 1999.

Carson's rentable rooms reach 100 percent occupancy during summer weekends, Duncan said, but rarely during the week even in the summer.

She said the community's newest hotel rooms, at the Pinon Plaza on Highway 50 East and the Plaza Hotel on South Carson Street, were included in the December figures for both 1999 and 1998.

The Pinon Plaza is adding 86 hotel rooms, expected to be available this May, Duncan said.

The Associated Press reported that Washoe County hotels and motels ended the old century with a month that saw room occupancy slip 2.6 percent below the previous December for the first drop in six months.

Brian Rivers, Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority accounting manager, told the Associated Press that many of the rooms would have been free anyway because hotel-casinos recorded 21 percent fewer complimentary room nights than they did in December 1998.

''The millennium madness didn't really take off as everyone had planned,'' he said.

Along with fewer occupied rooms, the average rate guests paid in Washoe County was flat with December 1998, which brought the visitors authority's taxable revenues in 1.7 percent below 1998's.


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