ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Balloon Fiesta begins in just three weeks, and that means hundreds of thousands of people from out of town descending on the city. If hotel reservations are any indication, this year’s event will be as big as any other with an estimated 800,000 spectators over 9 days.
“Early indications are that everything looks very, very strong for this year’s Balloon Fiesta,” said Tania Armenta with the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Both weekends of Balloon Fiesta are completely booked at places like the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town, and the Hyatt Regency and Hotel Andaluz downtown, to name a few.
“Our numbers are surpassing last year. We’re exceeding our statistics from the past and we’re very excited,” said Hotel Andaluz manager John O’Hara.
O’Hara says weekend rooms were booked up by July. The rooms went for around $280 a night, three times what you’d pay for a weekend in November.
“We actually take advantage of the fact that it’s Balloon Fiesta and, needless to say, we maximize our rates and do everything we possibly can,” she said.
A doubling or tripling of prices across the city is common. The Sheraton Uptown has some rooms left for the second weekend of Balloon Fiesta but guests can expect to pay $249, compared to $87 in November.
Even budget chains become less budget-friendly during Balloon Fiesta. The Travelodge on University has rooms for $76.50 which is double their normal rate.
Armenta says even without big hotel discounts, they’re still good deals.
“Price is driven by demand, and no doubt there’s more demand during Balloon Fiesta but the prices are very reasonable,” Armenta said. “Albuquerque’s known as one of the most affordable, top-rated visitor destinations in the country.”
When it comes to Balloon Fiesta, “sold out” doesn’t always mean there aren’t rooms available.
The official Balloon Fiesta site lists several hotels that say “sold out” for their special rates.
But News 13 checked, and several of those hotels still have rooms, if only a few. Other hotels said they are taking wait lists in case there are any cancellations.