ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hotel prices always go up during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but this year is even more dramatic than usual: try three times the normal price. With Balloon Fiesta on the horizon, the city is bracing for the onslaught of sightseers.
“It’s not just about the Fiesta. It’s about everyone else getting in and the impact that Balloon Fiesta brings to our city, to our restaurants, to our other attractions,” says Damen Kompanowski, the president of the Greater Albuquerque Hotel and Lodging Association (GAHLA).
However, for those folks coming in to experience the 50th anniversary of the Fiesta, a quick search of hotel options might come as a shock. After comparing a handful of popular hotels around the city on different booking websites for Balloon Fiesta’s opening weekend, the numbers were staggering.
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For example, a stay in El Vado Motel on an average weekend night in November might cost around $150. For Balloon Fiesta, the price is closer to $550. At Hotel Chaco, a stay that might cost nearly $300 jumps to more than $600 for Balloon Fiesta. Tourists we spoke with say they’re used to seeing this in other cities on popular weekends.
“So I’ve been on nights where there isn’t events, and it’s cheaper than it is when you go for an event. It’ll raise about another $200, $300 in that area,” says Cameron Gomez, who is visiting from Austin, Texas.
That’s also the case at Hotel Albuquerque, Nativo Lodge, and the Hilton Garden Inn downtown, where rates will double or triple. But why so much? Kompanowski says Balloon Fiesta has historically been a time when hotels will try to maximize their profits. “But with that said, we do bring in extra staffing, the extra things that we do. And the pandemic did hit us hard, so this is a time that most of our wages industry-wide have gone up in the hospitality industry; also like, food prices and all the extra expenses that we’ve had during this time that might have increased our rates.”
It’s not just traditional hotels, either. A search through Airbnb rentals in Albuquerque also shows rates increasing during Balloon Fiesta.