Hotel rooms scarce for Winter Games

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Salt Lake City (AP) -- As Jerry Healey has found out, it's a little late to look for hotel rooms for the Winter Games in February.

The Denver resident has been trying for weeks to find accommodations in any Wasatch Front hotel.

``The Salt Lake committee keeps saying there are all these rooms available,'' Healey said. ``I'd like to know where they are.''

They are in Wendover, on the Nevada border 113 miles west of Salt Lake City, and in some other places outside the Salt Lake metropolitan area,

However, lodging within the metropolitan area mostly is in private homes and condominiums.

Healey has arranged to rent two one-bedroom units from a Salt Lake City owner for $550 per night.

``I just sent a check to someone I don't know to make sure we will have some place to stay. And I don't even know what it's going to be like,'' he said.

SLOC has about 20,000 hotel rooms within two hours of Salt Lake City under contract to be filled by journalists and Olympic sponsors and officials. Those rooms represent about 60 percent of available rooms.

Of the remaining rooms, some have been set aside only for guests willing to stay a certain number of nights or for those buying Olympic packages that include lodging. In other cases, the rooms are being held by hotels that will release them at some point before the Olympics, most likely at higher prices.

To help supplement the city's supply of hotel rooms, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, through Coldwell Banker Premier, is marketing private homes and condominiums as rentals during the Olympics.

Private residences cost from $150 to more than $3,000 per night. Condominiums run $200 to about $550 per night. Coldwell Banker takes 40 percent of the proceeds; home owners receive the rest.

Meanwhile, some Olympic visitors are booking hotel rooms a good distance from the venues.

A Mount Pleasant bed and breakfast owner said Sanpete County-area inns and hotels are getting bookings.

``I didn't have a clue that people would want to stay here during the games,'' said Sally East, owner of Larsen House Bed & Breakfast. ``I tell people who call or e-mail that we are 100 miles away from Salt Lake City but they don't care. They just want to know if there is a good road to the sites and if it is open year-round.''