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Niche hotels — which includes all-suite, boutique, casino, conference center, convention, destination resorts, extended stay, golf, ski, spa and water parks — are playing an increasingly important role as the U.S. hotel industry recovers from the economic downturn. STR data shows a general uptick in performance across all niche segments, led by occupancy in the boutique segment and rates in the ski resort segment. The ski resorts had the highest rates (more than $255), up 5% from this time last year.