Columbus Day 2012 Business Wrap Up from Mt Washington Valley
NEWS FROM MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH – 10-9-12
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MT WASHINGTON VALLEY BUSINESSES REPORT STRONG COLUMBUS DAY & FOLIAGE SEASON
Gorgeous foliage, fairs and festivals, and mixed weather welcome visitors to Mt Washington Valley for Columbus Day weekend
North Conway, NH (10-9-12)– Businesses throughout Mt Washington Valley reported a strong 2012 fall foliage season in an informal survey from the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. While the weather didn’t entirely cooperate over Columbus Day weekend, Mother Nature came through with brilliant foliage welcoming leaf peepers from throughout the world. Generally, businesses reported strong sales throughout the week prior to Columbus Day weekend, with an increase in visitors from Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan. When Mt Washington Valley business owners look back on last year as the Valley was still cleaning up from the effects of Tropical Storm Irene, Columbus Day 2012 is the model holiday weekend in comparison, according to many business owners responding to the survey.
The week prior to Columbus Day is among the busiest of the year for Mt Washington Valley as the Fryeburg Fair draws crowds and peak foliage attracts leaf peepers from around the world. Mixed weather impacted fair goers this year, but Fair vendors commented that record sales marked the sunny days which made up for lower sales on rainy days.
Attractions weighed in on the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce’s survey with mixed reviews. Some attractions open only for Columbus Day weekend felt that rain impacted traffic. Yet Cranmore Mountain Resort reported a modest increase in sales and Karen Tolin, of Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel told the chamber “This Columbus Day weekend knocked the socks off of last year! Even with passing showers, our numbers of Rolling Dogsled Rides were up 35-percent from last season”. Additionally, Jonathan Rivers of Indian Mound Golf Club shared they had a great Columbus Day weekend saying “other than some rain, we were as busy as last year, and food and beverage sales were up over last year”.
Lodging properties weighed in commenting that near or at-full occupancy was the norm for the Fryeburg Fair week and Columbus Day weekend. Ken Lydecker, co-owner of the Riverside Inn in Intervale, shared “Overall for the season, we're up about 10-percent in rooms rented over last year, (noting not as many hurricanes this year). We were full from Sept 28 to October 14th.” Mary Ann Meyer of the Mount Washington B&B in Shelburne shared that last minute reservations came in strong for Columbus Day weekend and bookings were up about 15-percent for the second half of September. Tom Spaulding, GM at the Hampton Inn and Suites reported a slight increase in occupancy for the Columbus Day weekend which put occupancy at near-full, noting that they welcomed more Canadians this year. Steve Lambert, GM at Red Jacket Mountain View and Fox Ridge Resorts concurred, reporting a 20-percent increase in business over last year for the Columbus Day Weekend. He observed an increase in Japanese and U.K. visitors this year.
When they weren’t outside leaf-peeping, visitors were shopping according to what was reported to the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Many of the retailers in North Conway Village attributed an increase in sales to an increase in motorcoach and foot traffic this year. Timothy Psaledakis of Jewelry by Tim and Friends was sure strong sales from the weekend could be attributed to more foot traffic from motorcoach tours. Deborah Jasien, owner and crafter at the Fields of Ambrosia in North Conway Village shared “Our sales for Friday, Saturday & Sunday doubled from last year. We welcomed many returning customers from prior years who spent heavily and a lot of new customers from motorcoach traffic.” Deb also shared that she felt people are finally spending more on themselves this year instead of small tokens for friends and family; a sign of a strengthening economy. Linda Schuepp of The Penguin Gallery felt the North Conway Village’s Pink Week in conjunction with the Making Strides for Breast Cancer program helped to draw visitors to the village. “From Friday through Monday our sales were up a whopping 59-percent,” commented Schuepp. “Our Friday sales were up 135-percent from the previous year,” she finished. Matt Fusco, owner of the Rugged Mill reported a 17-percent increase in sales over 2011 attributing the increase to more traffic from motorcoach tours and international visitors. Fusco summed up the sentiment expressed by many when he commented “I believe the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last year changed the travel plans of many would-be visitors and lasted all the way through October which had a greater negative impact on our business than I even realized. This year we are seeing the results of what could have and should have been last year if we had a typical fall foliage season.”
Outside North Conway Village, Lynne MacDonald of Lone Star Jewelers in Conway, concurred reporting an increase in sales over last year. While new to the retail scene, Ivy Jordan of Water’s Edge in Fryeburg, Maine reported that sales far exceeded her expectations noting many customers from Southern New England and Canada visited her artist gallery and store.
The chamber heard from Corrine Rober at Margarita Grill that Columbus Day Weekend was a record breaker for the restaurant. “We were up 18-percent over last year,” said Rober. “The foliage season has been tremendous for us. Food sales were up 35-percent over last year for the month of September,” said Rober. She attributes the increases that the restaurant has maintained all summer to the restaurant’s new initiatives in Farm-to-Table cuisine.
While fall colors are at peak in the Northern reaches of the Valley, spectacular color is still yet to come throughout October in the Southern parts of Mt Washington Valley. There’s still plenty of time for leaf peeping getaways in Mt Washington Valley. The Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce is keeping an up-to-date eye on lodging availability, and recommends booking a reservation prior to coming to the Valley. For more information on fall getaways, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364) for lodging availability. For further information about New Hampshire, visit the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism website at www.visitnh.gov.
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