Mt Washington Valley Businesses Weigh in with Mixed Reports for Memorial Day
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 27, 2009
CONTACT: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331
MIXED REPORTS FROM MT WASHINGTON VALLEY BUSINESSES ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Amid a challenging travel economy, there are some bright spots
North Conway, NH - While tourism is clearly challenged by a thorny economy, the bright side is that gas prices are lower this summer and travelers are staying closer to home. In an informal post-Memorial Day survey conducted by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, businesses reported that consumers are spending carefully and shopping more diligently for the best price. Overall, Memorial Day weekend in Mt Washington Valley was reasonably busy, but no records were set.
Once again the chamber of commerce heard unanimously from lodging properties that travelers are booking at the last minute, and shopping for the best packages and prices. Many lodging properties mentioned that the packages representing their best savings were the most popular throughout May. Yet Jerry Capozzoli at Colonial Motel reported an 8 percent increase in bookings over last year, and noted that bookings for the summer are about even with last year. Laura Gorman from the Tanglewood Motel & Cottages saw an increase in bookings for Memorial Day weekend over last year, claiming that larger family groups filled all but one cabin this year. Likewise, Ronald Krieger from The Seasons reported in with a 13 percent increase in bookings for Memorial Day weekend over last year, commenting that many bookings came in at last minute. Both Mary Ann Mayer at the Mt Washington B&B in Shelburne and Jessica Zarenko co-owner of the Cabernet Inn said that bookings were even with last year. "Out of eleven couples eight booked one of our package deals including dinner and a discounted rate," said Zarenko. "We truly believe that people are looking for the most they can get for their money; not necessarily spending less but spending wiser," finished Zarenko. Arthur de la Torre, Eastman Inn owner, concurred saying that bookings were even with last year. He saw a mix of Canadians and New Englanders coming to shop, play golf and hike this weekend. Linda Jones at Gilman Tavern Inn in Tamworth felt that less people vacationing in the Valley contributed to lower bookings this Memorial Day.
A number of retailers weighed in with mixed reports. Ken Close at Little Shop in the Woods in Reporter Court attributed an increase in business this year over last to his new location in North Conway Village and a sidewalk sale. Close observed, "Compared with 2008, there were more families, less Canadians, more visitors from the Mid-Atlantic and nearby Midwest states, and a lower average sale. Yet with an increase in customers, the overall outcome was positive compared to last year." While Rob Nadler at Ragged Mountain Equipment felt there were plenty of customers shopping, the store had a slight decrease in business, as shoppers were careful with spending. Judy Thornton, owner of Studio 95 Craft & Hobby, felt that last year was busier than this year, and despite a sidewalk sale most purchases came from inside the store. Tim Psaledakis, owner of Jewelry by Timothy W. Psaledakis & Friends, commented that while foot traffic was low over the weekend, May has been his best month since December when the store opened. He's observed an increase in spending from both residents and tourists to Mt Washington Valley over the last six weeks, signaling a ray of hope for retailers.
A few of the attractions responded to the survey, mentioning that it was a strong Memorial Day opening mostly due to good weather bringing in tourists. Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing for the Wildcat ZipRider and Scenic Gondola Rides, was very positive about the opening weekend. He noted a 25 percent increase over last year on visitor counts for the ZipRider for Sunday. "At this time last summer, we were still operating only two cable lines," said Prindle. "Some of the marked increase for the ZipRider numbers this season is attributable to the expansion from two to four cable lines," commented Prindle. For Monkey Trunks, the new Zipline and High Adventure Park in Chocorua, opening weekend came early this year. While they were not open last Memorial Day weekend, Hazel reported that the weekend exceeded their expectation for customers.
Unfortunately, the trend toward spending less on dining continued through Memorial Day for Mt Washington Valley restaurateurs. Both Rafferty's and J-Town Deli reported sales did not compare to last year, although traffic was steady. Crepes Ooh La La, a new restaurant in town, felt the weekend was on par with their expectations. Restaurateurs did say they remained positive for the summer.
With gas prices far lower than the record $4.50 per gallon last summer, businesses throughout Mt Washington Valley are trying to remain optimistic. Lodging properties agree that last-minute bookings, driven by weather forecasts, will continue, yet properties like the Royalty Inn in Gorham feel that business will remain on par with last summer. Cautious spending and bargain hunting is also expected to continue throughout the summer, according to many who responded to the survey and national trends predictions.
For more information on vacationing in Mt Washington Valley and a complete trip planning guide, visit http://www.mtwashingtonvalley.org/ or call 108-00-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364).
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