Christmas vacation up for some and not for others
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 6, 2009
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CHRISTMAS VACATION WEEK AND NEW YEARS EVE HOLIDAY UP FOR SOME NOT FOR OTHERS IN MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH
Zero to sixty with 100 mph winds atop Mount Washington created challenging conditions for ski resorts. Lodging, restaurants and ski resorts weighed in with mixed results for the holidays, 2008.
North Conway, NH (1/6/09) - An informal survey of Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce members offered mixed results, with a number of those reporting posting increases and many businesses expressing satisfaction with "flat" numbers compared with 2008 in this softer economy. Weather temps going from zero to sixty in a few short days, topped off with 100 mph winds made for challenging conditions for Mt Washington Valley ski resorts, yet many resorts still reported increases in skier visits. With Christmas and New Year's falling on a Thursday, the holiday week was extended to ten days, giving an additional boost for those measuring results against last year. Given a perception that people will not be spending on travel this year, the sentiment among Mt Washington Valley businesses was quite positive.
Lori Pecor of Black Mountain reported that ticket sales were up 22 percent over 2007. She speculated the increase was attributed to their Passport ticket pricing. Thom Perkins reported that skier visits were up ten percent over the holiday week last year, and annual memberships are up 11.7% over the 2007-08 ski season. Kathy Bennett, Director of Marketing at Cranmore Resort weighed in saying "It's been a great holiday period so far - our new Crantastic New Year's Event was a sell out. We met our business goals for the week and continue to see strong sales in value products such as our season passes." Ben Wilcox, GM at Cranmore, added that warmer weather and post New Year's business made January 2 Cranmore's busiest day of the week and season to date. He added that "People also commented that they were taking shorter trips this year". Additionally, Cranmore's Fun Zone attracted more than one thousand people for the week, according to Wilcox. Irene Donnell at the Mount Washington Resort was equally positive about not only ticket sales but lodging and dining sales for the holiday period. Irene shared this insight, "For the ten day holiday period our skier counts and ski revenues were up eight to ten percent over last year. Hotel, Lodge and Condominium occupancy also was up slightly over 2007." Additionally, Irene noted, "Typically the first weekend in January is slow but the impact of a Thursday New Year caused it to be more like a good February weekend." The new Bretton Woods canopy tour helped to attract new visitors to the mountain too. Wind and challenging weather conditions made the week particularly tough on Wildcat. Thomas Prindle reported that compared to last year's milder holiday period, their numbers fell slightly short for the holiday week. Additionally, Terry at Fryeburg Snowmobile Rentals reported the economy has affected snowmobile sales and rentals, thus numbers fell short of last year.
Jerry Jacobson, General Manager of the Eagle Mountain House reported that occupancy was on par with last year's holiday period. While the resort saw fewer travelers from Massachusetts, they did welcome more travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey this year. Many of the smaller properties and B&Bs in Mt Washington Valley felt the pinch of the economy, reporting bookings were off from prior years. However, Ken Lydecker at the Riverside Inn said he was happy with the holiday season. In his first year of operation, he has no comparison numbers, but was happy with two sold out weekends during the holiday week. Likewise, the chamber heard from the Royalty Inn that bookings were ahead of last year's holiday week, mainly due to holiday travelers and a local hockey tournament. Christopher Diego at the Mountain View Grand reported that bookings were up 10 percent for the holiday week, and although they were sold out for New Year's Eve in both 2007 and 2008, revenues were up 22 percent over last year for the New Year's Eve weekend. He's optimistic for the rest of the winter too, sharing "We have already booked more room nights in January than the resort has ever achieved for that month. The booking pace for February is ahead of last year too." The chamber hopes this bodes well for the entire Valley.
Jonathan and Natalie Spak at the Oxford House Inn in Fryeburg commented that the holiday week was busier than last year, and bucking the tide, found that people were spending more on dining. They reported a 25 percent increase in food revenues on New Year's Eve. Tom at Café Noche told the chamber "This years holiday week was much stronger than last year, due to better weather, no patriots football game and people celebrating a new administration of hope about to take stage in Washington".
The chamber learned that The Framed Art Store ended the quarter slightly ahead of 2007 for October, November, and December, mostly due to a new location and increased marketing efforts, according to owners. The Soy Candle store sales were off against last year, but not as much as forecasted.
All in all, those reporting to the informal Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce survey were cautiously optimistic. While a slowing economy is a concern for those in the Valley dependent on strong tourism, many businesses speculate that lowered gas prices and continued demand for travel to one-tank destinations will continue to drive travelers to the Mt Washington Valley throughout the winter.
For more information on planning Mt Washington Valley winter getaways and recreation, visit http://null/ or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364).
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