Christmas Week - NY 2011-12 wrap up
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 2, 2012
CONTACT: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, email@example.com
CHRISTMAS WEEK TOUGH FOR MT WASHINGTON VALLEY BUSINESSES
Reports from Valley businesses were mixed with restaurants coming out on top
North Conway, NH – Answers to the annual post-Christmas week survey conducted by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce were mixed this Christmas Week. With a lower-than-usual snowfall coming into the Christmas/New Year’s week, tourism businesses approached the week with concern. While ski resorts pulled out all the guns and offered not only expanded terrain but non-skiing alternatives, the week was difficult for all businesses dependent on natural snowfall. Based upon feedback from businesses responding to the survey, overall revenues were off for some but not all businesses, yet most remain optimistic that winter sales will improve especially as cold temps allow snowmaking and natural snowfall in the coming weeks. One thing that was clear, those visiting the Valley over Christmas/New Year’s vacation week made the best of the quality offerings from all tourism based businesses.
Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce was optimistic about the week’s results saying “Mother Nature was not as kind with snow fall as she could have been this holiday season but that did not dampen the spirit of those who strive to provide a wonderful experience for our guests and our guests who found other ways to entertain themselves”. “Dog sled and sleigh rides on wheels instead of traditional sleds, indoor ice skating, snowmaking, discovering historic sites, new restaurants, exchanging gifts and finding something new, catching a great movie, whizzing on a zipline or a mountain coaster rail were all ways that visitors enjoyed themselves in the Valley this holiday week,” finished Crawford.
Restaurants were the hot spots, according to reports by Mt Washington Valley businesses. Jonathan Rivers, of Indian Mound Golf Club and River's Edge Grille & Tavern was enthusiastic about the week. “We had a great Christmas week, in fact the best ever and New Years was up over last year,” said Rivers who attributes his success to social marketing, newspaper advertising and a great local clientele. Terry O’Brien of Red Parka Steakhouse and Pub shared her impressions saying they had a great vacation week which was on par with last year. “January 1st was a huge night for us, and a bit unexpected since all of our kids went back to school today,” said O’Brien. Linda Rafferty of Rafferty’s Restaurant & Pub concurred saying Christmas week was on par with last year and New Year’s Eve was sold out.
While no records for skier visits were broken this year, the ski resorts chimed in with enthusiasm and pride in the quality of the terrain available despite incredible weather challenges. Dan Houde, Marketing Director at King Pine and Purity Spring Resort, shared “Although our numbers were down from past seasons, guests who were at King Pine from Christmas through New Year's raved about the snow coverage and conditions, were pleasantly surprised that the majority of our trails were open and we had wall to wall snow from top to bottom”. Houde added, “New Year's Eve at King Pine and Purity Spring Resort were near capacity and although we weren't able to offer ice skating and sleigh rides, there were plenty of on-snow activities to keep people happy. With our new electric-powered snowmaking system added this year plus new fan and tower guns, we're looking to be 100% open this weekend!”
John Lowell, General Manager Attitash Mountain Resort responded to the survey saying ““There was a genuine excitement from our guests and I believe we exceeded their expectations. We had two peaks open from top to bottom and a good variety of terrain. While our numbers were down slightly from last year, we are very optimistic about the remaining season. Snowmaking resumes today and we expect to open up more terrain by midweek”. Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing at Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain followed up saying “With a surge in visits from Tuesday to Sunday, New Year’s Day, Attitash’s total skier visits gained ground to keep our numbers decent, though down, as compared to the vacation week last season”.
“The positive thing that I noticed was that guests were very understanding that the weather has been a challenge and we are all doing the best we can,” said Josh Boyd, General Manager of Wildcat Mountain.
Ben Wilcox, General Manager of Cranmore Mountain Resort piped in saying “Our snowmakers helped us get trail counts up so that we could still have a decent Christmas Vacation Week. The exciting news was seeing growth over last year’s Christmas Week in our non-ski attractions – Tubing, Coaster, Swing and Indoor Adventure Center”. Kathy Bennett, Cranmore Marketing Director followed up saying for the period from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1, Cranmore exceeded their expectations given the challenges with the weather, posting a 6-percent increase in revenue over last year for the Mountain Adventure Park (tubing, mountain coaster and swing).
The weather challenges were greater for Nordic centers and snowmobile outfitters dependent upon natural snowfall. Thom Perkins, Executive Director of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation told the chamber the XC Center had an off week compared to expectations, yet they were up in revenues compared to last year. Peter Gagne of Northern Extremes Snowmobiling reported a disappointing vacation week. “This was the first time in 13 years we were 100 percent closed for Christmas week with no options to ride,” said Gagne who said the business went into the week with strong advance reservations.
Lodging members reported mixed results from the week. While Daisy Stephenson of the Eagle Mountain House Hotel shared that the week was down due in part to weather and lack of snow on cross country trails, Gary Plourde of the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa in Jackson, NH reported the business was up 18 percent over 2010 for Christmas Week and up 38 percent for the month of December compared to 2010. Plourde credited a strong reputation and an improved economy contributing to their success. Likewise, Sue LeFave at the Old Red Inn & Cottages reported nearly a 20 percent increase for the vacation week 2011 compared to 2010, citing more vacationing families as the reason for the increase this year. However, a number of other lodging properties asking to remain anonymous told the chamber that the holiday week was off compared to last year.
According to Dot Seybold at Settlers’ Green Outlet Village, “The week was not disastrous for either shopping centers or restaurants. Our stores had good sales mid-week, all the gift certificates and gift cards came rolling in,” said Seybold. “We had such a good early December I am confident we will end the year ahead of last year,” Seybold finished.
By all accounts, those visiting the Valley appeared to be unphased by a lack of snow. “No one seemed to be unhappy with the lack of snow,” said Terry O’Brien. “God bless the snowmakers! We heard great things about the ski conditions, tubing opportunities, shopping and all of the other fun stuff we have to offer”. Linda Rafferty echoed O’Brien’s comments saying “We welcomed lots of families and people in general just enjoying being in the village to eat, shop and enjoy the milder weather for walking around”.
Ski resorts and XC Centers remain optimistic that continued cold temperatures, snow and snowmaking will allow additional terrain to open throughout January, and winter has made its way to Mt Washington Valley in full force with a busy calendar of events, races and great on and off the slope fun.
For more information on visiting Mt Washington Valley and complete online vacation planning resources, go to www.mtwashingtonvalley.org. To talk to a vacation planning concierge during business hours, call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (899-367-3364). For further information about New Hampshire, visit the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism website at www.visitnh.gov.
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