Mt Washington Valley businesses post a record breaking Labor Day and strong summer, 2016
News from Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce – September 6, 2016
Contact: Marti Mayne, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org, 207-846-6331
ROBUST LABOR DAY WEEKEND PUTS THE CROWNING TOUCH ON A STRONG SUMMER SEASON FOR MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH BUSINESSES
Warm, sunny weather and an increase in European travelers cited as contributors to a strong summer season and Labor Day holiday weekend
North Conway, NH - Mt Washington Valley, NH businesses reported a strong summer season, with record breaking attendance at some attractions and increases in occupancy over last year for many lodging properties responding to an informal survey of Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce members. The warm, dry weather experienced over the summer, coupled with a desire to vacation in the mountains after last winter’s lack of snow kept people home, were some of the reasons cited by businesses for the increases in business this summer. All those responding to the Chamber’s survey also posted a strong end of the summer Labor Day weekend, with a few reporting record-breaking holiday weekends. Businesses reported that Canadian traffic is still way behind previous years due to the value of the Canadian dollar, but an increasing number of European visitors were reported by a number of the chamber members responding to the survey.
“Throughout the summer, we could tell by traffic patterns and filled parking lots that Mt Washington Valley businesses were having a strong summer,” observed Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The warm, dry summer weather drove visitors to our outdoor attractions and recreation, campgrounds and golf courses for time in the mountains, which of course added to success for our lodging, dining and retail businesses too” finished Crawford.
According to lodging properties reporting advance reservations well ahead of last year at this time, the Mt Washington Valley Chamber expects the strong summer season to extend into fall. “With North Conway recently appearing on Travel + Leisure Magazine’s Top 15 Mountain Towns list and beautiful shots of Mt Washington Valley’s notches, bike rides and rock climbing included in National Geographic along with other magazines, Mt Washington Valley is increasingly receiving top media accolades putting it on the top of visitors’ radar for a top fall adventure destination,” added Crawford.
When asked about Labor Day weekend and summer season, Steve Lambert at the Bernerhof Inn B&B in Glen, NH was all smiles when he reported that the 2016 Labor Day week was the busiest week of the year so far for the inn. The Bernerhof Inn was sold-out for eight days in a row the week before Labor Day weekend. Lambert explained, “We found that a lot of Rhode Island and Boston travelers did not come up the first half year and wanted to ‘cash in on summer’ travels before the foliage crowds came in.” Looking ahead to fall foliage, the Bernerhof Inn is already sold out for three key weeks of foliage season, with guests from the Midwest and Canadian Rockies booking all the way into the end of October according to Lambert.
Christopher Bellis and Eddie Bennett, co-owners of the Cranmore Inn Bed and Breakfast in North Conway reported that Labor Day weekend was a sell-out both last year and this year, however revenues were up 17-percent over the prior year due to an increase in rates implemented at the end of last summer. Bellis explained that interest in the Valley, coupled with a desire to stay at inns and B&Bs, helped to contribute to a strong year. When asked about fall foliage season, Bellis responded, “We expect our fall season will be busier this year than last year. As of today we already have as many bookings for September as we did last year at the end of September. October reservations are also higher and between the two months current reservations are 27-percent ahead of last year at the same time.”
Charlene Brown, co-owner of the Farm by the River B&B with Stables, reported that year to date the inn’s bookings are up, crediting the chamber’s spring adventure campaign, the weather and a desire among travelers to avoid overseas travel due to safety reasons. Brown also mentioned that Labor Day bookings were up over last year too for the inn.
Carrie Steeves, Front Office Manager of the Snowvillage Inn, chimed in reporting a 33-percent increase in bookings for room bookings over last year’s Labor Day weekend. Steeves speculates this was due to visitors looking to stay on “the road less traveled” and an increase in Internet marketing.
Carol Sullivan, Director of Sales and Marketing at White Mountain Hotel and Resort in North Conway, reported the hotel experienced a 6-percent increase in revenue, 1-percent increase in Rooms, and a two-percent increase in guests for the summer. Sullivan cited great weather, a strong economy and low gas prices as contributors to the strong summer, plus strong travel trends toward European visitors to the Valley. The hotel was sold out for all three days of Labor Day weekend, just as it was last year. Sullivan shared the sentiment that business will be brisk this autumn, driven as always by foliage color and weather.
Bud Selmi, owner of Margarita Grill in Glen reported that Labor Day was even for two out of three days of the holiday weekend. Sunny weather keeps diners outside playing, and Sunday of the holiday weekend was down slightly due to people playing outdoors rather than eating inside, according to Salmi. Yet, overall Margarita Grill was up over last year in revenues for the summer. And while Salmi commented that Canadian business has not returned to the levels we experienced in the Valley in 2014, the restaurant welcomed more Europeans this summer than in past years.
Christopher Bellis, co-owner of Chef’s Bistro, noted that summer sales were slightly up over last year, as the restaurant continues to find its niche in North Conway village.
Genn Anzaldi, co-owner of J-Town Deli in Jackson reported that Labor Day sales were up over last year by nearly 50-percent. She also reported that summer sales were well up over last year too, suggesting that great weather, good staff and a strong social marketing campaign helped to boost revenues and visits this year.
Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt Washington Auto Road responded to the chamber’s survey explaining that Labor Day weekend was up 2-percent over last year, which was a record year for the Auto Road, making 2016 Labor Day once again a record-setting holiday weekend. Additionally, the Auto Road posted a 9-percent increase in business over last year for summer season (July 4 through Labor Day). Spending was up over last year in all three of the shops and Wemyss agreed there were more European visitors on the Auto Road this summer. Additionally, Wemyss credited the out-of-the-region marketing by the Chamber, White Mountain Attractions and the Office of Travel & Tourism Development, along with great weather this summer as contributors to a strong summer.
Lauren Hawkins, Marketing Manager at Story Land, reported that the park saw its best Labor Day weekend in over four years, remarking that the glorious weather drove visitors to come play. Hawkins noted that despite a dip in Canadian business this summer and overall traffic on the hottest days of the summer, Story Land’s season has been comparable to last summer.
Charlene Brown reported that the hot, dry summer was not conducive to afternoon rides for the horses at the Stables at Farm by the River B&B. This had an impact on summer business, however, she predicts a strong fall season as the stables are open daily year round for horseback carriage and sleigh rides, plus trail riding and wagon rides throughout the fall.
Susan Logan, Director of Marketing at the Conway Scenic Railroad, informed the chamber that Labor Day weekend was up over last year. Railfan's Day on Saturday was up by 10-percent and, Sunday was up by 15-percent. Concurrently, the summer season was strong for the Conway Scenic Railroad too, according to Logan, with the First Class options remaining the most popular and people are spending more. When asked about the summer riders, Logan responded, “We saw more Europeans, especially from the UK and Germany. Also more Asian families (India/Pakistan, China, and Japan). We had one family from Japan that literally planned their White Mountains' vacation, their first, around our Thomas event!” A strong fall season is predicted for the Conway Scenic Railroad based upon early reservations.
Cathy Bedor, co-owner of the Mt Washington Cog Railway, responded to the chamber’s survey explaining that Saturday set a single day record and the three-day weekend was 15-percent ahead of last year- setting a record for a three-day holiday weekend. She shared that Labor Day weekend is often the Cog’s busiest of the year, also explaining that there is enough daylight to allow additional trains including the popular 5:30 sunset train. When asked about the summer, Bedor responded, “Because of our mix of New England, distant domestic and increased international travelers, and our new biodiesel locomotive added to our steam and biodiesel fleet, we are 10-percent ahead of last year on pace for another record season.”
Becca Deschenes, Director of Marketing at Cranmore Mountain Resort, told the chamber that the Labor Day weekend was 14-percent up over last year in overall revenue. Additionally, she added that the week leading up to the holiday weekend finished with the Mountain Adventure park finishing 32-percentahead in admissions over the same week last year. For the summer season, Cranmore finished on par with last year, with the Mountain Adventure Park performing better over last year, and the aerial adventure pacing a little behind. Deschenes speculates that drop in aerial adventure riders was due to it being more of a strenuous activity which was not as popular on the summer’s hottest days.
Bob, owner of White Lake Speedway concurred with his colleagues saying Labor Day was solid due to great weather. Additioinally, he noted that while the extremely hot days of the summer had an impact on business, overall the park was slightly up for summer, 2016.
When asked about the Summer, John Lowell, President of Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain said, “Business has been great and as usual August was especially strong. Labor Day capped off a very successful summer season at Attitash. We now shift our attention to the fall, with continued operations of the attractions and preparations for our (19th or 20th) Oktoberfest over Columbus Day Weekend. Simultaneously, preparations are underway for snowmaking at both Wildcat and Attitash with an eye towards the return of a real winter!”
Retailers also chimed in to the Chamber’s informal summer and Labor Day survey. Laura Tuveson, Assistant Director of Marketing & Events at Settlers Green and Settlers Crossing, shared that “Access to settlersgreen.com, which is the source of coupons, store sales information and our site map, saw an increase of 51-percent this year over Labor Day, 2015. The volume correlates to sales and traffic within our reporting stores, including Gap Outlet, Crocs Outlet and Timberland Factory, all reporting a strong weekend, especially Saturday.” Additionally, Tuveson added “Labor Day takes the crown for the busiest holiday weekend of the summer, outperforming Memorial Day and July 4 weekend for website traffic, up 75-percent and 35-percent respectively.
The Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce remains optimistic for a solid fall foliage tourism season, with clear increases from European visitors contributing to increases over last year. While weather is always a factor in determining traffic to Mt Washington Valley, the long term forecast for continued dry and warm weather will bode well for tourism businesses. To plan a fall foliage leaf-peeping getaway or winter, spring or summer 2017 trip to Mt Washington Valley, visit www.MtWashingtonValley.org for lodging, dining, tax-free shopping, recreation and services information. To talk with a Chamber representative, call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364). To learn more about New Hampshire vacations, go to www.VisitNH.gov.
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Photo caption: Shoppers flocked to Settlers Green for Labor Day sales and tax-free back to school shopping. Photo provided by Settlers Green. For additional photos of Mt Washington Valley visit the online photo gallery by clicking here or contact Marti Mayne at PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org or 207-846-6331.