Mt Washington Valley businesses report strong Thanksgiving weekend, 2016
News from Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce – November 28, 2016
Contact: Marti Mayne, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org or 207-846-6331
SNOW, EVENTS & HOLIDAY SPIRIT CONTRIBUTE TO A STRONG THANKSGIVING WEEKEND IN
MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH
North Conway, NH – By nearly all accounts, Mt Washington Valley businesses enjoyed a strong Thanksgiving/Black Friday holiday weekend, according to an informal survey distributed to members of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. With two ski resorts opening, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales, coupled with Spirit of the Holidays events in North Conway Village, businesses from all sectors reported that bookings and sales were brisk over the kick-off to the holidays weekend.
“The Spirit of the Holidays events in North Conway Village helped to not only spur the holiday spirit, but bring people into the Village for shopping, dining and fun. The cold weather and snow at the ski resorts motivated skiers and riders to get out on the trails much earlier this year. These two factors, coupled with the announcement from USA Today’s 2016-17 10 Best Awards that North Conway is among the top five ski towns in the USA bodes well for a great start to the holiday season,” noted Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Marketing Directors at the ski resorts weighed in with predictions for a strong ski season. Dan Houde, Marketing Director at Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain shared these comments, “We saw encouraging signs that skiers feel confident in the upcoming season. Opening Wildcat on Thanksgiving Day proved to be very popular with skiers and riders in town for the holiday. Overall numbers were up over last season. Also, a good sign was a record number of “Drifter” Season Passes sold over the weekend to our college-age fans who really love the affordable, multiple-mountain options. It appears that skiers feel confident that a better season is headed their way!”
While weather didn’t cooperate to allow Cranmore Mountain Resort to open for skiing, the Adventure Park made its winter debut over the Thanksgiving weekend. “Cranmore was open for the weekend with the mountain adventure park, dry slope tubing and celebrated our annual homecoming beer fest and trail sign auction on Saturday,” shared Becca Deschenes, Cranmore Marketing Director. Deschenes also added that approximately 100 people attended the Warren Miller movie showing to kick off the season, adding this attendance was up over last year’s one night showing. Snowmaking will continue this week with an eye on possibly opening this weekend depending on weather.
Bretton Woods had a very successful Thanksgiving holiday weekend. According to Alexa Bernotavicz, Bretton Woods Ski Area Assistant Director of Ski Operations, “Thanksgiving Day was our second best turnout in the past eight years.” Over the four-day holiday weekend, Bretton Woods reported more than 3000 very happy skiers. “The cold temperatures of the past week, combined with the early jump we got on the season, meant that there was good terrain for all abilities, including our learning area and beginner chairlift, so ski school was able to offer lessons,” added Bernotavicz. “The weekend events were also a success. Our annual Homecoming Weekend and showing of Warren Miller’s 67th film, “Here There and Everywhere” saw a 50% increase from last year’s increase from last year’s attendance. There was certainly a sense that everyone was excited to be out on the snow after last winter’s disappointing performance so we all feel that we are poised to have a great season,” she finished. Snowmaking continues throughout the week at Bretton Woods, which will open additional terrain and lifts as weather allows.
Susan Logan, Director of Marketing for Conway Scenic Railroad, reported an excellent start for the holiday season. “For the first weekend of our “Santa’s Holiday Express” event, we were up 20-percent over last year. Friday was especially busy, and I know that the fresh snow contributed to people getting into the Christmas spirit and out to ride our trains,” Logan shared. Looking forward, Logan reports that advance reservations are strong, plus trains will run daily December 26 through January 1, giving visitors an additional recreational option during Christmas Week.
Lodging members responding to the survey were encouraged by the traffic to the Valley for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Christopher Bellis, owner of Cranmore Inn Bed and Breakfast, reported that business at the inn was up 12-percent over 2015 due to the continued increased demand for local leisure travel that he has observed since earlier this year. Even more encouraging, Bellis told the chamber, “Based on current reservations we expect the Christmas vacation week to be very busy with reservations up 18-percent over last year at this time, and we are hopeful that New Year’s weekend will be fabulous since New Year’s falls on a Saturday this year.”
Steve Lambert, Innkeeper at the Bernerhof Inn B&B, shared that incidental spending was up 20-percent in the pub and spa, while room revenues increased 11-percent over last year for the Thanksgiving weekend. Lambert credits the three-day all-inclusive package offered at the Bernerhof with his success, added he served up 58 pounds of turkey with the included Thanksgiving dinner. Lambert also added that the inn’s booking pace is ahead of last year noting that “optimism is there for the three to four-hour drive time consumers to get their ski time in this year. They’ve had 16 months of pent up demand!”
The chamber heard from a number of restaurants, all agreeing that shoppers and holiday revelers were dining en masse too. Christopher Bellis, co-owner of Chef’s Bistro in North Conway shared, “Business at the restaurant was up 11-percent over last year due to increased demand from families attending the Journey to the North Pole.”
Bud Selmi, owner of the Margarita Grill in Glen, concurred telling the chamber that business was up over last year and crediting the colder weather with bringing in skiers. “We feel that given the much colder temperatures and early snow, I strongly believe this holiday season will be up over last year since the weather seems to be much colder this year,” said Selmi.
Peter Jones, owner of the Abenaki Trail Restaurant and Pub, also weighed into the chamber’s survey with enthusiasm. “After a fall season that didn't seem to stop, the Thanksgiving weekend didn't disappoint! Friday was the busiest we have had in three years, up 35-percent, and Saturday beat last year by 14-percent. We are predicting 15 to 20-percent sales increases over last year for the holiday season. We already have reservations for families during Christmas vacation.”
Retailers responded to the survey with mixed responses. Timothy W. Psaledakis, owner of Jewelry by Tim & Friends, said “This year was slightly up from last year with the tree lighting event continuing to be a great draw!” Tim added that he expects business to continue growing at a steady pace throughout the holiday season.
Matt Fusco, Owner of The Rugged Mill in North Conway reported sales on Friday rose by 5-percent over 2015, and sales on Saturday were up 12-percent over last year. “I believe the winter weather overall helped put people in the shopping mood,” added Fusco. “On Saturday, we had the added boost from the growing support of "Small Business Saturday" and this year having the Christmas Parade and Santa in North Conway brought in more traffic.”
Yet, Deborah Jasien, Owner if Fields of Ambrosia: BATH-BODY-AROMA in North Conway reported that the Thanksgiving weekend was slower than 2015. According to Jasien, Black Friday specifically was down by 40-percent and Small Business Saturday was down by 10-percent over last year. Sunday’s sales were even with last year at the shop. “National trends are geared for earlier shopping, plus the number of Artisan Craft Fairs as well as the convenience of online shopping are surely influencing the drop-in sales,” added Jasien.
With the prediction for continued colder weather making snowmaking possible, coupled with more snow predicted for the mountains, Mt Washington Valley’s ski resorts and XC Centers are gearing up for a strong December. Add in a packed events calendar and holiday lodging packages, and the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce suggests that business will be as brisk as the temperatures throughout the upcoming holiday season.
For more information on planning a holiday, skiing or shopping getaway to Mt Washington Valley, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org or call 1-800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH). To learn more about visiting New Hampshire, go to www.VisitNH.gov.
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