MWV Businesses Cautiously Optimistic for Summer/Fall After Strong July 4 Weekend
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 8, 2008
CONTACT: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MT WASHINGTON VALLEY BUSINESSES CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISITIC AFTER STRONG JULY 4 WEEKEND
Three day weekend, great weather and close-to-home travelers contributed to strong July 4 weekend for most businesses
North Conway, NH - It may not have been a record-setter for many businesses, but the July 4 weekend was strong for most of the businesses who responded to an informal survey distributed by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Seventy-five percent of the lodging properties responding to the survey claimed bookings were up over last year anywhere from 10 percent to 90 percent. Campgrounds, in particular, posted 30 percent increases over 2007 with strong bookings throughout the rest of the summer. Attractions and golf courses saw increases in business over last year. Restaurants reported a strong weekend too. Retailers offered mixed results varying from dismal to increased sales credited to in-store specials. Nearly forty respondents confirmed that the majority of those vacationing in Mt Washington Valley over the July 4 holiday came from one-tank destinations, and a number noted an increase in visitors from southern New Hampshire. Additionally, a number of respondents noted Canadian and European travelers accounting for more and more of their customers this summer, and most concurred that with the holiday falling on a Friday, many people traveled to the Valley because they had a three day weekend.
While it's difficult to speculate that any businesses are thriving in the present unstable economy, the campgrounds and motels responding to the survey were unanimously agreed that bookings are up this summer. Valerie Boatwright of Eastern Slope Camping Area said "Wow! What a weekend! We were full and had to turn several away. We had about 30 percent more sites occupied than 2007." Sandy Allan, owner of the Beaver Hollow Campground, concurred it was a strong weekend for them, saying "Most of our clientele came from Southern New Hampshire, nearby Maine and then Massachusetts". Allan commented they're seeing an increase in tenters this summer too. Leslie at Wills Inn concurred with the others, claiming solid bookings through July 8. Gordon Young owner of Saco River Motor Lodge claimed sold-out nights on Friday and Saturday and close-to-it on Sunday. Additionally, many B&Bs weighed in, including the Red Elephant, Farm by the River, and Old Red Inn and Cottages; all mentioned that bookings were either up or even over last year. Arthur de la Torre from the Eastman Inn reported that bookings doubled over last year. Frederique Procyk at Cranmore Mountain Lodge, Don King at the Royalty Inn and Irene Donnell at the Mount Washington Resort said room bookings were even with last year. Interestingly, the three day weekend did not necessarily result in three-day bookings for lodging properties. H. Chandler from Resort Rentals explained "we were told that many companies now enforce rules about working the day before and after the holiday if you want to be paid for it, therefore they were only able to spend two nights".
Increases in bookings this summer are not reserved only for the value-priced lodging properties, however. Chris Diego, Managing Director at Mountain View Grand, told the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce "We were sold out for the July 4 weekend. As of last week, we have booked more room revenue than the resort has ever actually done for July. August booking pace is 175% over last year and we expect another record breaking month". Diego credits the resort's success to a combination of a friendly engaging staff, a hardworking sales department that love what they do, an updated compelling website, complimentary children's and family activities program, and plenty of things to do.
While the comments were informal, the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce heard there were record breaking crowds gathered to watch fireworks in Schouler Park and on the common in Gorham too. They also came out in force to enjoy the traditional July 4 celebration at the Mount Washington Resort. "The weather was fabulous, and we had about 3200 people turn out for the Star-Spangled Celebration on Saturday," said Irene Donnell. "This was well above last year's turn out, when the weather was quite a bit cooler on July 4th," she finished.
It's clear that visitors enjoyed plenty of outdoor recreational pursuits, taking advantage of the great weekend weather. Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing & Sales at Wildcat Mountain said "Visits and revenues were up for Wildcat Mountain and much of that is attributable to our new ZipRider zip-line cable ride". The ZipRider was newly opened at this time last year. Prindle continued saying "Saturday was our biggest day and certainly the three day weekend allowed visitors to take advantage of that time, but the weather absolutely contributed to persons wanting to spend that time outside and that helps our visits". Jim Miller, Director of Marketing at Story Land said "the Independence Day holiday was as strong as we've ever seen," crediting the great weather, large number of families and the fact the holiday fell on a Friday. When asked, Miller confirmed that retail and food purchases in the park were consistent with previous years. Province Lake Golf Enterprises weighed in on the survey saying that revenues were up 10 percent over 2007, and confirmed that most visitors were from within a one-tank distance.
Jonathan and Natalie Spak, Chef/Innkeepers at the Oxford Inn reported that dining reservations almost tripled over last year. They observed that most diners were second home buyers in the Valley.
Both the economy forcing spending consumer cuts and the great weather may have hurt Mt Washington Valley retailers as visitors spent their time in the outdoors. More than 50 percent of the retailers responding to the survey said that sales were down over last year. Ken Close at the Little Shop in the Woods on Route 16 said sales were up because of special in-store offers. Having the chance to talk to customers in their store, Close observed "In talking with customers, a great deal of concern about fuel prices is expressed; they say they are spending less to make up for high cost of gas. Also New England customers say they are cutting back on the number of trips, but staying an extra day or two." Aaron Kesmetis of Aaron Hats shared "Our in-store business saw a tremendous increase over the same period last year. Sun protection continues to be an important factor for people as they look for hats to help prevent skin cancer."
Overall, those responding to the survey are cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the summer in Mt Washington Valley. While high gas prices and an unstable economy continue to nag consumers, the need for the "all American getaway" still remains a priority. With an increase in Canadian and European visitors noted, along with a proliferation of close-to-home vacations, Mt Washington Valley stands to weather the travel travails throughout the summer and fall.
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