Mt Washington Valley businesses report strong Feb Vacation Weeks sales
NEWS FROM MT WASHINGTON VALLEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – 3-4-14
Contact: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, PR@Mtwashingtonvalley.org
GREAT SNOW CONDITIONS CONTRIBUTE TO STRONG FEB VACATION WEEKS IN MT WASHINGTON VALLEY
Businesses report that New Hampshire Vacation Week is growing in the Valley
North Conway, NH – Businesses reporting to an informal survey from the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce shared that the winter snowfall was more a boon than a curse during the two consecutive vacation weeks in February. For some visitors, the heavy snowfall interrupted vacation plans, making travel to the Valley difficult just prior to and during the President’s Vacation Week. However, for skiers and riders, snowmobilers and outdoor recreation lovers, that same snow served as inspiration to travel, spurring getaways to the Valley. The bonus of snow outweighed the bust for most of those businesses reporting, as the majority weighed in with very positive comments about the two vacation weeks. Many of the survey respondents conveyed increases over last year for the New Hampshire school vacation week, observing that they’ve been seeing growth in that vacation week over the last few years.
“It’s important to remember that last year Mt Washington Valley had nearly 200-inches of winter snowfall, making it among the best seasons in a decade for many of our members,” said Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve welcomed as much as 120-inches of snowfall at our ski resorts this winter, so even those businesses reporting numbers on par with last year are having a banner winter season, because last year was simply exceptional followed by another great snow winter this year! Additionally, we are delighted to see that the Chamber’s efforts to promote closer-to-home vacations during the NH school vacation week are resulting in increases for businesses throughout the Valley,” finished Crawford.
The New Hampshire school vacation week started off with the 25th Annual Chocolate Festival held yearly at the Mt Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation, which broke all former ticket sales records with nearly one thousand attendees. “Chocolate Fest was the best ever with 988 people in attendance,” said Mt Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation Marketing Director, Barbara Sisson. “For the first time in quite some time we had the best combination of trail conditions and no weather events anywhere in New England to keep people from coming,” Sisson finished. Sisson also shared that both of the vacation weeks were up over last year for trail pass sales because of the great snow going into the vacation period.
Howie Wemyss, General Manager of Great Glen Trails shared that the President’s week was even with last year, but the New Hampshire vacation week was 20-percent ahead of last year in revenues for the XC Center. Despite the fact that they were even with last year for the first week, Wemyss shared “While a snowy first vacation week seemed to keep the numbers down a bit, New Hampshire vacation week has been building for us over the last three years.”
Cranmore Mountain Resort set a number of ticket sales records during the two vacation weeks. According to Marketing Director, Becca Deschenes, “We had some record breaking days over the vacation period. Saturday, February 22 was our biggest income day in our tracking history. Thursday, February 20, was our second largest day in tracking history and the largest day since 2007/08 for paid skier visits. Thursday, was also our biggest day ever for our KidsRule program with 263 kids.” Deschenes credits well-timed snow and excellent conditions on the trails with the record ticket sales, yet shared that even with record-breaking days, skier visits were on par with last year’s record President’s Week.
It wasn’t just skiers visiting Mt Washington Valley; snowmobilers came too for the great trail conditions. According to Peter Gagne of Northern Extremes Snowmobiling, demand was very high among snowmobilers for riding in Mt Washington Valley throughout February. “Northern Extremes Snowmobiling had an amazing February,” said Gagne. “Business was even with last year, but last year was a record winter. We sold out 11 days in a row and turned away hundreds of people over the Presidents Day weekend. The weather was perfect and with all the snow in Southern New England people wanted to escape the city for the mountains,” Gagne shared. Gagne also reported that New Hampshire school vacation week was a little ahead of last year for Northern Extremes Snowmobiling.
Charlene Brown, co-owner of Farm by the River B&B With Stables, concurred with Gagne, explaining that the sleighride and horseback riding business saw its largest during the New Hampshire school vacation week. According to Brown, both weeks were up over last year for the Stables, and business at the inn was up over last year for the New Hampshire school vacation week and even with last year for the President’s Week.
The lodging members who responded to the survey were equally enthusiastic about growth in revenues over last year’s vacation weeks. Christopher Bellis and Eddie Bennett, owners of Cranmore Inn Bed & Breakfast, reported that room reservations were up 19-percent for the President’s Week and up 35-percent for the New Hampshire school vacation week. Bellis and Bennett shared that the focus among their guests was on winter sports, and explained that there was a heavy emphasis on families traveling together at their inn, which is set up ideally to accommodate families.
Frank Guerriero, Director of Marketing and Communications for Eastern Slope Inn Resort and Attitash Mountain Village, responded with very positive comments about the vacation weeks, saying “North Conway and the Mount Washington Valley were a buzz of activity, resulting in the vacation weeks exceeding targeted expectations and resulting in sold out accommodations.” Guerriero explained that both vacation weeks were up over last year. “Weather always plays a factor in vacationer activity, and with the recent snow, it was the icing on the summit so to speak, driving visitor activity to the region,” Guerriero went on. “That, in culmination with more tailored marketing campaigns, loyal guests, and vacationers allocating social media as a source of information, it's been a phenomenal vacation and President's week,” he finished.
Jen Kovach, co-owner of the Snowvillage Inn also reported both vacation weeks were up over last year for the inn. She also credited the great snow conditions plus the proliferance of younger couples coming for romance and snowshoeing packages for the increase.
Owners of dining establishments concurred with other businesses. Linda Rafferty, co-owner of Rafferty’s Restaurant and Pub, explained that with the President’s week starting with Valentine’s Day and New Hampshire school vacation week ending with the Chilly Chili Cookoff, there were many reasons for visitors to dine out. She explained that sales were up over last year for both weeks and that the Chili Cookoff resulted in great foot traffic throughout North Conway Village all day. Charlie Mallar, co-owner of the 1785 Inn agreed and reported increases over last year not only for the restaurant but the inn too. “We are right in the middle of the Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation trails and the excellent snow conditions made for more happy customers, culminating with the highest attendance ever for the Chocolate Festival,” shared Mallar.
Dot Seybold of Settlers Green Outlet Village weighed in too, saying that both weeks were very busy, and that the great skiing conditions also helped to drive retail sales too. She agreed that New Hampshire school vacation week was also up over last year for sales. Matt Fusco, Owner of The Rugged Mill store in North Conway Village, reported that the two snow days during President’s Week impacted his sales, yet the New Hampshire school vacation week was up 47-percent over last year, mainly because of the Chili Cookoff driving traffic to the Village.
“With all the snow in Mt Washington Valley, there’s plenty of ski season left,” reminded Janice Crawford. To learn more about planning a winter getaway to Mt Washington Valley, go to www.MtWashingtonValley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364) to talk to a vacation planning concierge.
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