Businesses reported increases over last year for Memorial Day weekend
News from Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce – May 28, 2014
Contact: Marti Mayne, PR Manager, 207-846-6331, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org
WEATHER FORECASTS DID NOT DETER VISITORS OVER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Majority of Mt Washington Valley businesses reported strong Memorial Day sales and optimism for a great summer
North Conway, NH – While it wasn’t unanimous, the vast majority of businesses responded to an informal survey distributed by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce with positive comments and enthusiasm about the Memorial Day Weekend. Attractions opened to crowds of visitors who defied the rainy forecasts to enjoy family fun as many of the Mt Washington Valley theme and adventure parks opened for the 2014 season, joining others that opened earlier in the spring. Many responding business owners commented that after the tough winter, travelers were anxious to spend time outdoors, enjoying springtime in Mt Washington Valley. Enthusiasm among Mt Washington Valley business owners is high for a strong summer as lodging and attraction representatives commented that advance bookings are well ahead of last year.
“We were happy to hear from the majority of our members that the Memorial Day weekend was such a success,” commented Janice Crawford, Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “To know that most lodging, restaurants, attractions, golf courses and retailers were up over last year for Memorial Day is a good omen for a successful summer,” finished Crawford.
Steve Lambert of the Bernerhof Inn Bed and Breakfast shared that the inn and its new pub was “noticeably up” in and specifically that Canadian and Boston guest bookings by 10-percent over last year at the inn. Christopher Bellis, co-owner of the Cranmore Inn Bed and Breakfast, said that reservations were even this year when compared to last year because a group booked most of the rooms at the inn for the past two years. However, he shared that non-group room revenues were up 15-percent. Frank Guerriero, Director of Marketing and Communications for Attitash Mountain Service Company, shared that both revenues and bookings were up 12-percent over last year at Attitash Mountain Village and 15-percent at Eastern Slope Inn Resort. According to Guerriero, “The change is a culmination of increased consumer confidence as a result of a stabilizing economy and aggressive marketing activity utilizing online and electronic channels for brand positioning and development.”
Sally Brassill from the Top Notch Inn in Gorham, NH said, “I'd say this was the busiest Saturday on Memorial Day weekend for the past 21 years I've been here!” The Top Notch Inn is poised to open the Mt. Moriah Cottage, a 5 BR rental, next to the inn in June and is anticipating its best season ever, weather permitting. Sally shared, “We are open from May-October. When we opened this year, we had 50-percent more reservations than the previous year,” a good omen for the upcoming summer.
Both Craig Cox at the Riverbend Inn in Chocorua and Andrea Walsh, of the World Fellowship Center in Albany concurred, saying business was up over last year for Memorial Day 2014. Cox credited his increased bookings on a wedding taking many of the rooms, and Walsh explained that word-of-mouth advertising is bringing more people to experience their peace and justice camp and conference center.
Kevin Flynn, co-owner of the Snowvillage Inn, reported that bookings were up 50-percent over last year. Flynn credited their increased marketing efforts along with a pent-up desire to get out after a long winter. “I feel, people had been locked up in their houses all winter and just had to get away. Even with the threat of bad weather we had no cancellations at all,” shared Flynn.
Summer business is very weather-dependent for the Mt Washington Valley’s attractions. Some, although not all, were impacted by forecasts for rain. Peter Gagne, Saco Canoe Rental Company owner, reported that sales were even with last year, but that weather impacted many potential customers’ decision to spend time on the water. According to Jack Mahaney at Story Land, however, “rain did not dampen our opening or the introduction of Roar-O-Saurus; business was up over last year on all fronts!” Similarly, Becca Deschenes, Marketing Director at Cranmore Mountain Resort shared “We had a very strong weekend. Admissions for our Aerial Adventure Park were up 79-percent over last year, and for our Mountain Adventure Park, up 63-percent over last year.”
Recalling past year’s calamitous Memorial Day weather, Jim Miller of Santa’s Village told the chamber “Memorial Day weekend at Santa's Village was a strong start to the park's 62nd season. Attendance and guest spending were right on target with expectations and prior years, and far exceeded 2013 when a rainy Saturday was followed by a fluke snowstorm-induced power outage the next day.”
Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing, Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain, credited better weather this year than last year for increases at both attractions. “This year's Memorial Day Weekend visits at both Attitash and Wildcat were up considerably over the same period last year and I'd have to say that the weather helped us to achieve that. Though some rain did fall on Saturday, it was not a complete wash-out like it was last year. The weekend weather overall was mostly accommodating to enjoy outdoor attractions and activities,” shared Prindle.
Yet, Susan Logan, Marketing Director at the Conway Scenic Railroad, did not concur with her attractions colleagues, saying that weather contributed to a decrease in ticket sales over last year, noting that there appeared to be less people in the Village over this Memorial Day weekend than in past years.
Jonathan Rivers of Indian Mound Golf Course & River's Edge Grill & Tavern shared that Memorial Day Weekend, 2014 was one of the best the course and restaurant have seen in years. Rivers said, “Coming off a long cold winter people were ready to finally get outdoors and play. This weekend is always a great indication for a great summer and fall season and we saw it.” Rivers noted that the restaurant revenues were up over last year too.
All three of the restaurant owners who weighed in to the survey concurred that business was brisk and up over last year for the Memorial Day weekend. Beth Carta-Dolan, of Joseph's Spaghetti Shed said revenues were up quite a bit, and credits the Valley Originals flag flying outside for attracting more customers. Linda Rafferty, co-owner of Rafferty’s Restaurant & Pub said that Saturday and Sunday were among the busiest ever for a Memorial Day weekend, resembling an August not a May weekend. Kevin Flynn at Max’s Restaurant at Snowvillage Inn said “numbers were way up,” crediting an increase in inn guests plus the finesse of the new chef and a focus on locally sourced ingredients for creative dishes.
Timothy W. Psaledakis, owner of Jewelry by Tim & Friends, felt business was down, only because his shop was not open as long this Memorial Day weekend. He did say that he’s seen an increase in Canadian shoppers. Matt Fusco of The Rugged Mill in North Conway Village reported an overall 10-percent increase in sales for the Memorial Day weekend and a 15-percent increase for Victoria Weekend (the weekend preceding Memorial Day) noting that he’s seeing “his share” of Canadian shoppers this year. And Dot Seybold, General Manager at Settlers’ Green Outlet Village shared that after checking with the major stores there, most reported a gangbuster Victoria Weekend and a solid Memorial Day weekend. Seybold noted that the weather was favorable to shopping, and the tent and sidewalk sales helped to attract shoppers. Seybold also concurred with other retailers that the first part of the weekend was a bit slower, but it picked up strong on Sunday and Monday.
Lodging properties responding to the surveys all concurred that advance bookings for the summer and fall are a good indicator that this summer will be strong. Steve Lambert said rooms, massage and package advance bookings at the Bernerhof Inn B&B were all up over last year for the summer. Frank Guerriero, told the chamber that Eastern Slope Inn Resort and Attitash Mountain Village are both is trending above their pace of the last five years for advance reservations, with Attitash Mountain Village up 14-percent ahead of last year for the summer months and Eastern Slope Inn up 16-percent over last year. Susan Logan at Conway Scenic Railroad concurred, saying “our advance reservations are strong, and our tour group bookings are way up, not only for the fall, but for summer too; we’re looking forward to a really busy summer.”
While summer business is extremely weather-dependent, based on all indicators, the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce is cautiously optimistic that this will be one of the best summers in many years for member businesses. For more information on visiting Mt Washington Valley, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364). To plan your New Hampshire summer getaway, go to www.visitnh.gov.
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