TAHOE/TRUCKEE — “Do you have any paddleboards that we can rent?” Lynne Steckbeck asked of Alicia Verham, who was manning the front desk Wednesday afternoon at Enviro-Rents in Kings Beach.
“We do, yes,” said Verham, handing Steckbeck a clipboard with a stack of rental agreements.
With paperwork filled out and an imprint of her credit card taken, Steckbeck and her daughter, Madelyn — who are in town from Scottsdale, Ariz. — stepped outside into the low 80-degree, sunny weather to collect their paddleboards before joining other visitors on Lake Tahoe’s waters.
“It’s been good — really good,” said Enviro-Rents owner Harry King, referring to business this summer, as another group of people came into the shop asking about rentals.
Summer bookings on the North Shore are up 13.5 percent from last year, said Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association, a figure that’s likely to change as the year continues.
It’s a trend happening across the west. According to the Mountain Travel Research Program, projected occupancy for July is up 4.5 percent compared to July 2012, and overall occupancy for June through December is currently up an aggregated 7.3 percent.
Further, lodging revenue is projected to be up 14 percent for the period, according to MTRP, which represents 17 mountain resort communities across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada and Oregon.
“It’s been one of the busiest summers that I’ve seen in awhile,” said Juan Gonzalez, who works the front desk of Tahoe Sands Resort in Tahoe Vista. “We’ve been booking up every single weekend completely, to capacity.”
Gonzalez said Tahoe Sands Resort started to book up completely around the Fourth of July.
“(July Fourth was) extraordinary,” said John Percy, co-owner of Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City. “That was really spectacular. Only if July Fourth could fall on a Thursday every year.”
Jeff Hill, bar manager for Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Carnelian Bay, said July 5 was the restaurant’s busiest day ever in its 25-year history.
July has also been busy for Backstreet Boutique in Truckee, with business up about 30 percent from last July, said store manager Amber Kramer.
“It’s more people, more interaction,” she said. “I can buy more clothes and not have the same clothes just sit here. Watching product go out the door is pretty fun.”
RESERVATIONS UP 41.5 PERCENT
Hosting more summer events is likely to attract more tourists, officials said this week.
“There’s more and more events every year, and that seems to help (business),” King said. “More and more of these triathlons, bike rides, runs and swims — all these things that are similar to what we do here.”
One of those new events this year is the Sept. 22 Ironman Lake Tahoe — and business impacts already are evident.
Rooms on the North Shore for that week are practically sold out, Chapman said, and reservations for the month of September are up 41.5 percent from last year, as of June 30.
“Everything we’re doing is heads in beds,” Chapman said.
FEEL THE HEAT
Weather is also helping attract visitors. With not much snowfall from January on, the summer season kicked off earlier this year.
“We did a bunch of business in April and May because there was biking in April,” Percy said. “It was not very wintery.”
Now, with hot temperatures throughout the western U.S., people are trying to escape the heat.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt there’s been some hot weather — that tends to have people make it up here to beat the heat a little bit,” Percy said
It all comes at a time when consumer confidence is rising. In June, the Consumer Confidence Index saw a 9.6 percent increase to 81.4 points, the highest level since January 2008.
“Everything is going well,” said Elise Pannell, manager of Best Pies Pizzeria and Restaurant in Truckee. “It’s a good summer ... I hope it’s like this every summer.”