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Dream holiday brings skiers, sleepers and traffic

The Presidents Day holiday weekend was “what the ski industry dreams of,” according to Heavenly Ski Resort’s John Wagnon.

A major snow storm early last week that dumped several feet of snow, followed by dry weather for the weekend, primed the pump for possibly the best ski conditions of the season.

“It doesn’t get much better than this to have tons of snow just prior to the holiday and then to clear up for us,” Wagnon said.



With great ski conditions, business in general was strong, though not spectacular.

Heavenly was “on par with last year, which was a good weekend for us,” Wagnon said. “We haven’t been breaking any big records but business is strong.”




“It’s been a good solid weekend, not a record setter, but strong,” said Marty Heffner, owner of Sunrise Ski Rental.

“People are really happy with the ski conditions,” Heffner said. “They complained a little about the crowds, but they’re happy with the conditions.”

The strong market was stronger for some businesses.

Sierra-at-Tahoe, which relies more on the weather-sensitive, drive-up market, recorded a 25-percent increase in ticket sales for Friday, Saturday and Sunday compared to last year, said Nancy Harrison, Sierra’s public relations coordinator.

“The weekend is going great,” Harrison said on Monday. “The combined effect of the snow last week and a nice weekend, really helped us out.”

The ski industry was not the only business that benefited.

“It’s safe to say we ran pretty much at capacity for the snowmobile center and the (M.S. Dixie II) also,” Bill Chernock, director of marketing for Zephyr Cove Resort said. He described the weekend as “very large, very smooth.”

“The town was full,” said Kathleen Farrell, executive director of the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce. “While driving through town, it was refreshing to see a lot of small (lodging) properties that said ‘sorry, no vacancy.'”

Driving through town might have been refreshing but it was often tedious.

“That’s the downside,” Farrell said. “Yet, I’m so happy to see the streets clogged with people and snow.”

All those people filled up motel rooms, according to Pete MacRoberts, president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association and owner of Viking Motor Lodge.

“I sold out all three days,” he said. “All the folks I’ve talked to had a very successful weekend.”

From heads on beds to cars on highways, most left town on Monday. Several visitors stopped in Meyers expressed satisfaction with their holiday break, despite the prospect of a long, slow drive home, including Jeff Spano and Marco Nonni, of Burlingame, Calif. “We had a great time,” Spano said as they sat waiting for a rental car in a broken-down truck.

The couple almost made it out of town before the crowds, they said.

Having better luck, if not a faster trip home, a group of 30 friends and family from the Bay Area stopped at the Chevron in Meyers for refreshments and gasoline.

“I plan on eight hours on the road,” said Nelson Yoro, with a resigned chuckle.

Clustered around one of the group’s six vehicles, he and several others reflected on their weekend – their ninth President’s Day gathering.

“The whole weekend was great,” Paul Declaro said. “This is really a wonderful place to meet.”

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