Drop in reservations for South Shore rooms | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Drop in reservations for South Shore rooms

Susan Wood

Memorial Day holiday bookings for South Lake Tahoe-area lodging have dropped by 60 percent this holiday weekend in comparison to last year, but the business community should hang tight.

The Lake Tahoe summer horizon is soon looking up – despite a kickoff weekend with double-digit losses in bookings.

Call it the resilient season of high gasoline prices and terror warnings.

The latest figures from the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association – which handles reservations for 40 properties within the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority system- shows the topsy-turvy ride in the state of tourism these days.

“If I didn’t have a group coming in, I’d be in trouble. There are no phone calls, no walk-ins. I’m kind of disappointed. It doesn’t look as good as past years,” said Pete Mac Roberts of Viking Motor Lodge.

In line with statistics and the common theme, he’s already started booking into the summer.

Association spokesman Andy Chapman hopes the number of bookings may rise as more people reserve their stay at the last minute.

“Memorial Day is not the big holiday anymore. Now summer really starts over the Fourth (of July). We anticipate we’ll be down (by the end of the weekend). But we won’t make it all up,” he said.

The tourism marketing agency, however, has made 40 percent more reservations this summer than last at this time.

“The caveat is Memorial Day comes a week later,” he said.

This means the launching pad into the summer fun of hiking, boating, swimming and curling the toes in the warm sand may come earlier.

As previously reported in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, the Travel Industry Association of America expects a 3.2 rise in tourism this summer.

But heightened terrorist alerts don’t help, Chapman said.

South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association President Jerry Birdwell agreed, despite the Black Bear Inn owner’s lodge being nearly full this weekend.

Greta Hambsch of the Accommodation Station said she’s thankful she made concessions in expenses long before Memorial Day weekend.

“I’m just not seeing the traffic on Highway 50. But on the weekends it seems like people are out there on the street,” she said of business lately. “Maybe they’re day trippers.”

The South Shore businesswoman, who manages 100 vacation home rentals, has experienced a 2 percent drop in reservations for this holiday weekend in comparison to last year.

LTVA Executive Director Bill Chernock said it’s a mixed bag with who’s full and who’s not, with gasoline prices possibly adding to the fray of reasons for people on the roads or skies.

“Gas prices may keep people closer to home. But my gut feeling is the prices haven’t reached the level to where the effect is universal,” he said.

Fantasy Inn operator Jim Foff expects the summer will bring visitors here.

“It’s nothing to write home about this weekend, but people will always go on vacation,” he said.

AAA estimates 4.9 million Californians are expected to travel 50 miles or more over the holiday.

There are other determinants.

“The weather, while a little iffy, is very often a determining factor,” Chernock said.

After a blustery Friday morning with a chance of snow and cool temperatures, the National Weather Service predicts a warming trend that culminates with a high of 69 on Monday.

Heavenly Mountain Resort will welcome sightseers looking for wildflowers with the 1.1-mile Sky Meadows Trail off the gondola – which will be operating from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the weekend starting today. Hikers seeking high vantage points may take the .8-mile East Peak Trail for a sweeping view of Lake Tahoe.

And by the way, there’s no skiing.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com


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