Holiday bookings are up |

Holiday bookings are up

Susan Wood

With the promise of snow and a cool place to revel this weekend, visitors have shown an interest in flocking to Lake Tahoe for the holidays. And lodging managers will take the business in a hard-fought year for competitive tourism dollars.

For the period between Dec. 17 and Jan. 2, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Central Reservations line has taken 10 percent more bookings than last year for Tahoe hotels on the North and South Shore list. Total reservations had added up to almost 600 by Monday evening – and the phone continues to ring, spokesman Andy Chapman reported.

South Shore reservations are up 7 percent, he added.

Aside from the North Shore gains, gross revenues paint a little different story on this side of the lake. South Shore revenue is down for the period by 6 percent.

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“We’re seeing shorter stays down there,” Chapman said from his Tahoe City office. The trend somewhat breaks a pattern of the stepped-up overnight stays prompted by the destination visitor market’s increased interest in Tahoe.

“The bigger thing we saw is the longer stays are going to the vacation homes,” Chapman said.

Greta Hambsch of the Accommodation Station may support that observation.

She’s seen a spike in vacation home rental business for the week between Christmas and New Year’s – with her vacation homes on the service full for the latter holiday.

“It’s wonderful to have the guests back in town,” she said Monday.

A number of visitors have booked the same house through the week, requiring more staff time to make the transitions.

“But that’s OK,” Hambsch said, adding she’s just happy about the increased business.

She dropped the minimum-stay requirement to accommodate more people.

The Station House Inn kept the three-night minimum stay in place, but it hasn’t hurt the Stateline-area hotel. Manager Eric Eymann counted 100 inquiry calls in one hour on Monday.

Harrah’s and Harveys hotel rooms are sold out for the weekend, so the casinos are throwing out the welcome mats to the players to provide a memorable experience. For one, Wayne Newton’s planned concert on Jan. 1 will toast the best players – with limited tickets available to the general public.

“It seems to not matter where this holiday falls,” spokesman John Packer said of New Year’s in comparison to other holidays such as Labor Day.

Like the Holiday Inn Express, the Fantasy Inn has also enjoyed the start of the midweek windfall. Jim Foff has reported his place is sold out from Monday through Saturday in the same manner as the Accommodation Station, with some guests picking up where others have left off.

“There are a lot of people who are off this week,” he said. “The question is how we’ll do next week. Next week doesn’t look all that good.”

Perhaps lodging managers could hope for the extended stays brought about by Mother Nature last year around the New Year’s holiday, when about 5 feet of snow dumped at lake level in a few days. The snow prompted some people to stay in town longer, and many motorists consumed hours heading from one side of town to the other.

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