Rooms not flying out the window for New Year’s 2000
It’s almost the year 2000! Have you made your party reservations yet? No? Are you crazy?
Well, maybe not. Even with all the hype that has surrounded the coming end of the millennium, it seems that there is still plenty of room in America’s top resort locations if one wants to make a last-minute reservation.
You just can’t be too picky. If you want to take a cruise to Hawaii, well, that may be booked. But a little ski condo in Aspen might just still be available.
Take South Lake Tahoe for instance. Expected to be one of the country’s biggest New Year’s Eve hot spots, you would expect the major hotels to be booked solid. Not so. You can still get in here – for a price.
A call to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe revealed that there are plenty of rooms available for New Year’s. But there’s a catch. According to the reservation clerk we contacted, Harrah’s is offering only reservation packages for the New Year’s weekend. One has to buy a package that includes three nights, two tickets to a New Year’s Eve party, a ski package, show tickets, dinner and a daily breakfast. The cost? $2,995. The clerk said that there were “plenty of packages still available.”
That may be a little pricey if all you are looking for is a one-night stay on New Year’s Eve.
“There’s a resistance out there to New Year’s rates,” said Gail Thompson of Heavenly Tahoe Vacations, who noted that price and minimum night requirements are beginning to shrink as the date gets closer. “We expect a surge in bookings (right before New Year’s),” she said.
Heavenly Ski Resort spokesperson Monica Bandows said that after an initial frenzy, reservations there have slacked off.
“Now we’re finding that people aren’t going to just go anywhere because of the cost and concerns about flights (due to Y2K),” she said.
It’s a similar story in other areas of the U.S.
Hotel rooms, though pricey, are still available at such New Year’s carousing headquarters as Times Square, New Orleans and the Disney parks in Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim.
Cabins remain open for millennium ocean cruises. Revelers still can line up a limo in Las Vegas or a babysitter in Manhattan.
”All this stuff about Y2K, I’m sick of hearing about it. And everything about how the world’s going to end,” Mike Mumbower of Seattle said during a vacation to Disneyland in Anaheim. He plans to stay home Dec. 31. ”We’re just indifferent. It’s kind of like, who cares?”
”New Year’s is overrated, even this one,” said Tanya Hotovek of San Francisco, who also plans to be at home. ”It turns midnight, it’s all over.”
Surveys by Travel Weekly, a trade publication, and the Travel Industry Association found about four-fifths of Americans do not plan to travel this New Year’s. In the Travel Weekly survey, 43 percent of respondents who do not plan trips said the millennium meant nothing to them.
”People think the Earth is ending, but it’s going to come and go real quick,” said Chris Gibson of Paramus, N.J., who plans to jam with some musician friends on New Year’s Eve. ”The next day it’ll be back to the same thing as any other year. Trying to remember to write 2000 instead of 1999.”
No one’s calling New Year’s a bust. But expectations of a book-early mentality among millennium revelers have faded.
”There was maybe an attitude of get your champagne now because you won’t get any later,” said Beverly Gianna of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. ”But reality has set in.”
Reality is that travelers are not making millennium plans much faster than for a typical New Year’s. Some people planning big blowouts booked early, while others simply remain undecided about what they’ll be doing.
”If you can afford to be on the Concorde flying around the International Date Line, you’ve booked that already,” said Erik Elvejord, a spokesman for Holland America cruise line.
It’s the more down-to-earth millennium jaunts, a weekend around Disneyland or a ski trip to Aspen, Colo., that have not filled up as quickly as expected.
In Aspen, millennium hotel bookings are down 9 percent from where they were at this time for last New Year’s Eve. Nearly two-thirds of the 40 rooms at the Boomerang Lodge are available, said owner Charles Paterson.
New Orleans’ hotel rooms are up to 70 percent booked for this New Year’s. At the Omni Royal Orleans, 40 percent of the 362 rooms and suites remain available.
New Year’s bookings are running a bit faster than usual at the Millennium Broadway hotel in Manhattan, though about 40 percent of the 752 rooms are still available, even a few overlooking Times Square.
Rooms typically costing $400 a night there are going for $550 to $600 with a three-day minimum stay. While the hotel expects to be fully booked, the Millennium might relax prices or minimum-stay requirements if the rooms do not fill up closer to New Year’s, said Michael Littler, the hotel’s general manager.
-The Associated Press contributed to this report
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