Some rooms were available Jan. 1 |

Some rooms were available Jan. 1

New Year’s Eve walk-ins at South Shore motels kept profits from walking away from what is normally one of the two biggest tourism weekends of the year.

Kris Collins, director of operations for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, estimated lakewide occupancy for the weekend at about 90 percent for the rooms on its central reservations system and down 20 percent for the week. South Shore revenue was down about 20 percent.

“We still had availability,” she said of the central reservations office that answers both the 800-AT-TAHOE South Shore number and the 800-TAHOE4U North Shore number. “Last year was pretty much sold out.”

Availability made life a little easier for the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce staff. Last year, they scrambled to find vacancies for dozens of people looking for last-minute lodging between Christmas and New Year’s.

“We still got tons and tons of calls, especially last week,” chamber office manager Launa Craig said. Unlike last year, she added, there were places to send them.

Thanks to people who made last-minute plans, the weekend wasn’t as bad as some people had feared. Many wondered if high holiday prices, long minimum-stay requirements and Y2K fears would combine to make the weekend a bust. With the lack of snow for the season, many who planned to come for the weekend made other plans.

As lodging reservations failed to fill up, properties lowered their expectations.

Fantasy Inn began with a three-night minimum. “As time went on, we relaxed that a little,” CaroleAnne Johnson said.

“Reservations were down from what they thought it would be,” she said. “With walk-ins, we did really, really well. We ended up turning people away the entire weekend.”

Heavenly Tahoe Vacations, which requires prepayment with reservations, also had a good weekend.

“We really did quite well,” Reservations Manager Gail Thompson said. “We were happy that we were able to maintain the reservations we had on the books. We had very few early departures and virtually no one canceled reservations.

“We had a few refund requests on the lift ticket portion (of the lodging packages) but not one for lodging.”

According to Pete Mac Roberts, president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association and manager of Viking Motor Lodge, the holiday was a mixed bag.

“I’m hearing that New Year’s Eve was good financially but the days preceding it were grim,” he said. “On Saturday, people left because of lack of snow. Many left on the first to get home. Without skiing, they felt they’d rather go home and recuperate.”

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