Ski resorts stay busy at reduced capacity
By Sierra McGivney
This summer, the Adirondacks and especially the High Peaks area was busy. But the cold weather and ice have not put the freeze on visitors coming to the area.
Especially during holidays like Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day winter break, places like Lake Placid and Old Forge have continued to see an influx of tourists during a global pandemic.
James McKenna, the President/CEO of Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), works on destination marketing across the Adirondack region. According to McKenna, the number of people traveling to the Adirondacks has remained pretty steady since the summer.
“I think [the Martin Luther King Weekend] wasn’t at peak capacity but some people felt that it was a little more activity than they anticipated,” said McKenna. “We anticipate as more vaccines come into the whole country or even into northeastern New York state that there will be a steady increase in travel. Moving forward, we feel there’s quite a bit of pent up demand,” he added.
Ski resorts open at reduced capacity
Ski resorts like Whiteface, Titus and Gore have been able to manage the winter tourism season with capacity limitations and COVID-19 protocols. (Click here for a closer look at what each resort is doing this season.)
According to Elise Ruocco, the Marketing Manager at Whiteface at Whiteface, said the restrictions have resulted in an leveling out of attendance, with no crowded lodges or long lift lines.
“It was probably one of our quieter Presidents Day weekends we’ve ever had,” she said, adding that the resort sold out of lift tickets throughout the week. “So instead of being super busy on the weekends and kind of really slow during the week it’s been more consistent, day to day.”
Visitors flock to Old Forge
Working from home and flexible work schedules have caused the influx of visitors being able to ski during the week and not overload the mountain on the weekends. Over in Old Forge the same thing is happening.
McCauley Mountain ski resort and snowmobiling trails are two big magnets for tourism in the area. According to Michael Farmer, Town of Webb publicity director, snowmobiling trails are buzzing on a daily basis.
“We have three dozen trails of varying lengths that loop and intersect over almost 500 square miles and those trails, on our system, access New York State trails in every direction. We have the infrastructure here to accommodate thousands of snowmobilers,” said Farmer.
At McCauley Mountain, Presidents Day week has been the biggest week of the season so far. McCauley Mountain has sold two and a half times the number of season passes this winter. They even suspended sales on season passes, in order to keep numbers down and switched to online ticket sales.
“We have more weekday business but we’ve had several very big weekends. As soon as people see snow on the news forecast they’re coming,” said Farmer
New this year, McCauley developed a 15-kilometer cross-country network and snowshoe trails to spread people out.
McCauley also keeps track of all the visitors coming in by having skiers text a designated number, the names of everyone in the group, their address and their phone numbers. Farmer as a skier himself has a great routine for remembering to wear his mask while waiting in the lift line. When he goes to the lift googles up, mask up. When he gets off the lift google down, mask down.
“We’re finding it takes constant reminders for people and they’re not trying to be bad.” said Farmer. “They get all caught up. You know, skiers are fun loving social people and they just forget.”