Presidents Day weekend: A great success |

Presidents Day weekend: A great success

Nick Cruit/Sierra SunNorthstar-at-Tahoe lift operator Jorge Cibills ushers skiers and riders onto the lifts Presidents Day afternoon. With California's "ski skate week" and the Winter Dew Tour coming this weekend, Northstar officials expect skier visits and business to remain strong throughout the week.

In the middle of a winter tourist season suffocated by a troubled economy, a breath of life reinvigorated local businesses this weekend as a combination of Valentines Day, Presidents Day and a whole lot of snow have ski resorts and restaurants praising the perfect storm. A series of winter storms during the past week dumped multiple feet of snow on the upper mountain slopes of Sierra ski resorts, and as forecasts show, its not done yet. Alpine Meadows Ski Resort boasted more than 13 feet of snow on their upper mountain slopes during the last 12 days, according to Alpines spokeswoman Rachael Woods.Impressive is an understatement when describing this Februarys snowfall, Woods said. The month of February is typically when Alpine Meadows receives the most snow; and that pattern has been upheld.And in terms of skier visits, the snow couldnt have come at a better time. February is a popular month with vacationers, and business levels have been very strong, Woods added. The parking lots have been consistently full, if not at capacity.In some cases, the winter storms blew in with such impressive accumulations that it likely kept a few holiday travelers away. Such was the setting at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort where more than five feet of snow was reported by Monday. The resulting scenario was a perfect balance of incredible powder skiing with reasonable crowds, no huge lift lines, but enough people to deliver the holiday weekend party atmosphere, said Sugar Bowls director of marketing John Monson. That said, skier visits over the weekend did not surpass the Christmas or New Years holidays a similar scenario in which heavy winter storms attracted a slew of skier visits but did, however, outdo Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, resort officials reported. Skier visit wise, we had more skiers on Christmas and New Years, but less on MLK Jr. weekend, so were holding on pretty well, said Diamond Peaks marketing coordinator Kayla Anderson.Still, the snow that might have kept timid travelers at bay was not enough to deter the masses. And neither weather nor resort visitation is likely to slow down just yet. After a brief window of mostly clear skies Wednesday through Friday, more snow is expected Friday night into early next week, according the National Weather Service. And with the snow coinciding with ski skate week a mid-winter break for California schools resort officials anticipate the slopes remaining full all week. A lot of people had a pent up demand for snow, so it works out very well, said Jessica VanPernis, Northstars communications manager.And while VanPernis hopes the weather will add to the seven feet of snow Northstar has received at high elevations over the past week, a brief window of clear skies would be nice for their upcoming Winter Dew Tour, she said. The snow will help the Dew Tour; however, it would be best for the events if there was a short break in precipitation, VanPernis said. Snow tends to make it hard for riders and skiers to carry speed through the courses.

But resorts didnt hoard all the business over the weekend. Restaurant owners and managers said they got their fair share of guests in search of a romantic Valentines Day experience.Valentines Day was a booming success for us, said Douglas Dale, owner of Wolfdales in Tahoe City. It was the perfect storm of Presidents Day, Valentines Day, a Saturday and the snow, he added.And though Dale reportedly served 160 dinners, and had to turn away another 50 people because of how crowded it was. The air of a troubled economy still lingered in the restaurant, he said.We are truly seeing and feeling the economic times we live in, he said. People are splitting bills, ordering less expensive foods, ordering wine by the glass instead of by the bottle. But theyre still going out. And When times are tough, people like to commiserate together.But while the snow was a factor that helped drive tourists into Tahoe for the weekend and into restaurants for Valentines Day, it did put a damper on some restaurants.At the Soule Domain near Crystal Bay, manager Steve Soule said there were a surprising amount of people that had made reservations, left a credit card number, and never showed up something he attributed to the intense snow over the weekend. And though Soule said there were enough walk-ins to fill the voids left on Saturday night, Sunday did not live up to expectations. What was supposed to be a huge night (Sunday) ended up slightly above average, he said. Nevertheless, Soule said the weekends business went pretty well top to bottom.

Managers of other restaurants around the North Shore and Truckee commented on the big event, snow-filled weekend: We had a rocking weekend. Valentines Day was an awesome night, said Nicole Beckering, manager of Pianeta Ristorante in Truckee.Everything went very well; it was a great success, said Clint Peetz, assistant restaurant manager at the Lone Eagle Grill in Incline Village. Saturday night was big, said Jeff Hill, service manager at Sunnyside Steakhouse andamp; Lodge in Tahoe City. Both the dinning room and the bar were filled with people.

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