Shoulder season is upon us |

Shoulder season is upon us

Sure, September isn’t August ” when the promise of hot temperatures, summer vacation and events galore fill hotel rooms and hangout spots around Truckee and Lake Tahoe.

But the fall, known as the shoulder season, should not be underestimated, or undervalued.

To those in the know, September is the area’s best kept secret. It’s often warm enough to enjoy the outdoors most of the day, although anticipated temperature drops might prompt more hot-beverage consumption.

“We are finding that fall is a great time (for tourism) because the weather is cooperative and it’s a time that really appeals to empty nesters,” said Andy Chapman, Director of Tourism at the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “We have found real success with this time of year, thought we don’t see that same success in the spring.”

It’s less crowded in autumn and hotel rates drop. Some decrease by as much as 20 percent, said Pat Ronan, who runs the Lakeshore Lodge and serves on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority board.

“June is like September. May is like November. This September we’re about even with last year, and that’s fine. Losing is what we don’t want to do,” Ronan said.

Authority Executive Director Patrick Kaler said this September appears “great for lodging properties,” with weekenders dominating the visitation.

Restaurants are less likely to advertise off-season specials, Chapman said, but many eateries offer deals to locals.

Although it has become more narrow each year, the shoulder season lures a mature crowd, many of whom make up childless couples. Romance fills the air, as these lovebirds stroll the empty trails and take a seat at quiet restaurants.

For Patty Brissenden, who co-owns Sorensens Resort, this year seems to be on track. October weekends have filled up the Hope Valley resort, a hot spot for leaf lovers and other foliage observers.

“We’re having a great summer and strong fall,” she said. It’s a departure from a few years ago when tourism fell to the point that she and her husband John beefed up marketing efforts to get people traveling.

The Brissendens have noticed seniors fill their resort in the fall. Many plan their vacations at a time when they know children have gone back to school, which now falls halfway in August for some districts.

“These people need to reset their clocks. Older couples don’t need to wait for the traditional ‘after Labor Day’ vacation,” she said.

To maintain their place in the competitive tourism business, the Brissendens schedule a host of fall events. Many focus on viewing the fall colors.

Organizers have quickly learned the support they get when holding events in the off season.

Eleven years ago, former physical education teacher Les Wright decided to run a marathon event. He specifically scheduled it in October for a few reasons ” to close the road, seize on the fall colors and take advantage of a cooler season. The event has gained such popularity that 20 athletic events comprise the Lake Tahoe Marathon week from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1 this year.

” The Sierra Sun’s Christine Stanley contributed to this report.

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