Huge winter tourism week starts today

A skier does a trick at Whiteface Mountain in December 2018. (Provided photo — ORDA)

LAKE PLACID — Presidents Day may mean a three-day weekend to some, but to folks in this area, it’s a booming week of winter tourism.

This coming week is winter break for many schools, and Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO and President Jim McKenna said the holiday business traffic lasts all week. Other than Christmas, he said Presidents Day is the best holiday for winter resorts across the country.

“The wintertime accounts for 30 percent of our annual tourism, and Presidents Day is a big portion of that,” McKenna said.

He said ski centers such as Whiteface in Wilmington, Titus in Malone and Pisgah in Saranac Lake will all feel the effects.

Alpine skiing may be one of the biggest draws, but not the only one.

“You’ve also got a lot of people just coming up for the day to snowmobile, or hike, or go skating on Mirror Lake,” McKenna said.

Most rooms will be filled

In terms of lodging, McKenna said Lake Placid and the surrounding areas won’t reach maximum capacity, but it tends to get pretty close.

“It’s a little hard to get a handle on the number because we don’t know exactly how many people are staying at vacation rentals, but with hotels and motels, the area can take in about 15,000 people,” he said. “We’ll probably be around 12,000 to 14,000 people this weekend.”

Peter Holderied, who runs the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort and is also a Lake Placid village trustee, said Presidents Day is always a great week for the hospitality industry. He said his hotel “will be at 80 percent (capacity) throughout the week and 100 percent on the two weekends,” he said. “It’s right up there with Christmas for successful weeks, if not better.”

Holderied also agreed it’s not just the three-day weekend but the whole week that draws people to the North Country.

“Anywhere south of Albany, kids are out of school,” he said. “So we get a lot of downstate and Jersey kids coming up for the week.”

Whiteface gears up

Last year before Presidents Day Monday, Whiteface attracted 6,500 ski and snowboarders that Saturday and 6,000 that Sunday — record numbers. General Manager Aaron Kellet is hoping to break records again this year.

“We’re anticipating some awesome weather throughout the week,” he said. “Not all of the mountain is open, but all of the peaks are and a majority of the terrain is.”

For a weekend like this, Kellet said it’s all hands on deck for Whiteface staff.

“We’re lucky to have competent and knowledgeable employees that want to go above and beyond for the guest,” he said.

Van Ho, too

At the Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross Country and Biathlon Center, manager Kris Cheney-Seymour said the Nordic ski trails are in the best condition they’ve been all season.

“We’ve got all 50 kilometers of trails open, and it should be fantastic skiing all around,” he said.

Cheney-Seymour said the influx of skiers extends past the three-day weekend.

“A lot of school districts in the Northeast, excluding Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, will have a week off,” he said. “So we’ll be busy starting this Saturday through the following Sunday.”

President’s weekend weather forecast

¯Friday: Snow and rain showers, high 38, low 18

¯Saturday: Partly sunny, high 24, low 6

¯Sunday: Mostly sunny, high 21, low 4

¯Presidents Day: Partly sunny, high 20, low 2