Spring break isn’t so quiet

Usual lull isn’t happening, Lake Placid business owners say

Cars drive down Main Street, Lake Placid, on March 22. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Spring break is here, and instead of the usual empty streets, Lake Placid’s business district is bustling — just as it has been for most of the last year.

There’s usually a lull in tourism at this time of year — so much so that some of Lake Placid’s business owners choose to close up shop entirely and take vacations, and the local school district takes a full two weeks off for spring break. Despite the lack of large events right now amid the coronavirus pandemic, this season has proven different.

Even mid-week — on Thursday afternoon — dozens of visitors could be seen walking up and down the Main Street shopping district, taking in the view of Mirror Lake at Mid’s Park, waiting for coffee outside of Starbucks or perusing the book selection at Bookstore Plus. The entrance of the Olympic Center was also busy with visitors, despite construction happening there.

“We’re way busy,” said Adirondack Popcorn owner Mary Fry. “We’re as busy as we were in July.

“Notoriously, the two weeks of spring break are slow. This is completely crazy,” she added. “We’ll take it. It’s a good thing.”

Heather LePere, owner of The Breakfast Club, said her restaurant has seen a steady flow of business, too — though she noted that weekends are normally busy anyway.

“We’ve definitely had more people here mid-week,” she said. “The good news is we’re staying busy and we’re able to do what we do as safely as possible.”

Last year, there was concern among Lake Placid’s business owners that the usual peak summer tourism season wouldn’t happen because of the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of large sporting events like the Ironman triathlon. But the village was still busy come July and August as more and more visitors decided on a destination that wouldn’t require air travel for their summer vacations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is still advising against travel, even for vaccinated people, but Lake Placid continues to be a popular rubber-tire vacation destination during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The impression I’m getting is that a lot of people are looking for somewhere they can drive,” said LePere. “People who would normally fly somewhere warm for their spring break are looking for somewhere to go.

“I guess that’s a plus side of the pandemic,” she added.

“I think it’s just because people booked vacations before they opened up travel,” Fry said. “People planned on going on spring break here so they wouldn’t have to quarantine.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month that starting April 1, domestic travelers would no longer be required to quarantine when entering New York state, though the state Department of Health is still advising that people quarantine as a precaution.

Fry said a lot of the customers she’s spoken to have chosen to rent Airbnbs in Lake Placid.

That doesn’t mean hotels aren’t busy, however. Sierra Brewster, reservation manager for the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, said the hotel is currently at between 85 to 95% capacity on the weekends. Brewster noted that a portion of the hotel’s rooms are under construction.

“Occupancy is definitely higher than it normally is,” she said. “We’re sold out almost every weekend through March and April. Without hockey, that isn’t normal.”

For many of the people coming to stay, it’s their first time ever traveling to Lake Placid, according to Brewster.

“A lot of the people coming up now are first-time travelers,” she said. “There’s a lot more people from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. The majority of people coming up are first-time visitors.”

Fry said the same.

“I’ve had a lot of customers come here and say they’ve never been here before,” she said. “I think it’s great in the long run. It helps. We don’t have the events, so it’s nice to not lose that momentum of Lake Placid being a great place to go.”

(Correction: An earlier version of this article inaccurately identified the owner of The Breakfast Club. The Enterprise regrets the error.)


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