MONTPELIER — Following a snowless Christmas with temperatures in the 60s, Northeast ski resorts are hoping to make up some of their losses during the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Snow is finally covering the mountainous parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, with more to come this weekend. Sustained cold also has allowed resorts to continually make snow. The industry hopes the pent-up demand to get to the slopes will make for a busy holiday weekend.
With recent snowfall, more snow in the forecast and ideal temperatures for snowmaking, most of the big resorts will have half to more than 80 percent of their terrain open for the long weekend.
Vermont was seeing light snow and sleet on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, while Maine and New Hampshire were getting mostly snow — heavier in the Portland area and lighter in New Hampshire. Meteorologist Eric Schwibs says a weaker storm system is forecast for Monday, with possible light snow accumulations across the region.
The Boston Ski and Sports Club almost had to cancel a trip to Maine's Sugarloaf this weekend because not enough people had signed up, but that changed this week with the recent cold and snow in southern New England, said the club's Randy Friedman.
"I think the skiers are anxious to go; they want to go," he said.
That pent-up demand from a slow start to the season is definitely helping MLK bookings, said Sarah Wojcik, spokeswoman for Ski Vermont.
Hotels and condominiums are filling up this week at major resorts. The Killington Grand Hotel was essentially full for the weekend and condos were filling daily, while the 96-room Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, was sold out for Saturday.
"We're actually a little busier than we were last year for this coming Martin Luther King weekend," said Ryan Krukar, director of lodging and marketing at Trapp Family Lodge. Most lodging properties in the Lincoln and Woodstock, New Hampshire, area near Loon Mountain were reporting this week that they were 85-100 percent full for the weekend.
Holiday weekend in numbers
The MLK weekend is one of three important holidays for Northeast resorts to draw in skiers and riders; the others are the week from Christmas to New Year's, and the President's Day holiday weekend in February. The MLK weekend is a smaller holiday than the other two, but "this year obviously there's greater importance due to the slow business with the early Christmas holiday," said Wojcik, of Ski Vermont.
On average, the weekend brings in 5 to 10 percent of Vermont resorts' total business for the season, according to Ski Vermont.