By Mark S. Kenna
May 27, 2013. This Memorial Day weekend brought tourism to the High Country, filling up hotels in Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Boone at the last minute.
Even though most of the hotels reached 100 percent occupancy Saturday and Sunday night, the flow of customers compared to past years was unorthodox.
“We’re usually booked two months in advance,” said Jessica Smith, general manager at the Village Inn in Blowing Rock. This year, she said many people waited until the last minute to book a room.
This trend was apparent in other hotels in Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Boone.
“The majority of our business on Saturday was from walk-ins,” said Leeanna Sparks, front office manager of The Best Western Plus Mountain Lodge in Banner Elk, which had more reservations during the previous Memorial Day weekend.
Unlike last year, the Holiday Inn Express in Boone could accommodate the walk-ins it had, night auditor, Chris Phillips said.
“We would have had to turn more people away last year,” Phillips said.
Some hotels, like The Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock, experienced better business this year.
“We saw a considerable increase from this year to last year,” human resources clerk, Kristin Hill said. Hill speculated that a Groupon special, something the hotel had never done before, could be the cause of this increase.
The trend for Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends is that the hotels will be fully occupied on Saturday and Sunday, and softer on Friday, said Ben McKethan, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott in Boone off N.C. 105.
“It’s all about value,” McKethan said. “A lot of people realize that they can get a room for cheaper on a Sunday night versus Friday night, it’s typical to see two night stays.”