The waterfront view from the Cariboo Bonanza Resort including one of their cabins and the pier. (Photo submitted)

Resorts enjoy a busier than expected summer

Several resorts say they experienced a steadily busy tourism season despite COVID-19

A tourism campaign to encourage British Columbians to vacation in the province this summer seems to have paid off for local resorts in the South Cariboo.

Several resorts say they experienced a steadily busy tourism season despite COVID-19, with many people visiting the area for the first time – and promising to come back. Ruth Lake Lodge Resort, which stays open all year, is already booking cabins for the winter and the Cariboo Bonanza Resort is lining up several reservations for the summer of 2021.

“A lot of our guests who came this year really enjoyed themselves and mentioned that they’d like to come back next year so I think we’ll still have a good year in 2021,” said France Robert, co-owner/operator of Ruth Lake Lodge Resort. “We had maybe two or three bookings from out of province, everything else was from British Columbia.”

Operators say they appreciated the local business from B.C. tourists, especially with the rough start to the year and the necessary COVID-19 protocols in place. Many resorts saw cancellations once the initial restrictions on travel were in place, but bookings improved as the summer went on, despite the added safety precautions.

At Fawn Lake Resort, the new measures included having guests fill out a questionnaire, limiting the use of public washrooms to only guests in cabins with no built-in plumbing and assigning an outhouse per camping site. As the showers weren’t widely available, owner Irene Meili said this meant campers had to take a dip in the lake. They also had to limit visitors to the resort, which made things a little less social then it usually would be.

READ MORE: District sees drop in revenue as fewer visitors hit town

While business wasn’t “skyrocketing,” Meili said given the conditions it’s been a good summer and believes the overall interest in the area has increased. While they lost international guests from Europe and the U.S., for instance, they gained them locally.

Some guests also expressed initial concerns the resort wouldn’t be up to their standards, she said but “I guess we proved them wrong. They came back and said it’s so nice because it’s so quiet. They found something completely new.”

“We had guests from all over B.C. from Armstrong, the Okanagan, Vancouver – all people who were new to the area and were forced to spend their summer in B.C.”

Meili added most of their regulars showed up as well. “We have a lot of repeat guests and we call them our Fawn Lake family, it’s really nice.”

Fawn Lake Resort will remain open until just after Thanksgiving, closing slightly early to build two new cabins for the resort. Meili anticipates 2021 will be similar to this year and until a vaccine emerges, they’ll be playing it safe.

At Cariboo Bonanza Resort, the cabins were “practically full” from July through to the end of September, while camping was also busy but dropped off somewhat after the labour day weekend.

Jennifer Sprecher was expected to take over management of the resort this year from her parents Bruno and Dora but didn’t due to COVID-19 shortstaffing. She said she is looking forward to closing as it has been a busy season.

“This September was better than last year’s September,” said Sprecher, who has lived and worked at the resort all her life and will run the resort with her boyfriend Marcel Wehrli. “We had very few (guests) from Alberta, but otherwise a lot from B.C. and especially in May and June – a lot of families we’ve never had here before who’ve never really been to the area and they say they want to come back.”

At the 108 Golf Resort, the RV campground was more popular than the indoor rooms this year, as people liked having their own space, said general manager Lee Hansen. Most of their guests this year were from B.C., he said, and say they plan to come back. The resort, which provides golf, horseback riding, a restaurant and an outdoor pool, was fairly quiet until the province moved into Phase Three of its opening plan.

“After that, we were actually quite busy with the golf, everybody felt safe to be out there and we gave everyone their own carts so they didn’t have to pair up,” Hansen said. “August we actually broke records for golfers and people staying at the resort.”

The resort plans to close its restaurant for the winter, but Hansen is hopeful that if fewer people travel during the winter, the season might return to normal next summer.

“It was definitely a weird season and I think being green coming in as general manager was a good learning curve,” Hansen said.

In the last three months, some 11,079 tourists visited the South Cariboo Visitor Centre.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jennifer Sprecher and Marcel Wehrli are the future managers of Cariboo Bonanza Resort on the behalf of her parents and owners Bruno and Dora. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

School District 27 Supt. Chris van der Mark. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19 takes bite out of SD27 enrolment

Fewer students at schools, but homeschooling up

Kaiden Davidson (centre) smiles as he uses a fire hose with the help of his dad Dustin Davidson and Forest Grove firefighter Andrew Grey. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Fun and fire safety at Forest Grove

Fire safety took centre stage at the Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department’s open house Saturday.

RCMP
Lockdown drill at Peter Skene Ogden

Police staged three scenarios with students and staff

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

100 Mile RCMP Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen. (Patrick Davies photo, 100 Mile Free Press).
RCMP responded to 212 calls in first two weeks of October

B&Es, bears and mischief on the list of reports

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Jordan Naterer, an electrical engineer from Vancouver, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. (Facebook photo)
Search efforts to resume for missing Manning Park hiker; Trudeau speaks on case

PM says he’ll do what he can to ‘nudge’ efforts to find Jordan Naterer, yet has little leverage locally

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
B.C. records first COVID-19 outbreak at school, six weeks after students return to class

Three cases of the virus have been identified at École de L’Anse-au-sable

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Most Read