Sunday, September 02, 2007

Resorts Win in Gas Crunch

High gas prices are having a somewhat surprising impact at some Central Minnesota resorts.

It's attracting closer-to-home business instead of keeping families away.

That, combined with an early spring and a declining number of resorts for families to choose from, has kept business brisk this year at some area resorts.

The same was true a year ago, according to a survey about the 2006 season done by the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association.

Some resorts even saw an increase in boat rentals this summer among guests who wanted to avoid the expense of towing their own boat.

Jim DeRose, operator of Riverside Resort on the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes near Richmond, said high gas prices may reduce the distance vacationers are willing to travel. But that's a good thing because of the location of his resort.

But those reasons are having the opposite impact on business at Red Barn Resort in Sauk Centre.

Owner Dale Johnson's experience is more like the 22 percent of resort owners in the survey that said business started to slow last year and worsened this year because of gas prices.

His business is down 60-70 percent because it relies on out-of-state travelers. His largest customer base is families from Kansas City.

"Gas prices affect families, and families are what resorts are about," he said.
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