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Warm Welcome and Pie

by Dave Yanko

A very warm welcome to you. Thanks for dropping in to our little corner of the interweb.

What does it mean when Saskatchewan's provincial parks hit a new high in visitation? Frankly, I don't know, but I suspect good summer weather and a buoyant economy had something to do with the 3.37 million visits in 2011. And I also suspect more records will be broken once people become accustomed to using the new online reservation system launching Mar. 12 (you can test drive it beginning Mar. 1).

Congratulations to Saskatchewan Parks for bringing us into the 21st Century. This seems to be a great system (see story and video demo here). Not only does it allow you to see photographs of your prospective campsite before you book it - no more finding out on arrival you're booked in beside the mosquito bog or a wide open spruce site instead of cozy aspen one - it also allows you to book and pay for your reservation on your desktop computer or smartphone. Like the video says, it works pretty much like a hotel reservation website.

I have a couple of small concerns, like, what is the cancellation policy if you want to opt out of your long-weekend booking? Or, will people booking two-week vacations in March result in too few good sites remaining for those unable to put their dibs in that early? I imagine young people - young workers or students - may feel the greatest impact here. And will SaskParks web servers be able to handle the inevitable whack of button pushers trying to book before May or July long? How much more will we be paying in park entrance and camping fees to cover the cost and operation of this system in years ahead? Guess we'll find out.

I think our parks are about to get a lot busier. Once the inevitable bugs are ironed out of this new system I suspect many folks will get online early to book a weekend, a week or two weeks at their favourite park. I'm guessing people will learn to book early and take their chances on weather and other variables rather than chance seeing a "no vacancy'' sign by booking too late. . .

Weather is of more concern to tenters than those who use tent trailers or RVs, of course. It's even less of a practical concern to those who rent cabins at resorts - you can usually at least get to your spot, even if deck and beach time are limited. One thing's for sure: you won't book a nice cabin at a popular resort if you don't do it well in advance of summer. In fact, you're already too late for the best spots, which typically book one year or more in advance. If you're considering a summer vacation at a Saskatchewan resort in 2012, I suggest you act now. I can help you through my "Ask Dave'' free service, but there's nothing I can do but offer lesser alternatives when popular resorts are booked up. . .

By the time you read this, Saskatchewan may be experiencing winter weather. But as I write it, we're not. To the chagrin of all those smart folks who've learned the best way to deal with winter is to embrace it - I'm not one of them - there's no snow. I'm sure the winter festivals will go ahead as planned and cross-country and downhill skiers/snowboarders will have their day, as will my friends who offer sled-dog experiences. For the time being, however, it's fall jackets, cycling and skate boarding. . .

While I doubt the large spa/hotel complexes in Moose Jaw and Manitou Beach are threatened by it, the new spa at Saskatoon's venerable Delta Bessborough Hotel is a nice addition to visitor amenities in Saskatchewan's largest city (pop. ~235,000).

"The spa offers hot stone and therapeutic massage, body treatments, teeth whitening, exclusive anti-aging treatments, and all esthetics. In addition to services for women, the spa features several options for men and children, '' says the news release.

Toon Towners might want to note Damara Day Spa (disclosure: no pecuniary interest) is open to locals, as well. . .

That's it for now. Why not kick back, grab yourself a piece of virtual saskatoon berry pie and check out our recent story about The Town of Wolseley. Or maybe just click on over the our archives and see what catches your eye. Cheers!

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