"We love the start of camping season."
That is how Shaun Harbottle, owner of Crescent Beach Cottages (CBC) at West Hawk Lake describes this time of year. Harbottle says these are busy days for him getting the store stocked, the cottages ready and staff hired for another season at the lake.
But Harbottle admits, things have changed over the last twenty years. Though May long weekend is typically busy for them, Harbottle says it isn't like the good old days. He says there are more activities and opportunities today that keep people from heading to the lake. On top of that, he says the May long weekend liquor ban at provincial campgrounds hurts their business.
"I think the time of the liquor ban has to come to an end at some point only because times have changed," he says.
All provincial campgrounds will be open by the end of Friday. According to Harbottle, the mood is upbeat right now amongst campers and cottagers.
"Everybody you talk to is in a good mood, they are back out, got the tents, the RV's are out," he says. "In general I think everybody is pretty happy to be back outdoors in Manitoba again."
Harbottle says lake levels are good. Though water levels on West Hawk Lake are a little low, he's not hearing many complaints.
"From a year ago when we had forest fires going on, it's a huge difference," he says. "Compared to last year we're very happy with the way things are going."
Harbottle says when it comes to May long weekend, weather is the single biggest factor in what business will be like. May long weekend can be sunny or snowy and Harbottle says though cottagers will head to the lake no matter what the forecast calls for, the same can't be said for campers. Yet, he says for him the process of getting ready for the May long weekend is no different whether it is wet or dry, hot or cold.
Crescent Beach Cottages is made up of cottages, a motel, small convenience store and gas station. Harbottle says there are a lot of fuel sales right now with boaters getting back on the water and cottagers needing gas to fuel their lawnmowers.
For Harbottle, he says after a very poor winter of snowmobiling, it is great to get the camping season kicked off and to see familiar faces again.
"Seeing people you haven't seen all winter," he says. "You get to grow relationships over the years and see the same people back and see them with kids in hand and from the kids having kids again. It's very nice to see everybody back."