Dick Barron, director of SkiOps for [R354R, Seven Springs Resort] in Pennsylvania, sees signs of customers staying East rather than flying West.

"I'm hearing from our customers that they plan to spend more time on local skiing rather than taking trips West," Barron said. "With the economy and gas prices, they're planning on more time at local areas such as us vs. Western trips."

Barron said Seven Springs holiday bookings are tangible evidence to support this anecdotal observation.

The resort's beds - numbering in the thousands - were booked strongly through New Year's.

Barron said Seven Springs tries to nurture the interest with early season lodging and lift ticket deals, and then offers various deals through the season.

"Even before the holidays, we saw a lot of skier and rider interest. That's probably related to a good early start and good early snow, which also helped with strong early season pass sales, which were up over past years. We closed weekdays for a couple of weeks, then opened full-time going into the holidays.

"Even when the weather wasn't good, the weekend before Christmas, we were pleasantly surprised by ticket counts," he said.

Barron said the early snow and cold was followed by fluctuating conditions.

"We were on the borderline of early storms. It's 1 degree one day, with a minus 28 windchill, and a couple days later it will be 40 and raining. Our strategy is to do as much as possible to make snow and improve conditions when the temperature allows, to fight those fluctuations," he said.