Manitoba

Yurts, cabins fill up quickly as Manitoba Parks opens bookings for the season

People still waiting to book a yurt for this summer may already be out of luck as most of them were snapped up within the first hour of provincial park booking Monday morning.

Most yurts snapped up within 1st hour

Manitoba Parks bookings for yurts, cabins and group use areas opened on Monday. (@MBGovParks/Twitter)

People still waiting to book a yurt for this summer may already be out of luck as most of them were snapped up within the first hour of provincial park booking Monday morning.

The province opened up booking for this camping season at 7 a.m., when people logging into the booking site were given a number representing their spot in line to make a reservation.

In past years, there have been issues with the website crashing from demand.

This year, the province further staggered when sites can be booked, with reservations for only yurts, cabins and group use areas opening Monday — but that did not prevent many people from waiting online behind thousands of others looking to book spots and facing disappointment when their turn finally came.

"It just seems like you have no shot of getting a site, unless you get very, very lucky," said John Coward, who with his wife and other friends attempted to book multiple yurts at Tulabi Falls in September. They all came up empty handed.

Coward and his wife, using separate computers, both logged in at 7 a.m. Although they refreshed the page seconds after it opened, Coward's wife got a spot around 1,600, while Coward was around 2,100.

That wasn't bad compared to previous years, he said.

"So we were hopeful, but by the time that we got in, there was nothing left at Tulabi, period, for the entire year, other than like individual days here and there. So that was a little bit disappointing."

Among the changes introduced this year, people who want to book a yurt or a cabin can only make two reservations at a time, instead of three.

As well, people can only book a maximum stay of seven nights at a yurt or cabin, down from 14.

More than 5,800 reservations had been made by shortly after 11 a.m. Monday morning, the province said in a statement to CBC News.

There were nearly 7,400 users logged in at 7 a.m. and after 7:42 a.m. there were no longer any users waiting in line. 

More than 90 per cent of available nights for cabins and yurts have been reserved, the province said. 

The province advises people to check back during the summer for cancellations.

Coward suspects many people book times they don't really want, simply because they get in before all remaining available nights are booked and cancellation fees aren't high enough to deter them.

"I'm not saying that necessarily, you know, bumping up cancellation fees is the answer, but I think it is a potential answer," he said.

Campsites in Birds Hill Provincial Park, Falcon Beach, Falcon Lakeshore and West Hawk Lake campgrounds open on  Wednesday, followed by all western and northern provincial park campgrounds on Friday.

Bookings for campgrounds in Grand Beach, Nopiming and the rest of Whiteshell Provincial Park become available on April 11. All remaining provincial park campgrounds will open to reservations on April 13.

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson and Cameron MacLean

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