PLAINS TOWNSHIP -- New Year’s Eve celebrations are getting underway and at the Woodlands Inn and Resort near Wilkes-Barre, they say the party will roll on despite increased competition and a liquor license in limbo.
More than 100 workers are busy blowing up balloons and cooking up treats like hot beef tips to prepare for the big New Year's Eve.
Justin Hoppes of Mahanoy City is one of hundreds who bought a $75 ticket for the open bar and buffet.
"It’s nice being with family, but sometimes you got to change it up. We thought we’d come up here. We’ve been up here before already but never for the holidays."
Hotel operations manager Ross Kornfeld says people don't go out for New Year's Eve like they used to when the Woodlands first started hosting the holiday party 45 years ago.
"2014 will be a very challenging year, no question about it."
All 150 hotel rooms at the Woodlands Inn and Resort sold out three weeks ago. Managers tell us that they are now battling some fierce competition about a mile up Route 315.
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs opened its own hotel last month right next to the casino. Officials say all 238 rooms at the new hotel are booked for New Year's Eve.
"They’re the big boys in town,” said Kornfeld. "We are friendly, though we are competitors. They have restaurants, they have bars, same thing."
But the biggest battle could be in the courtroom. In October, a Luzerne County judge ruled that the Woodlands should get to keep its liquor license even though the state liquor control board voted not to renew it. Now the state agency is appealing, asking a higher court to decide whether the Woodlands should lose its license because of past violations.
"We sell a lot of liquor, no doubt about it, weddings, parties,” said Kornfeld. If we had to become a BYOB, who knows what it would do but it would not be good."
Kornfeld says the Woodlands is focused on the big party and workers will tackle those other challenges in the new year.