By MICHELLE MONROE,
NORTH HERO – Lodging providers across the Islands are gearing up for a busy summer. With COVID-19 restrictions lifting as more and more people are vaccinated, local businesses say they are rapidly filling up.
At the Anchorage in South Hero reservations for May are 43 percent ahead of May 2019 and June reservations are 17 percent ahead of 2019, said Dave Morrissette, who owns the business with his wife, Melissa.
With a busy season looming, the Anchorage is finishing up renovations on three cabins and just broke ground on a new cabin, which Morrissette said he hopes to have open before the Lake Champlain International’s annual Father’s Day Derby.
For ten weekends this summer, the existing cabins are already full, and the Anchorage has a waiting list of people ready to rent the new cabin once it’s complete. The first of those full weekends is just two weeks away.
The Anchorage isn’t alone. At Goose Point Campground in Alburgh, which opened May 1, there are very few sites left, according to Pauline Beyor, who owns the campground with her husband, Gordon.
“People are in a hurry to get out of their houses,” Beyor said.
The RV park is also seeing a number of people who haven’t camped at Goose Point before. That coincides with an increase in RV sales. “Places that are selling trailers are out of trailers,” Beyor said.
“If the weather holds out, it’ll be good,” she said of the upcoming season. One concern for her is the level of the lake. Most of Goose Point’s campers own boats, she said, so the water level needs to be high enough for boating to bring people to the campground.
Jason Hanny, general manager at Shore Acres Inn and Restaurant in North Hero, said, “We are getting bombarded with bookings for both the inn and restaurant.”
He described the tourist season as “raring to go.”
“We’re getting people from all over the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and even as far as the Mid-West. People not only want to get out, but are,” said Hanny.
Joanne Batchelder at Holiday Harbor Lodge was a little more cautious in her optimism. “We’re hoping to have a good summer,” she said.
“We have a loyal clientele that comes back year after year,” Batchelder said. “It seems like this year, people will come back.”
With just 12 rooms, the Holiday Harbor Lodge caters primarily to anglers, who rent rooms by the week.
Like Beyor, Batchelder is anticipating that people “want to get out after COVID.”
Because they rent cabins, the Anchorage was able to be fully open for the second half of 2020, and actually exceeded 2019 numbers from July to December, said Morrissette. “People wanted to be in that setting,” he said of the Anchorage’s cabins.
But there were differences. The dining room was mostly closed and the lodge little used. Morrissette said he is looking forward to serving guests breakfast once again and having the chance to speak with guests and get to know them.
Although a bit daunted by the work that needs to get done before the season kicks off in mid-May, Morrissette said, “It is exciting.”