MAINE, USA — Maine's small businesses are struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. Countless vacations have been forced to be cancelled and postponed, putting a major strain on the state's lodging industry.
"As soon as it was labeled a pandemic, the reservations stopped coming in," Aaron Sprague, owner of Acadia Yurts, a luxury camping spot in Southwest Harbor, said.
With the future of out-of-state guests uncertain, some hotels and other destinations are still preparing to open for the season. Starting in June, lodging will be able to reopen for Maine residents, under Governor Janet Mills' reopening plan. Popular destinations, like Newagen Seaside Inn in Southport, typically welcome out-of-state guests and host weddings. However, with Mainers soon to be allowed to stay, they're preparing to open up.
"We thought, what an opportunity to share this amazing piece of the coast with people who many not have been to Boothbay," Newagen general manager Abby Fessenden said.
Acadia Yurts also plans to open while following and meeting state guidelines. With guests for June now limited to solely Maine residents, owners Aaron Sprague and Karen Roper had an idea to make visiting their destination easier.
They're offering pay-what-you-can for the month of June.
"We didn’t put in any kind of minimums. We didn’t even give any suggestions as to what they could pay," Sprague said.
A 30-foot yurt rented for a week during its peak summer season can be between $1200 and $1500, however those prices aren't staying in place. Mainers who apply to stay with them get to name their price. Acadia Yurts' owners hope it gives residents the chance for a vacation that meets families budgets, while also giving them the chance to stay open and keep income flowing so upgrades can be made to meet CDC guidelines.
Management at Newagen Seaside Inn heard about that plan, and decided to offer the same pay-what-you can program.
"A chance to come and visit and do it in a way that fits their family budget," Fessenden said.
Fessenden says she's already received more than 350 requests for stay from Maine residents, and expects more to come in. The owners of Acadia Yurts say they've also seen overwhelming support from the community and have a waiting list of Mainers hoping to stay at their luxury campsite near Acadia National Park.