Maine re-opening: Hotels getting creative as Kennebunkport prepares for summer with few tourists


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KENNEBUNKPORT, ME (WWLP) – The state of Maine is slowly re-opening for business. But it will be a slow process, that will be months in the making. A 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors could limit the economy in Maine all summer long.

Nonantum Resort

Ocean Avenue is normally bustling this time of year but it’s quiet right now. The Nonantum Resort is a grand hotel that was built back in 1884 and is a landmark in Kennebunkport. It’s also quiet right now as they wait to re-open their doors.

Dock Square in downtown Kennebunkport is really the epicenter of this place. They are doing takeout in some of the restaurants and some of the cafés, but they also wait for those doors to re-open to guests hopefully by June 1st.

The same is true of Walker’s Point where tourists normally gather to take a look at the Bush Compound and the jagged rocky coast of Maine. All are waiting for the doors to re-open and it’s a gradual process.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to market to some new clients that may not normally come to Kennebunkport. I think Maine residents tend to not come down here.  They think ‘Oh it’s a tourist town.’ But it’s a little quieter this year.”

Tina Gordon, General Manager of Nonantum Resort

For hotels like the Nonantum Resort and for all the other little hotels and the bed and breakfasts, that 14-day quarantine is a major sticking point right now. They have to wait until that is lifted before they can really start to enjoy business once again.

At the Nonantum Resort they are waiting for June 5th when they can at least start having in-state guests stay and then wait for the out-of-state guests once the restrictions are lifted. 

From the rocky coast of the Atlantic, to the picturesque waterways, to the seafood cuisine. Maine is Vacationland but it’s struggling to accept the new normal that for right now includes a 14-day quarantine for out of state visitors.

Alisson’s Restaurant

“We are trying to keep it positive as much as we can. You know we really are tourist driven. The industry is really tourist driven in this area but I believe that it’s all going to come together in the end.”

Ashley Padget, Alisson’s General Manager

Alisson’s and the Hurricane are two of the restaurants that usually are busy with customers this time of year. Right now they’re in takeout mode, seeing only a fraction of the business they normally would. But it’s that way all over Kennebunkport a town that thrives on tourism and can’t wait to welcome those tourists back.

“We know that people are still waiting to come to Maine. We get those phone calls all day long. They all have their favorite coffee place, so we’re going to do everything we can to keep you safe.  We’re going to ask you to help us do the same and we’re going be very transparent with all the changes we made here in the community.”

Laura Dolce, Executive Director Kennebunk Chamber

Hurricane Restaurant

“I grew up here in Kennebunkport. It’s strange to see a summer with very little to no tourism at all. It’s what we live off so it’s something we need to figure out in a way to make it work in a safe manner.”

Tyler Benenti, Owner of Hurricane

Vacationland waits just like the rest of us. Whether it’s along the rocky coast line or in Dock Square. They wait for the hustle and bustle, they wait for tourism to return, and they wait for those restrictions to be lifted.

It’s known as Vacationland and this is a summer maybe without a lot of vacation involved. Especially for the people here, they’ve had to make a lot of adjustments.

Mornings in Paris

The owner of Mornings in Paris, Paul Humphrey, did make those adjustments to start his takeout business. He has hopes of expanding that later when Maine starts to relax some of its rules, but he actually made some different social distancing changes in his cafe to make sure that business works here.

“What’s the best way we can open? How we can do it to ensure the safety of the staff and the safety of customers. My goal was to set an example of how it can be done. But to make sure customers are feeling safe. Because if the customers don’t feel safe, they aren’t going come back again.”

Paul Humphrey, Owner of Mornings in Paris

Of course the big sticking point is the 14-day quarantine that may last through the summer. That 14-day quarantine keeps out-of-state people from visiting Kennebunkport. They really have to work on their in-state clientele, before they think about what may happen with out of state customers and possibly if those restrictions get lifted at some point this summer.

MAP: Kennebunkport, Maine

Coronavirus in Maine

  • 1,477 confirmed cases
  • 1,012 recovered
  • 70 people have died
  • 214 patients hospitalized
    *numbers as of May 16

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