Cape Cod hotels and lodging finalize plans to reopen

CAPE COD, Mass. — Owners of hotels, Airbnbs and other lodging locations in Massachusetts are making final plans to reopen ahead of Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement Saturday, when he is expected to further detail the state’s plans for phase two of reopening.

On Cape Cod, lodging is a crucial component to summer tourism.

“I think everybody has been pent up ... anxious to come out and re-enter society," Mark Novota, managing partner of Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, told WFXT-TV. “And I think the Cape is an idyllic place for that.”

The five-star resort in Harwich is still empty, but not for long.

“We’re very fortunate to be a drive-to destination. Being on Cape Cod, there’s nearly 100 million Americans within six hours of here," Novota told WFXT-TV. “So, we suspect we’ll get a little bit of those coming our way to escape."

Novota said the resort put together a 60-page training program for staff that highlights new safety guidelines included in Gov. Baker’s reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will offer extensive training to all of our employees so that when the employees come they’re not only ready for our guests, but so that they too feel safe,” he said.

According to Novota, the resort has plans to add 24 sanitation stations on the property along with new social distancing signs.

Guests will be encouraged to utilize the outdoor space.

“Our property, to a large degree, was built for social distancing: 27 acres, 22 buildings, an abundance of space for dining, all outdoor, which is something that people are excited to do right now,” Novota said.

With half the number of bookings expected for this summer compared to previous years, Novota added that tourists may want to take advantage of the lesser crowds.

“We anticipate there being a slow-down by comparison, but at the same time we think there’s going to be pretty significant demand,” he said.

Short-term rentals on the Cape face different challenges as property owners who rely on the income still experience cancellations.

“It’s scary. I mean, we have a lot of people booked but a lot of people have backed out,” said Scott Tessier, a rental property owner in the area.

Tessier and his wife, Anne, told WFXT-TV that they’re ramping up disinfecting procedures and hoping to make the house safer for guests.

“We have a wall of books and puzzles and games, so some of those things are going to come out because they’re not easily cleaned,” said Anne Tessier.

Out-of-state guests must also be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, which is a rule that the Tessiers hope won’t turn more people away.

“I just hope we can get the renters in,” said Scott Tessier.