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Roadside motels feeling the COVID crunch in Downeast Maine

Acadia National Park has seen a dramatic uptick in visitors in recent weeks, but it hasn't translated to an uptick in business for motels outside the park
Downeast roadside motel owners talk about their struggles this summer season
Downeast roadside motel owners talk about their struggles this summer season
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 9:13 PM EDT
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - Ariela Zucker and her husband own the Twilite Motel in Ellsworth.

For now.

She says business is down 70% from last year, and is worried about the future of her business.

“I don’t know what we’re gonna do,” Zucker said. “I’ve never in my life been in that kind of a situation. Never in a situation where I couldn’t pay my debt. I don’t even know what that means. I have no frame of reference. Seriously.”

Nearly every business has been affected by the pandemic. Maybe none more than the roadside motel.

Their business model is different from a lodging business you mind find in a place like downtown Bar Harbor.

“Our guests have been thinking about this for months,” said Peter Hastings, who owns two hotels in Bar Harbor. “They have it planned out. They know all their steps. This atmosphere in the COVID-19 world does not lend itself to the roadside motel, cabins, lodging that has been a staple in Maine for generations.”

Katherine Beveridge-Titterington owns the Sunrise Motel in Trenton, and says the early season regulations the Mills administration put in place for out-of-state visitors have caused unnecessary harm.

“We want to get tourists here,” she said. “We want to encourage them to keep coming back to vacationland. But we’re not offering vacations. Instead we’re scare mongering. I spend 90 days of my season full. And I have not been full yet.”

Zucker said she’s heard the phrase “we’re all in this together,” but she doesn’t agree. She said while we might all be weathering the same storm, we’re not all steering the same boat.

And without answers for the present, there is nothing but more uncertainty ahead.

“I don’t see any plan to help us, really,” said Zucker. “And that bothers me. That’s all I can say.”

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