BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – We are in the midst of peak fall foliage and that means peak business for some in our area. The crucial economic impact is more important than ever this year because of the pandemic.
“It’s been an extremely challenging year,” said Jean Hoell, general manager of the Peaks of Otter Lodge.
October typically brings reds and yellows on the trees and for the Peaks of Otter Lodge, that means green.
“If we did have any budgetary shortfalls, this is the time of year that we can make that up,” Hoell said.
This year, there’s more to make up than ever thanks to the pandemic.
Hoell said they made the call to close the lodge during winter for the first time last year. Right as they were about to reopen, COVID-19 hit, forcing them to stay shut down until late June.
Reopening came with new policies, a fraction of the staffing and a different kind of traveler. In the past, fall foliage has attracted visitors from across the country and the world. This year, it’s more local travel and staycations.
Those customers during peak season help the lodge stay afloat the rest of the year and now, they’re counting on the leaves to build that back.
“We lost Easter, we lost Mother’s Day, our high-hit holidays, so this year the only holiday really that we’re able to have any offering is Thanksgiving. So it is critical that our guests feel secure, feel safe this month because we do make up a lot of ground,” Hoell said.
The Peaks of Otter Lodge is booked solid for the next few weekends and will close for the season at the end of November.