Hotel owners say they are in survival mode.

May 19, 2020

Hotel owners say they are in survival mode.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — David and Dawn Bourgette have owned Viking Arms Inn, 930 E. Ludington Ave., for over 30 years. This year will likely go down in the books as their worst year ever financially.

“This year started out looking really good,” David said. “Often during a Presidential Election year business is a little slower because people are uncertain what’s going to happen. But, our bookings were strong. Then, the pandemic hit and Gov. Whitmer closed us down. From that point forward, it’s been rather bleak.”

David said bookings were down 55% in March and 90% in April. “We are also down 90% so far for the month of May and Memorial Day weekend has very few bookings.”

Dawn described the trickle of bookings for the summer as “a slow train wreck.”

“The majority of our income is made in the summer,” she said. “We are like squirrels, earning all our money in the summer so we can survive the other eight or nine months out of the year.”

David said it is unlikely the hotel will make a profit this year.

“We are always in survival mode come spring time, but this entire year will be survival mode for us,” David said. “It will be difficult for us to make it into winter. This isn’t about greed, it’s about keeping our business alive and being able to pay our bills or our employees.”

The cancellation of local events, the closure of bars and restaurants and the delay of the sailing season of the SS Badger are all major factors that have caused a trickle-down effect on businesses such as Viking Arms. Gov. Whitmer’s executive order Monday that allows for counties north of Mason County to open this Friday will also have an additional negative effect on the hotel, since many businesses such as bars along with in-dining service at restaurants must remain closed.

The Bourgettes said they are doing everything they can to make sure their guests feel safe when staying at their hotel.

“Our housekeeping staff is going to limit how often they go into the rooms,” David said. “We are asking guests who stay for multiple nights to consider waiving housekeeping. If the guests want extra towels or other items, housekeeping can bring those to the room.

“We purchased an electrostatic gun that uses hospital grade cleaning sanitizer. It looks like a comic book-sized 44 magnum. We will spray the rooms with it. We also have a UV sanitizing wand that will be used for places that get touched a lot like door knobs and the telephones.”
Viking Arms will also supply its guests with hand sanitizer.

“We are also cutting out certain services for now, such as the continental breakfast.”

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