Season starts strong

BAR HARBOR — Spring school break last week saw lots of visitors to Acadia National Park, on the streets and at businesses in town.

“Even a little bit before vacation week, we were busy,” said John Bench, manager of Cool as a Moose on Main Street. The store opened for the season March 9.

“It started right when the park opened” on Wednesday, April 15.

“The weather was great, and there were a lot of people here,” he said.

Reservations at many hotels and bed and breakfast establishments are “way up” over last year, including advance bookings for businesses that don’t open until later in the season, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Director Martha Searchfield said.

“Everybody who’s open is having a pretty good spring. It’s always a combination of things, and April vacation weeks are always weather dependent. But I think it’s going to be a great year.

“The National Park Service has put out a great campaign about the centennial. There’s been so many articles about visiting your national park this summer.”

“I was curious, so I asked some customers, ‘Are you here because of the National Park Centennial?’” Bench said. “Some of them said, ‘The what?’ but some would say ‘yes.’ I think it’s good we’re getting the word out.”

Harborside Hotel manager Eben Salvatore said the company has promotions and packages related to centennial celebration events, and those are filling fast. “We’ve definitely seen a high interest in the centennial, and that’s translated into more frequent early bookings, early and mid-season.”

Over at the Bar Harbor Inn, General Manager Fred Link said special events bookings are about even with 2015 so far. “Last month, we were up quite a bit over 2015” in regular room bookings, but the increase has been tapering off more recently. Advance bookings are up about 10 percent from where they were in 2013 and 2014, he said.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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