Summer bookings rival last season 



ELLSWORTH — An estimated 4.07 million people visited Acadia National Park in 2021, an influx that was certainly felt by various hotels, campgrounds and other lodging options in the area. So far this year, all signs are pointing toward a similar, if not more robust, season for the hospitality industry in 2022. 

“I honestly thought last year was the perfect storm,” said Gretchen Wilson, executive director of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce. “However, we may be in for year two of that.”  

Wilson says she’s hearing from members that things are filling up fast. She also pointed to the fact that there has been an increase in the number of Airbnb hosts and private owners who have come into the Chamber’s offices to pick up maps and guides for their guests as evidence of growth in that sector of the lodging economy. 

Airbnb did not have summer estimates available for this year at press time but did point to the fact that Acadia was the top trending destination for the summer of 2021. That goes along with the trend of people looking to stay near access points to natural features, and that trend is expected to continue. The company also mentioned the fact that last year new hosts in Maine earned approximately $20 million from their bookings. 

Campgrounds in the area have also seen a huge increase in reservations starting last year and continuing into 2022. 

“Last year was a record-breaking year in our 10 years of operation,” said Jeff Dyer, owner of Forest Ridge Campground. “But my suspicions are that we will need to sit down, buckle up and hold on tight, as we are in for one busy season again this year.” 

Dyer says he has 25 seasonal sites that have been filled since last October and that he has around 20 people already on a seasonal waitlist. He says he’s been hearing from other campgrounds that their seasonal sites are full as well. 

KOA campgrounds around Ellsworth and Bar Harbor have also seen an increase and are expecting that trend to continue. KOA’s Director of Public Relations Saskia Boogman says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a large increase in the number of camping households. 

“In 2020, twenty-one percent of campers were new to the activity – a rate five times that observed in 2019,” Boogman explained. “This dramatic growth, paired with the increases we were already seeing, has caused it to be somewhat more challenging to secure campground stays, which has led to earlier bookings.” 

The new kids on the block at Under Canvas Acadia in Surry are gearing up for their second year of operation and are expecting to build off a strong opening season. 

“We are seeing strong advanced bookings at Under Canvas Acadia as awareness and demand for our waterfront location and quintessential New England experience continues to grow,” said Chief Marketing Officer May Lilley. “Based on current pacing, we can expect another very busy summer ahead.” 

It’s not just private rentals and campgrounds that are seeing a boost, though. More traditional hotels in the area are also experiencing an influx in bookings. Eric Marichal, director of business development for Witham Family Hotels, which operates multiple properties in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor, says this May and June are “… trending to have growth potential, which will transition right into a busy summer and fall season in the area.” 

“Our company has been tracking data for years, and whether compared to pre-pandemic numbers or the strong season many experienced in 2021, this season has seen above average early demand,” Marichal said. 

Eve Young, who owns and operates the Ellsworth-Bar Harbor Comfort Inn (a part of Witham Family Hotels) summed up the predominant school of thought in the area’s hospitality community: “I think things are shaping up to be another exceptional year.” 

 

Zachary Lanning

Zachary Lanning

News reporter Zach Lanning covers news and features in the Ellsworth area. He comes to Ellsworth by way of New Jersey, which he hopes you don't hold against him. Email him at [email protected].

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