Island Hotels Have Banner Year

The sign posted at the downtown Visitor Services Center at the end of July told the tale: “To the best of our knowledge, there is no lodging on the island this evening.” It was illustrative of what was a banner year for Nantucket’s inns and hotels, as pent up demand for travel after the lifting of many COVID-19-related restrictions led to record numbers and surging volumes that began early in the spring, carried through the summer and has continued into the fall. 

“It was certainly a record year,” said Garison Beale, general manager of the Greydon House on Broad Street. “We’re looking at almost 25 percent more occupancy than 2019 for Greydon House in the summer. Guests were thrilled to be back, and a decent amount of guests were avoiding Europe and staying more local.”

At the Nantucket Inn, general manager Scott Thomas shared a similar sentiment: “It was a record breaking season for us,” he said. 

Despite staffing shortages that plagued nearly every island business during the season, the island’s inns and hotels navigated the record volumes even while being shorthanded. That challenge has continued into the fall as the workforce shrinks but lodging, driven by a robust wedding season, remains in high demand. Many weddings that were postponed last fall have been taking place over the past month. 

“It has been quite the year,” said Nantucket Hotel and Resort owner Mark Snider. “The last two years are going to be written in the history books as two of the most memorable. 2020 was difficult for so many reasons. 2021 was challenging but very busy. Staffing was a challenge across the island. Finding people places to eat dinner was a challenge, and people had such a pent up desire to get out and live life, it put a  lot of pressure on the island.”

Looking ahead, Snider said the Nantucket Hotel is almost completely booked for Thanksgiving, Christmas Stroll, New Year’s Eve, and its events with author Elin Hilderbrand in January. The business is welcome, of course, but the challenge is finding a balance between successful volumes and being overwhelmed, Snider said. 

“We’re like everyone: balancing appreciating the business and the ebbs and flows of hte island,” Snider said. “The island has to come to terms with that. It’s a desirable place, people want to be here, and it’s special. But the infrastructure has to support the demand. It’s a balancing act.”

Khaled Hashem, the managing director for hospitality at New England Development which owns White Elephant Resorts (formerly known as Nantucket Island Resorts), said he couldn’t share exact numbers, but concurred with his counterparts in the lodging industry: 2021 was a year to remember. 

“It was a very positive year compared to 2019, the last normal year,” Hashem said. “Successful all around. Our team did a great job handling the volume and providing great service.”

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