When the Fett family bought the resort on the shore of Hill Lake in 2013, it had been shut down for three years. They then closed the resort for two years to do construction and remodeling. They have been operating now for five years. They are not booked up for the summer, but this year they are on track to do at least as well as last year. Staffing has not been an issue for the Blue Moon. The Fetts hire a couple of local cleaning staff and have numerous people from Hill City apply for jobs. “We are busy but are not booked up for the summer by any means,” said owner Randy Fett. “We would like to welcome more people.”
The website www.minnesota-resorts.com observes that resorts have a natural appeal as people come out of various levels of COVID-19 lock down, because they are naturally fairly COVID-19 safe, tend to be relatively isolated, are naturally conducive to distancing and can often be found close to home. With Minnesotans anxious to get outdoors and experience a real vacation, how is that translating into business for resorts in and around Aitkin County? Reopening after COVID-19 carries with it a list of rules, regulations and recommendations for resort owners and others in the hospitality industry.
Memorial Day Weekend 2021 was better for the Hill City resort than two years ago; about the same as last year, which was “a great year” for Randy and Tammy Fett, and son and daughter-in-law, Dylan and Laci. Now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and summer is unofficially here, the Aitkin Independent Age reached out to some area resorts to see how the summer has been treating them thus far, and what their business outlooks are for the rest of the season.
McGuire believes the fact that programs are based on payroll leaves out some small businesses that rely on family to do all the work. “We have to get up a little earlier and work a little longer,” she said “It’s just Ron and me to do the work.” The Whitewood is relatively booked up for the early part of the summer, but they still have openings in August. McGuire thinks that it was a serious oversight on the part of the legislature that small family operated businesses like theirs have had difficulty qualifying for government COVID-19 aid programs.
McGuire said last week, “The resort is doing OK; our biggest problem is that we are desperate for help; it seems that nobody is ready to get back to work.” Wanda McGuire and her husband Rob Doenges own and operate The Whitewood Resort on Spirit Lake in Aitkin.
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