With Hurricane Irene weekend followed by Labor Day weekend, it’s been a week of highs and lows for local hotels.
The effects of a last weekend due to the hurricane were felt predominantly on the barrier island hotels and motels, who were faced with cancellations and the work of clearing out guests and shutting down the business.
Bill Pettinelli from the Starlight Motel, Ortley Beach, said, “It’s killing us!”
With the mandatory evacuation of the barrier island, the Ortley Beach section of Toms River began to clear on Saturday afternoon.
“We have 47 rooms, 27 with kitchens; we fill every night in the summer,” said Pettinelli. Not last Saturday night, he said. Starlight offered refunds for guests.
“We don’t need anymore hurricanes here,” said Pettinelli as he prepared to close for Sunday and Monday last week.
The Holiday Inn, Route 37 East, felt both sides of the impact of Irene.
Staffer Joe Kostantinou reported that weekend there were many cancellations from out-of-towners, but also reservations for shore locals seeking shelter.
“Locals are desperately looking for shelter, visitors are desperately canceling,” Kostantinou said.
Ten miles inland, Darren Johnson of the said some of his customers left for Irene, but that “so far not yet, it hasn’t affected business.”
And how did the hotels prepare for the storm?
Johnson said he was prepared to help guests get to the nearest shelter, even if he had to drive them himself.
Should there be another hurricane to hit later in the season, the is confident in their hurricane emergency plan. “We will do what is necessary. We have a generic, but strict plan. Call each room; knock on each door; scream the necessary instructions,” said Kostantinou.
Karen Herron, manager of the , spent last Friday making cancellations, setting reservations, and preparing weddings for the hurricane.
One of the last weekends of the summer season is a popular one for weddings, and last weekend saw a postponement on Sunday but two other weddings on Friday and Saturday went on.
In any future storm, the Ramada Toms River is ready, Herron said: “candles, flashlights, printed evacuation routes; a lot has been preplanned. We’re ready.”