November 3, 2013

Revival of the fittest: Maine’s economy shows strength

Key sectors are showing signs of life. Could an overall turnaround be close behind?

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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The Hampton Inn Freeport/Brunswick said its summer and fall occupancy rates have exceeded its own expectations and the hotel saw only a hiccup from the shutdown when Bath Iron Works postponed the christening ceremony of the USS Zumwalt destroyer set for October. The shipyard plans to reschedule the formal christening in the spring.

“Occupancy overall is up year over year and has exceeded our expectations,” said Chris Barstow, general manager of the Hampton Inn Freeport/Brunswick. “We have continued to stay on track and we haven’t seen any blips in consumer spending other than the one weekend of the canceled christening.”

The Bar Harbor Grand Hotel said it had three or four canceled reservations because of the closure of Acadia National Park, but most visitors kept their vacation schedule and stayed to visit other parts of Mount Desert Island, said the hotel’s property manager, Dennis Clark.

The hotel said it saw a record season for occupancy from July through October. The hotel closes for the winter in the first week of November.

In Old Orchard Beach, the Normandie Oceanfront Motor Inn saw occupancy rates jump from July Fourth through the end of August and remain as strong or slightly higher in September and October than they were a year ago, said owner and manager Mike Buffard.

Buffard said the government shutdown didn’t disrupt customer traffic during the fall. Instead, he worried that Maine hotels could lose traffic to other states over time because of the higher hotel tax rate, which increased to 8 percent from 7 percent on Oct. 1.

“We’re all a little concerned about the state tax going up. They say it’s only temporary until June 30, but you never know,” Buffard said. “It could hurt business and turn customers away to our neighbors to the south.”

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

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