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Lakeshore preparing to rebound for Summer tourism

Posted at 10:30 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 22:30:32-04

In most other years, this coming Memorial Day weekend would be the unofficial kick-off to the tourism season. And while much is still unknown about how the West Michigan lakeshore will fare this year, communities are doing what they can to prepare for the season.

Birdie Holley is the manager of Old Pike Cottages in Saugatuck which has seven cottages for rent for tourists.

Once the Governor lifts the Stay-Home Stay-Safe order, they expect their business will be booming, partly thanks to their forward thinking in making things as safe as possible.

Holley is part of a group of 100 business owners in the Saugatuck, Douglas and Fennville, three neighboring towns that are getting praise for their forward thinking. “The gentleman from Pure Michigan could not get over what were doing, he was like ‘You guys are so far ahead of the curve,’” Holley told Fox 17.

Old Pike Cottages has a natural advantage like no common shared hallways or common shared doorways in the lodging part of the complex because they are individual cottages. “We have pillow protectors, mattress protectors.

Where you may not change your mattress protector after every guest, right now we are,” Holley said. They also offer no contact for check-in and check-out, and Holley adds, “We’ve recommended with lodging, if possible to wait one to three days in between tenants, where usually your guests leave at 11 and check in is at 3.” Holley also told us that housekeeping is by request only, another measure in place to keep Covid-19 contamination risks minimized.

The three towns are getting help in being proactive thanks in part to their equally proactive government and plan to move shopping and food service outside. “The city has already given a license for restaurants to bring tables out to the sidewalk, where usually you’d have to have fenced in areas. The city is considering shutting down streets during certain times so retail can bring their merchandise out in the streets,” Holley explained. She adds they may also add 15 minute marked curbside parking for online shoppers to grab their purchases. Holley’s other, family owned business, Saugatuck Golf Carts is moving its entire showroom outside and staggering appointments to avoid customers overlapping. Holley says the entire shopping and delivery process of the golf carts can be done without interaction if customers prefer.

Speaking of shopping online, Holland has streamlined all of its take-out dining and shopping into two new websites, dinedowntownholland.com and

shopdowntownholland.com.

Marketing Coordinator of Downtown Holland, Kara deAlvare explained, “We realized we needed to pivot our marketing strategy in order to increase revenue streams for our businesses as quickly as possible.”

The dining website will feature all restaurants that offer take-out and when you click on a particular website, you will be taken either directly to their menu or a direct page to order online. While the shopping website as deAlvare explains works a little more specific to the type of shopping you’re doing.

“Select what kind of merchandise you’re looking for, whether it’s clothing accessories or sporting goods. Click on that link and get taken to a list of all the businesses,” deAlvare said.

The city and county of Muskegon are making adjustments with the hopes of attracting visitors as soon as possible, according to Bob Lukens who says they expect more day trippers within a 200 mile zone this Summer.

“We have wide open spaces with large beaches and plenty of room to move around and I think that will be our key selling point.” Unlike many other West Michigan beaches, Muskegon has not been impacted by beach erosion.

Lukens explains that much of the former hand-held brochures will be replaced with a “More robust social media presence for restaurants and attractions will be really important as we move forward.”