Most campgrounds are already open with people gathering around over weekends and holidays to enjoy the summer with social distancing. (Lakes District News file photo)

How has Covid affected the Burns Lake area resorts and lodges?

From extreme losses to near profit, resorts and lodges give an insight

Usually with summer holidays, the campgrounds are overflowing and resorts are packed. However, this year due to Covid, the resorts, lodges, campgrounds will all look different. Lakes District News contacted a few local resorts and lodges to see how they were doing during this pandemic.

Takysie Lake Resort’s Owner Risé Johansen said that they are an essential business as they are the only providers of goods and services on the Southside and therefore have always been open throughout the pandemic. The resort doesn’t just have accommodations, but also has a large store, liquor store, gas station, propane reselling station and licensed dining.

“We never closed with the exception of sit-in dining, which is now open again. We have been housing tourism and industry both through this time. The rules applied to the tree planting community probably affected us more than anything else. They were heavily restricted so sales were definitely lost due to that,” said Johansen adding that some of those restrictions didn’t make any sense to her.

“Even after the planters had been in the bush for two months, they were still being inspected for social distancing measures. My question about that is why? What illness were they going to contract being in the bush for weeks?” asked Johansen who was wary of the losses due to the restrictions on the planters but optimistic about the local tourism.

“We are seeing a definite movement in both the local community and in tourism. People are getting tired of being at home and want to get out. Much more local “staycationing” this year for sure; more local travel, more “in B.C.” travel,” she said.

Bonnie Fehr of Noralee Resort, located at the west end of Francois Lake, has had a similar experience with more locals coming in.

“We are doing okay with Covid. Business has picked up lately and we are noticing more locals coming this year,” she said, adding that despite business picking up, travel restrictions being slowly lifted, the resort has still made changes to adjust for Covid restrictions.

“Not running out outdoor shower houses and bathrooms and also our general store is open only to guests of the resort. We have ramped up cleaning and sanitizing of cabins to include all door knobs, cupboards etc. We also ask our guests to maintain six feet distances and no visitors are allowed at the resort to minimize contact and social distancing,” added Fehr.

The resort has seen cancellations with two weddings and one family reunion cancelled due to Covid.

“Hopefully we can fill up those spots with B.C. people. It’s a different year and we will adjust to make the best of it,” she said.

Beaver Point Resort by the Tchesinkut Lake, has also seen B.C. locals coming in but has had more luck with their accommodations and are hoping to have an equal or even a better-than-last year revenue.

Brenda Hiebert, owner of the Beaver Point Resort pointed out, “The only difference I have seen is in overnight traffic from Europe, U.K. and U.S.A. We are actually busier (since we opened) due to two things, one is I have pipeline staff staying with us and second is that the stay-cation groups from B.C. are looking around for place close to home for longer stays. Most people this year are coming for four plus days.”

Hiebert is also taking extra measures to ensure there is proper signage, extra cleaning and social distancing.

“In central B.C. I believe we are lucky to be insulated from the virus because we don’t live in each others pockets (unless you are a family). Our homes are set apart but we take the messages coming from the government to heart,” she said.

However, Moosehorn Lodge on the Uncha Lake, has not been as lucky with customers and revenue. Walter Turner, the owner of the lodge told Lakes District News that although the lodge is open, they still don’t really have any idea as to what stage three of the reopening entails.

“Our business is going to be way down. A lot of people are just getting back to work so now they will have to figure out how to take a holiday,” said Turner, adding that although business is picking up and they are renting out the modern cabins and campgrounds, they are still not allowed to rent out the rustic cabins. He also doesn’t know if they are allowed to open the shower house or not.

“I have about six to seven numbers here for Covid assistance but no one will answer me. They keep putting me on to another phone number,” he said. Turner also said that even if the lodge is allowed to open the shower houses, with the new restrictions, if he has to hire more staff to keep them open, he won’t be able to afford to hire more staff and that will impact the business too.

Despite the positive outcome so far for Risé Johansen of the Takysie Lake Resort, one big concern she has is the economy and the consumers’ response to that.

“The government didn’t put very much thought into how they responded to the financial part of this situation and we have grave concerns regarding the future and the taxation that will have to be implemented to pay for all of this. We also have concerns about people not wanting to get back to work since they are being paid to stay home. What the economic future of the country will be remains to be seen,” she said.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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