TREASURE COAST BUSINESSES COPE
WITH A DECREASE IN TOURISM DOLLARS
MARTIN COUNTY TOURISM OFFICE
The Marriott Hutchinson Island Beach Resort is one of the largest hotels on the Treasure Coast, where the hospitality business fell sharply because of the pandemic.
Proximity to undeveloped beaches, wide-open spaces and
metropolitan areas help local businesses
Christy Heskel was in a tough spot when
COVID-19 hit in March and many people
who had reservations at her 12-cottage
resort on the Indian River in Sebastian
canceled because of health concerns.
It had been just a little more than two
years since Christy and her husband, Neil,
bought the long-in-the-tooth Ferndale
Lodge, which they closed, gutted, and
renovated. Each cottage got a separate
interior, giving each a different vibe,
Christy said. They even changed the name
to Island View Cottages.
The Heskels were making a go of it. Their
small business was slowly developing a
cadre of devoted return guests. Couples
took a cottage for a few nights or even a
month or more. Then the coronavirus put
recouping their investment on suspension.
In addition to concern for their guests,
the Heskels felt protective of their small
“In March when it all hit, we didn’t want
to subject our employees, so we closed for
three months,” Christy Heskel said.
Since the reopening, guests have returned,
but business is still down to 60% of
what it was a year ago, and of the booked
reservations from January to April this
year, a third canceled. >>
BY BERNIE WOODALL