Business is ramping up for Cape Cod rental properties.
Kent Zelle, founder of Nauset Rental in Orleans, which manages about 70 high-end rental properties between Chatham and Provincetown, has this advice for those looking to rent on the Cape this season: “I would certainly book soon because it is filling up.”
Hotels, motels, and lodging are scheduled to reopen during phase 2 of the state’s four-phase reopening plan, which will kick off June 8. Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the guidelines for reopening lodging last week.
Cape experts said renters may have fewer choices this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We believe there could be a constrained supply,” said Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. “People may not want to rent their property. Or, if they do rent their property, they may want to rent it for just a month instead of short stays.”
Travelers are indeed looking to extend their time on the Cape this season, the experts said.
“We know there’s a huge interest in longer-term rentals — renting for a whole month, renting for the season,” said state Sen. Julian Cyr, who represents Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
“Traditionally, the travel industry was seeing a move away from those longer stays,” said Ryan Castle, CEO of Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors. “But this summer, for obvious reasons, I think people are saying, ‘Hey, I’m working from home for the whole summer, I’m not going back to my office until the fall or later, so why not just be down on the Cape for two or three months if I have the means to do that?'”
Renters also have many questions this season due to the pandemic, Castle said.
“They want to know what [rental properties] are doing to make sure their stay is going to be clean,” Castle said. “Guests are asking, ‘Are the beaches going to be open?’, ‘Am I going to be able to park at the beaches?’ They also want to know, ‘What restaurants are going to be open?'”
“The cleaning protocols of the property will be pretty standardized,” Northcross said. “And I think that helps people. I think the more standardized we can be, it gives a sense of security and it’s easier to follow the rules.”
Beach access on the Cape has broadly been unrestricted throughout the pandemic, Cyr told reporters last month.
“Just come and be ready to relax and be outdoors,” Northcross said. “People were all worried about the beaches being overcrowded. I think we can manage this. We have a thousand miles of coastline.”
“The Cape, in general, is a great spot to social distance,” Castle said. “That’s one of the beauties of a Cape vacation.”
However, visitors should know that the Cape is opening slowly and with safety in mind, Northcross said.
“It’s not going to be everything you’re used to seeing,” she said. “All the outdoor stuff should be good. Anything that puts people close together inside is going to come later.”
Last week, the state released the guidelines for reopening restaurants, which are also part of phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. Restaurants will begin by offering outdoor dining with tables situated six feet apart and parties of no more than six. For those interested in eating in, the chamber provides a list of Cape restaurants offering take-out, Northcross noted.
Out-of-state travelers should be mindful of the state’s self-quarantining policy, Northcross said. Lt. Gov. Polito, during a press conference last week, said, “Lodging operators must inform guests of the commonwealth’s policy urging travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving [from] out of state.”
For more information about the Cape this season, visitors can go to ReopeningCapeCod.org, a resource created by the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force for both residents and visitors.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a summer season, that Cape Cod and the islands can be a place for folks to come and retreat and recharge,” said Cyr. “But we’ve got to make sure we’re doing that in a way that keeps people safe and puts public health first.”