With capacity limits and rules changing almost daily, resorts in the Poconos are getting ready for what they expect will be a busy summer season as people look to vacation and explore the outdoors in a post-COVID-19 world.
Shawn Hauver, the general manager at Camelback Resort in Tannersville, feels the ski season this past winter gave him a good test run as to how the rest of 2021 will go moving out of the pandemic.
“We learned a lot during the pandemic,” he said. “Even though we have capacity limits for our indoor restaurants, we know people still enjoy dining outside, so we are continuing to increase the outdoor dining options.”
He said at Camelbeach, the outdoor version of the resort’s two waterparks, they will keep two winter dining options – an outdoor barbecue and two food trucks – that were popular with skiers and snowboarders during the summer months.
“Out of the pandemic, we’ve come up with some quicker ways to get people served food and we’ve been able to do that more efficiently,” said Hauver.
He said the resort is planning several upgrades for summer, including a new ski lift that was put in last year that will now run year-round.
“It’s now going to run in the summertime and will connect Camelback Adventures with Camelbeach,” he said. “It will now be very easy to go from one area to the other. Before you had to get into your car or walk up or down a very steep hill.”
Summer tubing is new for 2021 as well as bungee jumping and UTV tours.
Hauver said despite being in a full-blown pandemic with no one vaccinated, the resort had a very successful summer.
“I think people still want to be outdoors more than ever,” he said. “And we are expecting to do a little better than last year as it relates to attendance.”
The Poconos was touted during the Summer of 2020 as the place to vacation largely because of its numerous outdoor options – whether it be swimming in a pool, lake or river, or kayaking down the Lehigh River. Golfing and horseback riding found new marketing points as a perfect way to be socially distant.
The four county Pocono region contributes $4 billion to the Pennsylvania economy, according to study done by Tourism Economics, which analyzed consumer spending in 2018. The study also found the Poconos has the ‘highest proportion of labor income and employment’ supported by travel than any other area of the state.
At Kalahari Resorts, spokesman Luis Hernandez said they plan to add new attractions in early July.
“We are thrilled for our summer season,” said Hernandez. “As we all navigated through the pandemic, Kalahari worked hard to ensure the safety and well-being of all guests and associates, abiding by guidelines set by state and local authorities. With progress towards a full reopening across America, we have seen more guests come to the property and we are excited to welcome many more back.”
He said in accordance with CDC guidelines, there has been extensive cleaning of the resort while guests visit the property.
“This included increased sanitization using the hospital-grade disinfectant as have always used, social distancing, encouraging cash-free methods of payment, an automatic express check-out process and more,” he said.
Hernandez wasn’t specific on how many people they were looking to hire, but he said they are always looking for people to fill various roles.
Travelers are finding their way back to Woodloch Resort, said Erica Bloch, a spokeswoman for the resort near Hawley.
“Demand is extremely high, and I would say it’s been like that for the past few months,” she said. “We are still about 60-percent capacity, which is likely to continue through the summer, but there’s been a lot of interest.”
Bloch said in 2021, they are seeing a lot of ‘multi-generational’ families coming, especially with older people being vaccinated, which means they can vacation safely with younger members of the family.
“They haven’t been able to do that over the past few years,” she said.
She said because of its location, many customers find it easy to drive to from regional cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
“We’re very lucky because there’s a large population of people that can get to us,” she said. “People may not feel comfortable flying and traveling, so it works out for us. The Poconos is really close to a lot of those places. And it’s just beautiful here.”
She said the mask rule is in place for people who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. For those who have, Bloch said they are asking people to sign a waiver so they can go mask-less on the property.
The resort is now in its third generation of family ownership and features summer activities on an adjoining lake as well as a pool and golf.