I have been waiting for months for any information from either government that I could forward to our guests. We have all been hoping for a re-opening of the border and now we finally have the good news, that it will be open on August 9.
For lodge owners, not all the news is good. Now the scramble begins. After being closed for almost 2 full seasons, most of my staff have been forced to find employment elsewhere. Even those staff members that will return for a full season in 2022 are not going to feel comfortable leaving their current positions for a 5- or 6-week season. That decision becomes even more difficult with the extremely short notice. Another compounding factor the very limited labor market in Canada at this time. Local restaurants are closed on Monday and/or Tuesday because they can’t find enough cook staff or wait staff. Some of my guides have made the decision not to leave their current positions in part because they are earning $20 – $30 or more per hour. Today, I have lined up 6 – 8 guides, but I am short a cook and lodge staff. I expect that we will solve our staffing issues, but that leads me to my next set of complications. I will not have a full guide staff for the fall.
Engines are another issue. I have 3 guide boats on the property now and have calls into my marine dealer to add more as quickly as possible. He is working on it and will get back to me as soon as he can. This is just one of many issues that could easily have been averted if the government had given us some reasonable lead time and a clue as to what they were planning.
The book has been full for quite some time, but in the last several months, I have had some guests decide to make other summer vacation plans. Some will want to come up, but figuring out a workable schedule is going to be a task. Compounding the issue is that some anglers will not have been vaccinated. Others won’t want the risk of being around other people. And some group leaders are going to have some of their members wanting to come up and fish and others not able to make it with such short notice. It is going to be extremely difficult to keep everyone happy. After I secure staff, my plan is to work with each group to try to come up with the best plan for their fisherman.
My intention is to be as fair as possible with all of our current guests. Deposits are all safe. If a group has made other plans for this summer/fall and cannot make their dates for this summer, then I will transfer deposits to the same dates for next year. I will treat the members of my larger groups as individual deposits. If part of the group comes up to fish this fall, then the remaining deposits can be transferred to next season or returned. If and when there are openings in the reservation book, then those groups that had their earlier season bookings cancelled will have the first opportunity to fill in. My concern is there will be more demand than there will be available dates. I plan to make decisions based on the numbers of years of seniority each group has with SWWL.
Considerations for 2021 decision making process for August and September booking dates:
First priority will be given to currently booked guests for August and September with fully paid deposits.
Next level will be for guests with fully paid deposits that had earlier season dates cancelled.
Previous guests that are currently on the waiting list get next consideration.
The fourth tier of priority will be the rest of the groups on the waiting list.
I cannot promise that I will make everyone happy, but I will do my very best to come up with a fair solution.
With limited staff, we are not going to be able to provide bear hunts for this fall. We will transfer deposits and dates for those hunts to the 2022 season.
In other less important news, we were forced to cancel our construction project. We had planned to build a new pole barn to replace the old storage shed, but materials pricing nearly doubled from our original price quote. I could not make the money work, so we postponed the build for a year or two.
It will not be back to normal just yet. We still have new Covid protocols to work with, but I feel like this is the first big step to getting back to our normal way of life. We cannot wait to have guests back to the lodge this fall, but even more importantly to having a fully operational year for 2022.
If you have questions or concerns, please call (I apologize up front for our terrible internet phone service) or email and we will respond quickly.
I cannot describe how happy we are to have our guests return to the lodge.