Cape May, NJ – Along Cape May’s bed and breakfast row, all is as it should be. The flags are out, the fall chrysanthemums are blooming. Tea is being poured, served with homemade sweet treats.
Hurricane Sandy spared Cape May, leaving its historic, Victorian homes untouched. Yet the storm is beginning to affect the town’s economy in a very different way.
A large percentage of Cape May’s booked bed and breakfast rooms are being cancelled.
Some prospective bed and breakfast guests mistakenly think Cape May was hit as hard as the shore towns to the north. Other guests are storm victims themselves.
At the John F. Craig House, a quirky Halloween spider sprawls on the inn’s front lawn. Innkeeper Barbara Masemore says she’s gotten cancellations for more than 15 nights, many from guests who live in storm stricken areas in North Jersey.
“They’re out of power, they’re out of gas,” she says. “It’s a time when they need Cape May’s calming influence, and they can’t get here.”
Bonnie Pontin from the John Wesley Inn agrees. “People don’t want to leave their homes if they’ve had major damage. I had one woman cancel a three night stay because she was out of power and couldn’t get gas.”
Doug McMain from the Queen Victoria says, in recent years, North Jersey has become a larger part of the inn’s market. Many of those guests just can’t get out of their neighborhoods because of power problems and flooding.
Other guests, he says, are nervous about the gasoline rationing. They don’t believe him when he tells them Cape May has plenty of gas.
To try to convince them, he says “I posted a picture on the Queen Victoria’s Facebook page of a Cape May gas station with no lines.”
John Matusiak at The Bacchus Inn says the storm has put not only the inn’s guests but also the inns themselves in a very difficult situation.
“Out of seven rooms booked, only one room did not cancel this week. I don’t know how this can be good for any of us.”
“Even people from Washington, DC and Pennsylvania want to cancel because they don’t think we’re still here.” Another innkeeper says a Pittsburgh couple cancelled a four night stay because they feared being in a “rescue mission.”
Lucky for Cape May, that’s nowhere near reality.
Cape May is very much alive and well. After narrowly escaping Hurricane Sandy’s wrath, life in Cape May is back to normal. The Cove is its old self. Restaurants are open. The late afternoon sun turns the beach a shade of shell pink.
It’s that quiet, pretty time of year locals love. November in Cape May.
Innkeepers just wish they could be sharing it with more guests.