DULUTH – Lutsen Resort will close Sunday through the end of April, the latest hit to the hospitality industry that’s shutting down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The popular destination, which overlooks Lake Superior, put about 70 of its 90 employees on unpaid leave, general manager Clair Nalezny said Thursday.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Nalezny, who said that it was one made with the safety of guests and staff in mind. “Our intention is absolutely to tighten our belts and reopen.”
Across the country, hotels and other tourists attractions are bracing for an economic blow as events and trips are canceled in light of officials’ encouragements that the public to hole up at home to slow the spread of the virus.
Just last week, Lutsen Resort was seeing an uptick in reservations as the federal government discouraged travel to Europe, Nalezny said. She saw a surge again when Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday that he was canceling K-12 schools for two weeks.
“And then things changed again, and we saw people realizing they should stay home,” Nalezny said. “It was literally changing daily.”
The resort is at the tail end of spring break season, she added, so they have to cancel a lot of reservations for guests who were supposed to come this week or next. Those folks will receive refunds or be able to move their stays to a later date.
Staff put on unpaid leave will receive benefits from the resort through April, and Nalezny said they were instructed how to apply for unemployment.
April is typically a slow month, and hopefully the resort will be back to normal operations by summer, which is “by far the busiest season,” the manager added.
Lutsen Mountains, the neighboring downhill ski slopes and resort, also announced Thursday that it was closing for the season on Sunday.
“We can only do what we can do, right?” Nalezny said. “We’re going to be, hopefully, a part of the solution and the slowdown.”