Wary about the prospect of welcoming a series of new visitors in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hedges Inn in East Hampton announced this week that it will seek to rent the entire property from June 1 to Labor Day for $1 million, or $350,000 per month. For an extra $100,000, a chef and housekeeping staff can be included.
"I didn't feel great about the nightly turnover, encouraging people to come out here, and worrying about their health and the health of the staff and the community," said Jenny Lilja, the manager. "So I thought, how can we adjust our business model?"
The inn features 13 bedrooms, a commercial kitchen, two acres of outdoor space, and it comes with a fully stocked bar.
Traditionally, about 3,000 guests stay at the inn each year, but this spring, "it's been nothing but cancellations," she said. Guests who have inquired about a summer stay have made it clear that they would not want housekeeping services.
The hotel's homey, intimate feel and communal spaces also pose a dilemma during a pandemic, said Ms. Lilja. Even if sanitizing protocols and other precautionary measures are put in place, she said, it would be impossible to guarantee that people would be protected from contracting the virus. "What am I going to do, follow people around with bleach?" she asked.
A seasonal or monthly buyout of the hotel will provide a way to keep her staff employed and bring in some revenue, she said. She's already received an offer to rent for August from someone looking for a place to house personal staff, she said, and she could foresee film production companies or other businesses setting up summer headquarters at the hotel.
Another big advantage the inn currently has to offer, she said, is that it comes in pre-pandemic condition. "No one's been in there since December," she said.