And another letter, this one from Laura Saccio…
To My Fellow Islanders,
More than 20 years ago, my grandfather, a New Mexican farmer, rescued me from a life of impersonal work in the financial industry. I had been hired to work at an investment firm in Portland, and would see my family, including our two little girls, for only a couple of hours at the end of each day.
Grandad sold his cotton farm and was looking for an investment. He helped me finance the purchase of a wonderful little hotel (just 15 room and now known as the Bird Rock Hotel), in a small town in Washington almost 20 years ago. It was far away from where I had been heading, and offered the warmth and reality of small towns everywhere.
That change in the course of my career, meant that I could live a real life, among caring, real people.
Later, several other family members and I bought the Earthbox Inn & Spa, and Friday Harbor became my forever home.
We are not backed by big business, just our own commitment to this community and to the dozens of island families we employ.
There is no pile of money to see us through each winter, when our rooms are mostly unoccupied. There is just enough to keep us going until the next season.
We recognize the risks of “opening up” too early, but we imagine a very different Friday Harbor if we cannot do so. Our shops, restaurants, and cultural events depend upon a healthy summer season. We will already have a very late season opening, if we have much of one at all, and that will heavily affect our ability as a community to get through this coming winter.
We absolutely believe in being very careful. Our new rules for the hotels are basically “hands off.” Visitors will check in with an automated system into their sparkling clean rooms and be supplied with everything they need in order to ensure minimal risk of viral transmission. We see other local businesses taking incredible safety precautions, and we, too, will follow and provide our guests with the most up to date health and safety protocols.
Unless we commit to reopening safely, then I fear for a loss in the spirit of this place. Our island oasis is economically dependent on the tourism industry. Without visitors, our locals will suffer. As we begin the process of reopening lodging, I encourage you to see this as a symbiotic relationship. As visitors come to our island to enjoy some of the things we are lucky to be surrounded by every day, I encourage you to welcome them with open, appropriately distanced/masked, arms.
Our island visitors are not unwelcome intruders, but rather valued guests, an important part of what keeps our community alive and well.
Sincerely and with Gratitude,
Proud owner, Bird Rock Hotel and the Earthbox Inn & Spa