As people look for things to do during the coronavirus pandemic, many are turning to the outdoors. Local outdoor recreation companies are implementing new safety measures to meet the increased demand.
“Business is robust,” Andy Kurtz, owner of Seaforth Boat Rentals, said. “We’re not competing with things we normally compete with like Seaworld or the movies. We’ve had to adapt, but it’s a good time to be in the outdoor activities business.”
The company was forced to shut down in March due to county health orders, but was able to reopen in the beginning of May. Since then, they’ve implemented several changes in order to meet county health mandates and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Now all customers must make reservations ahead of time. They’ve also cut down on some of their offerings, limiting kayak and paddle board rentals to weekdays only. They’ve also temporarily stopped overnight boat rentals. Despite the restrictions, Kurtz said customers have made the process easier than expected.
“Customers have been remarkable,” Kurtz said. “We have multi-generational customers in Coronado who have been coming for 20 years, who are like ‘What? We can’t just walk up?’” But once we explain, people are understanding.”
Kurtz has also implemented measures to protect his staff. Once he got the go-ahead to reopen, some of his employees had concerns. He was able to accommodate them and allow some to work from home as part of an expanded reservation team, a transition that has worked even better than expected.
“Going forward, I hope we get back to normal, but there are some things that we are actually doing better at, and will incorporate even after the pandemic,” Kurtz said.
Another outdoor recreation company in Coronado has also found a way to adapt to pandemic restrictions. Coronado Surfing Academy reopened in June, after four months of closures, with several safety modifications in place, but it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing.
“Between shark sightings, a pandemic, construction by Hotel Del, it’s been a surreal season,” owner Teevan McManus said.
He decided to cancel his annual surf camp and is only holding private lessons with people from the same household. The academy is also implementing new sanitization routines and conducting temperature checks for staff and employees. McManus says business has been good, and customers have been understanding of the situation.
“I don’t love disinfecting wetsuits or having my instructors wear masks, but I do love being able to help make people happy,” McManus said.
Although in the past his customers tended to be tourists, he’s noticed an increase in local interest recently.
“Our business is primarily, and has been, typically from fairly nearby: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico,” McManus said. “Recently, we’ve been seeing a lot of West Coast road trips. There’s also been a big uptick in local business this year, more than ever before.”
As a seasonal business, he says summer is usually go-time. But when it comes to looking ahead, like most of us, he is uncertain what will happen. Despite that, he is optimistic about what the future will bring.
“Our office is the beach and ocean, so as long as we have that, we can stay open.”