ZFor two months, Usedom was no longer what it had been for decades, even in the GDR era: a popular holiday destination for Germans. Tomorrow Monday it should start again. Last week, holidaymakers from the federal state and business customers were allowed to arrive; the Atlantic was open in Bansin.
“Would you like room service?” Asks the receptionist. She is standing behind a plexiglass window, the guest is wearing a face mask. She hands the registration form and a ballpoint pen, which you can keep. The Seetel Hotels have ordered 10,000, a hygienically safe promotional gift, because they will not be passed on. Making beds and muddling through is only available on request, otherwise only the guest enters the room during his stay. The room looks very tidy: no brochures, no TV magazine, no decorative pillows, instead of glasses there are individually packed plastic cups, the bathrobes are packed in plastic bags, the remote control is in plastic with a seal on it. This is what the new hotel reality looks like.
“We always disinfected the remote control after departure, the guest just didn’t see it,” says Rolf Seelige-Steinhoff, managing partner of Seetel Hotels. The family company operates 16 houses and is the largest employer on the island with a workforce of 450. Now they want to show more how they implement the requirements
Summer of survival
But like thousands of other restaurateurs and hoteliers, Seetel hotels fought for survival. The hotel group has “well over a million personnel costs per month”, there are no seasonal workers on Usedom, everyone is happy to keep good employees. The Seetel Group is also currently converting seven houses, with an investment volume of EUR 34.2 million, in two years. Nobody accumulates so much liquidity. The almost three months accounted for a fifth of the annual turnover – and now the hotel beds can only be filled to 60 percent. Pentecost was super booked, around 80 percent, and now they have to cancel guests. And yes: some businesses on Usedom would not survive, says Seelige-Steinhoff. Because even if German tourism is booming now, it will hardly help the island because summer is always well booked anyway. Here everyone hopes that they will soon be able to operate with 100 percent occupancy – as in Schleswig-Holstein. And while the restaurants there are open until 10 p.m., Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania closes at 9 p.m.
Since guests from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern make up less than ten percent a year, it was very quiet on Usedom in the first week. You could walk alone on the beach, the first steps in freedom, it feels as if you have been bedridden for a long time and now dares to go out again. You can eat a chocolate ice cream in the Rialto on the pier, the cormorants are as tight as chickens on the black piles in the water. Here in Heringsdorf, the Idens crank up their beach chair rentals, heavy tractors bring the baskets, and the booth is set up. Usually it starts at Easter, the month is missing. There can hardly be a better place than a beach chair, “we are constantly ventilating”, says Natascha Iden. Of course, disinfection has to be carried out, “we hope the material can withstand this well”. They have been lending beach chairs for 20 years, and they serve mulled wine on the beach in winter, take part in the “Grand Schlemm”, a culinary hike, “it mustn’t be boring,” says Andreas Iden, “we always want to question our own actions, we do that now too. So they are considering offering catering in a beach chair with a star chef. People would now rather be outside than inside. Andreas Iden says: “You can now spend your time whining or desperate, or just rethink what you do. But wailing, that’s the worst. ”A landlady from 15 holiday apartments recently approached him as if she were almost starving. “If someone starts crying after a month of absence, then you did something wrong,” says Iden. In addition, the government has distributed so much money that one has to think about “at what level one is whining”.
The bike, means of transportation of the hour
Cycling is one of the safest activities in Corona times. And Usedom’s cycle paths are worth a tour in every season. UsedomRad has 2,000 rental bikes at 140 stations, you can rent a squeaky yellow bike with a cell phone with codes, and you can leave it at any other station. The system started in 2009 with funding from the federal competition “Innovative Public Bicycle Rental System – New Mobility in Cities”. In one of the few open cafés in Bansin, managing director Axel Bellinger explains that the locals also use the bikes, “if you miss the bus”, guests use it for long distances. The advertising revenue was important to him, the wheels are moving advertising pillars for local businesses. Bellinger now fears that they may soon lack the money for advertising measures.
“85 percent of the people on Usedom live from tourism,” says Rolf Seelige-Steinhoff from Seetel Hotels. Also bakeries and contractors, retailers and installers. You have to live with the corona virus, says Seelige-Steinhoff. In the Atlantic they point out the regulations and the mouth protection regulation to the guests and you keep your distance. And if someone should bring the virus in? If the guests are doing well, one can think about it, according to the hotelier, “that they quarantine here for 14 days”. Breakfast is then served in the room.