National to delay 2020 opening

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 2:30pm
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The National Hotel will postpone its 2020 season opening out of an abundance of caution.

General Manager Julie Fuller, who has worked at the hotel for the past 37 years, said, “Right now we’re pushing back everything. We’re taking this one day at a time trying to stay healthy. We can’t bring people here and don’t want to bring people to the island, so we’re making the right decision for the island and the hotel.” She said the planned opening for the hotel is May 15, but added that may change. The National’s Restaurant will open later, probably closer to Memorial Day. She said the chef was working on creating a smaller menu for when “we finally get the all clear,” said Fuller.

Fuller said the hotel employs about 100 people in the summer, some of whom are students from overseas. Fuller said that as of now there are no plans to cancel the J-1 student visa program, which brings hundreds of seasonal employees to the island, but Fuller did say there was a temporary 60-day hold on the program, according to the agency she works with.

The iconic National Hotel, one of the first buildings that can be seen from the ferry as it pulls into Old Harbor, was rebuilt in 1903 after a fire destroyed the original in 1902. (Fuller says she still marvels at the fact that the hotel was rebuilt in about a year.) The hotel has 45 rooms and a full restaurant and bar.

Until the hotel opens, Fuller said, “We’re just staying positive for our guests, our staff, and the island.”

For more information on The National, please visit blockislandhotels.com.

The Block Island Times will help get the word out for Block Island businesses that are planning changes to your opening schedules for the 2020 season. Please contact editor Lars Trodson at (401) 466-2222, or at ltrodson@blockislandtimes.com.