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Hotels feeling storm's effects

September 19, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

At the Comfort Suites on Dual Highway, Front Desk Supervisor Teresa Justice was busy Thursday morning dealing with two kinds of customers - "people running from" Hurricane Isabel's effects in Washington County and "people running to" Hagerstown from areas harder hit.

"It's been a little bit of both," Justice said. "We've had some cancellations, but we've also had some reservations." She anticipated more guests as the storm reached the coast Wednesday afternoon.

A sign outside the Clarion Inn, also on Dual Highway, welcomed refugees from the storm. Front Office Manager Matt Stoops was having the same experience as Justice.

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"We've been receiving some cancellations, but we also have some more people staying over," he said. Stoops hoped to have more guests coming in on Wednesday afternoon. "We're completely prepared if we do," he said.

His counterpart at Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway, Monica Mullens, reported she was "getting reservations from people running from the coast; and we're losing people who don't want to be around" for the storm.

Over at the Holiday Inn Express off Halfway Boulevard, runaways started arriving on Monday, said Sales Director Sharon Smith. A NASCAR group, toting cars belonging to the late Dale Earnhardt, was ordered late Tuesday to move further west, she said.

Guests from Solomon's Island, Md., and Cape Hatteras, N.C., came in Tuesday, she said, and were "worried they might have come the wrong direction." But she said there hasn't been a large increase in the hotel's guest list. "Most people went further west," she said.

Up the road at Motel 6, a front desk clerk who declined to give her name said she was "busier than usual" with an influx of people Wednesday morning. They were "coming from all over," she said.

Some hotels, like the Clarion and the Sleep Inn & Suites, off the Sharpsburg Pike near Prime Outlets, were offering special rates to guests fleeing Isabel.

"We're getting a lot of reservations," said Karen Bonto, who was working the front desk Wednesday at the Sleep Inn. "We're trying to accommodate everyone. We expect there'll be some flooding."

Among those seeking shelter at the Sleep Inn, she said, were members of the National Guard.

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