Reluctant Fisherman Inn offers quarantine with room service

Inn drops rates 50% for new arrivals undergoing mandatory 14-day self-isolation

The Reluctant Fisherman Inn has opened 30 rooms for arriving workers undergoing self-isolation. (April 29, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A stay at the Reluctant Fisherman Inn includes all the necessary amenities: meals delivered in sealed plastic bags, regular wellness checks and, of course, a complimentary mask to go with your pillow mint.

The Reluctant Fisherman has opened 30 of its rooms at a 50 percent discount, offering arriving workers somewhere to wait out their 14-day mandatory self-isolation. It’s a decision co-owner Sylvia Lange hopes will pay off for Cordova, if not for her business.

“Fishermen are broke this time of year,” Lange said. “But if you have a service, you want it to be used.”

Self-quarantine is no one’s idea of a dream vacation, but Lange has tried to make the experience as un-purgatorial as possible, furnishing all rooms with microwaves and refrigerators and greeting new arrivals with a “welcome bag” containing snacks, toiletry items, gloves and a mask. Plastic freezer curtains have been used to engineer traffic flow, directing guests from the lobby to their rooms. In theory, guests should have no need to reenter the lobby after checking in, Lange said. Communally used appliances like vending machines have also been shut down. Additionally, the inn will furnish some cleaning supplies to guests.

“We are going to treat everybody as if they have the virus, and as if we could pass it on to them as well,” Lange said. “That’s what you have to do.”

Welcome bags are given to guests arriving for a two-week quarantine at the Reluctant Fisherman Inn. Photo courtesy of the Reluctant Fisherman Inn

Although the Reluctant Fisherman relies on Cordova’s yearly influx of fishery workers for its revenue, Lange disagreed with Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s decision to partially reopen Alaska’s business sector. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for arriving fishermen to comply with social distancing mandates on their vessels, Lange said. It was in light of these concerns that she and her husband Greg Meyer chose to partially reopen their own business.

“The city’s plans will be great so long as everyone who comes here is well already, and stays well,” Lange said. “I really worry about the people who get sick and need a place to convalesce. I don’t really see how they can. People come to town to live on a boat — a boat isn’t a good place to convalesce. It’s a work platform, and you certainly can’t do any social distancing on a gillnetter.”

While the inn plans to offer regular wellness checks for guests, Lange is concerned for the welfare of fishermen working alone, she said.

“I’m going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Lange said. “Whether we have a business this time next year, we shall see.”


Vivian Kennedy contributed to this report.