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Businesses: Quake cleanup shouldn't deter tourists

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm •  Published: August 25, 2014
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"We've definitely had to make some last-minute adjustments for this week as people are assessing damage," said Sherry Laseke, whose family owns Saint Helena Wine Tours, a boutique luxury tour operator. "Everybody is dealing with broken glass."

The 19th-century stone-and-masonry Victorian buildings that form the core of Napa's downtown, and are part of the town's attraction to tourists, were hit the hardest by Sunday's earthquake. That included the Andaz Hotel, which suffered water damage and was declared uninhabitable on Sunday because of falling roof debris.

Front desk host Omar Hurtado stood outside with a push broom Monday, holding the door for the newly hired cleanup crews that had replaced the guests evacuated after the earthquake. The hotel is hoping city inspectors will clear it to reopen by the end of the week, he said.

"This is the time of year when we are sold out every night practically," Hurtado said, noting that the August, September and October grape harvest represents the busiest time of year for both vintners and the visitors who come from all over the world to see them work.

Even with the earthquake making headlines and the hotel closed, people have been calling all day for reservations, he said.

"It looks like everybody is OK with what happened. They'll come back," Hurtado said.

Cynthia Kroll, an economist with the Association of Bay Area Governments who studied the economic impact of the Bay Area's last big earthquake 25 years ago, agreed. Napa might have some immediate harm, but "I certainly don't expect it to have any long-term effects on the area."

Jake Gukowsky, 35, and his wife, Sarah, moved to San Francisco from New York last week and celebrated with a quick weekend trip to wine country. They browsed the Carneros inn winery Monday after having ruled out cutting short their vacation.

"In New York, they say it takes seven years to experience everything," Jake Gukowsky said. "In California, it's three days — wineries, an earthquake, and you're in."

A hotel closer to the epicenter, Holiday Inn Express near American Canyon, reported 10 cancellations and 500 telephone calls about quake damage, but remained 90 percent booked, said Gregory, of the tourism organization.

With the harvest just starting this week, he said, both the grape crush and the attendant peak tourist season should still be good, he said.

"The grapes don't know there's been an earthquake," Gregory said.

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Leff reported from San Francisco. Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed to this report.