Lafrance Hospitality has withdrawn its plan to build a hotel on the corner of Main Street and Scranton Avenue. It’s too bad in a way; if a new hotel is to be built on Main Street, that corner would have been a good site. But will Falmouth lose something by not having another hotel? Probably not. The demand for rooms is currently being met with existing hotels and, more and more, Airbnbs and house rentals.
It is possible the visitor accommodation business is evolving on the Cape. It is difficult to ascertain when in the midst of it, but there is some suggestion of it. A hotel chain showed interest in a site in Mashpee and the town there couldn’t have been more welcoming. But nothing came of it. We don’t know why; maybe the chain determined there was not enough demand.
On the other hand, the Hampton Inn just completed a five-story hotel in Buzzards Bay. There is no clear trend here.
But there have always been trends. Big hotels were the order of the day when tourism first flourished in Falmouth. There was the Menauhant Hotel at the end of Central Avenue. There were the Terrace Gables Hotel and the Tower House in the Heights. And the Cape Codder overlooked Buzzards Bay in Sippewissett.
Clusters of little cabins became prominent in the 1950s. They were less common in Falmouth but there were many along Route 6A. Some still exist on the route down-Cape.
Motels also became popular with the rise of touring by automobile.
Then came the internet and the booming business of Airbnbs and an unprecedented ease in renting houses.
It is difficult to imagine Falmouth without hotels. There is Shoreway Acres with its sprawling lawn and proximity to Main Street and Surf Drive. The Sea Crest is not only right on the water, but it is also one of the few places one can dine while watching the sunset over Buzzards Bay. Those establishments are here for the long haul
But we have no crystal ball, and the wants and needs of visitors to the Cape may be changing in ways that are impossible to predict. Only the future will tell us for sure what is in store in the accommodations business.