The New Jersey Shore icon Lucy the Elephant will welcome guests as an Airbnb this week, six months after the pandemic delayed what will be historic overnight stays.
The Airbnb listing for three one-night stays in Margate’s giant wooden elephant were booked within seconds in March. Three pairs of guests from New Jersey and Pennsylvania were supposed to stay in the six-story elephant that month. But the pandemic shut down both Lucy and the Shore.
In June, an empty Lucy reopened for tours of limited capacity. Now, with new cleaning protocols in place, the inside of the elephant will transform into a Victorian-style Airbnb to host guests Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
No one has stayed overnight in Lucy since 1902, when a vacationing British family lived there for the summer. The nonprofit Save Lucy Committee, which preserves and maintains the 138-year-old National Historic Landmark, turned the structure into a temporary Airbnb to attract attention and money for a major paint restoration project.
Airbnb donated an undisclosed amount to the nonprofit as part of the promotion. The stays cost $138 per night, a nod to Lucy’s age.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that it’s finally going to happen,” said Rich Helfant, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We’re glad we’re able to do it now because the weather is still perfect and [guests] can still experience much of the Jersey Shore with the guidelines in place.”
The nonprofit and Airbnb decided to wait to welcome the overnight guests until New Jersey permitted indoor dining, which Gov. Phil Murphy approved on Sept. 4.
To prepare for the guests, the elephant closed to tourists last Monday. Cleaners wearing personal protective equipment will sanitize the inside of the elephant between guests, which include Lucy the Elephant enthusiasts from Atlantic and Cape May Counties, and a western Pennsylvania resident who has never been to the Shore but loves staying in quirky accommodations.
Lucy will reopen to the public on Sept. 28, and visitors will be able to walk through the elephant and see the new Victorian-era furnishings through the end of the year.