A Maine property management company advertised short-term luxury rentals last week to people from highly populated areas looking to come to Maine before summer.

The advertisement, delivered via email to about 2,700 recipients, promoted “delivery and curbside pickup options” from Maine restaurants and specialty markets as an amenity.

For Apex Luxury Rentals to market the properties to out-of-state visitors during the coronavirus pandemic struck India Menninghaus, a Munjoy Hill resident, as insensitive and insulting.

“I feel like we don’t know very much about how this is spreading, (so) promoting people to travel when the government is explicitly telling people to stay at home is inappropriate,” said Menninghaus, who received the email and contacted a reporter.

Apex did not mean to advertise a vacation or put anyone at risk, Apex spokeswoman Katie Brunelle said.

“What we intended was not for people to come up and have a vacation, but to come up and use this time to safely quarantine in one of our furnished properties,” Brunelle said.

In an email disseminated Friday, Apex offered its short-term, furnished rentals to give guests a home away from home “during the new normal.”

It advertised homes with yards and nearby trails and beaches for families with children, and said specialty markets and restaurants still have delivery and pickup options, “so we are fortunate there are ways to eat well while supporting local businesses.”

Apex is a six-person rental and property management company that offers furnished short-term and vacation rentals and standard leases on unfurnished residences.

The company’s email newsletter goes out every two weeks to about 2,690 people, Brunelle said. The email list is largely local, and so far they have had no out-of-state rental requests based on last week’s message, she said.

The company needed to evaluate how it could stay open and help support the community, Brunelle said. Pointing to local food options was consistent with how it has always promoted community businesses, she said.

With aggressive social distancing and shelter-in-place orders enacted in states across the country, the company’s marketing is changing day to day, Brunelle said.

“At this point today, we would not be asking folks to come into Maine,” she said.


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