Spring Break Big Treat For Area Hotels
By Claudio Mendonca
Spring break was a big break for Miami hotels, where occupancy and room rates soared. County hotel occupancy jumped 13.9% March 20-26 from the same week last year, and room rates rose 23%.
County convention-tax collections jumped 12.8% that week, said Allen Eagle, county convention-tax manager, to $4.5 million from $3.9 million.
Miami-Dade’s hotels overall had 89.4% occupancy, up from 78.5% last year. Miami Beach hotels hit 92.5% during the week, up 22.8% from 75.3% last year. Downtown Miami hotels jumped to 85% occupancy from 80.9% – up 5.7%.
The key to success in spring break is diversifying the customer base instead of concentrating on college students as some other Florida cities do, said David Whitaker, vice president of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"The beauty of Miami is that we are not dependent on one market," he said. "Diversity of customer base helps enjoy success year-round."
"Compared to other top markets, Miami seems to be doing the best," said Scott Brush, an independent hotel consultant.
The average daily room rate in the county March 20-26 was $161, up 23% from last year’s $131. Beach hotels led the way with an average of $213.93, up 30% from last year’s $164. Downtown hotels jumped 15.9% to $137, from $119.
Tourist taxes also rose 15.2% to $1.7 million from $1.4 million. Food and beverage taxes rose to $546,000 from $531,000.
Besides spring break, the NASDAQ-100 Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne added visitors during the week.
Mr. Brush said Miami has been a favorite destination of young couples and newlyweds who are better off financially than the typical spring-break visitor.
"Miami isn’t terribly going after spring break," said Mr. Brush. "Tourists come over naturally because of the location and the city’s hip marketing."