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Open-Palmed Approach

South Florida Hotels Reach Out To Local Residents With Solutions

Friday, April 03, 2020
Steve Pike
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The COVID19 virus is hitting South Florida hard. At the height of the popular and profitable Winter Season, resorts, hotels and restaurants – from Palm Beach to the Keys - are either closed or working on restricted schedules.

Among those closed are the three top luxury resorts in Palm Beach County – The Breakers, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa and Boca Raton Resort & Club. But that doesn’t mean South Florida isn’t fighting back in order to save its present and near-and long-term futures to attract leisure guests, as well as meetings and business groups.

Leading the way in that endeavor is Discover The Palm Beaches, Palm Beach County’s official tourism marketing arm.

Discover The Palm Beaches (DTPB) has been proactively sharing information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Florida Department of Health – including precautionary measures for travelers – via its website and social media channels.

Before any COVID19 cases were confirmed in the county, for example, DTPB initiated a closed meeting with Palm Beach County Health Department director Dr. Alina Alonso and community partners, including representatives from local hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. Dr. Alonso also held an educational presentation and open Q&A session, to ensure the community had the latest knowledge to respond appropriately.

“Our message is ‘we’re ready when you are with open ‘palms,’’’ said Jorge Pasquara, president and CEO of DTPB. “We’re a unique collection of small cities and towns. We’ll be ready when (visitors) are ready.

“Without a doubt. I think (hotels and restaurants) are going to come out with a big bang once it’s safe to travel and congregate and have meetings and conventions. But in the meantime, the best we can do is be transparent with information. Our group sales and leisure sales people continue to call on our customers to tell them we know that these are crazy and uncertain times, but we know that holding meetings is a part of their livelihoods, and we’re here to help when things open up. We hope the meetings (business) comes back in a strong fashion once the safety has been proven. We are very much counting on a big return,” he said.

In the meantime, DTPB is staying close to home. For example, the DTPB website offers a list of County-wide attractions offering “social distancing’’ experiences and a constantly updated list of restaurants with curbside/takeout service.

DTPB is also working with Palm Beach County’s social services and housing department to create an inventory of hotels willing to house people who want to separate themselves from family members who have tested positive or have shown symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

“That’s really a significant change to our approach,’’ Pasquara said. “We’re hoping to get the message to community. We’re typically selling and messaging everybody outside of Palm Beach County, but now we’re turning that focus to residents of Palm Beach County to support those businesses in the short term and mid-term.’’

Many open hotels and resorts in Palm Beach County – and throughout South Florida – also are doing their part to help residents and visitors through the COVID19 crisis.

For example, Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotel & Luxury Villas in Delray Beach is offering affordable extended and long-term stay options for their large kitchenette studios and apartment-style, one-bedroom suites. This is being done in an effort to support destination visitors who have been displaced, wish to avoid return travel, or are attempting to stay away from public spaces during this time of heightened precaution.

Crane’s also has instituted substantial measurements to safeguard guests while the threat of exposure to COVID19 remains of heightened concern in the country. This includes a “no contact” guest relations process that ensures all guests can continue to receive personal attention and servicing needs without ever coming into direct contact with property staff. The process includes remote check-in and check out and entry-free amenity deliveries.

The Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, meanwhile, is limiting overnight stays to government and medical workers, as well as distressed/displaced travelers, while the B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale Beach is offering a rate of $79 per night (book through May 15 for stay before June 30) for guests including healthcare professionals and first responders; airline crew members; National Guard and law enforcement members; and displaced residents, visitors and college students.

Steve Pike
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than ...
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