Make us your home page
Instagram

North Pinellas hotels expect big business boost from Tampa's Republican National Convention

CLEARWATER

Forgive your local hoteliers for the dollar signs in their eyes: They're preparing for the business equivalent of what one called "seven Super Bowls in one." With hotel assignments announced last week for delegates who will attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa Aug. 27-30, North Pinellas resort leaders are bracing for a windfall during what is normally one of the sleepiest tourism weeks of the year.

"In late August? You couldn't dream this one," said Jack Guy, a spokesman for Sheraton Sand Key, who predicted that hosting the delegates from Oregon and Illinois would triple his resort's typical business. "This is just a golden egg."

Ten North Pinellas hotels will host 16 delegations — including those from New York, Florida, Puerto Rico and American Samoa — for the Republican convention, which will usher Tampa Bay onto the national stage. Most local hotels expect full bookings and plentiful profits from providing rooms, meals, meeting space and entertainment.

And the announcements last week are just the start. Only a third of the convention's 105 designated hotels and just under half of their 16,000 rooms are set aside for convention delegates. Other facilities not part of last week's announcement — including behemoths like Clearwater Beach's swank Sandpearl Resort and Hyatt Regency — will likely house Republican staffers, the media and others among the convention's 50,000 visitors.

The convention, North Pinellas hotel leaders said Friday, couldn't come at a better time: four weekdays in the slow "Twilight Zone" between summertime family vacations and the post-Labor Day resurgence of corporate retreats.

Hotels that would have been half-empty then have allocated about 90 percent of their rooms to the convention. The six-story Wyndham Garden Clearwater Beach, where all 110 rooms are reserved for Kentucky convention delegates, is considering hiring new employees to help cope with the crowds.

Republican Party representatives will coordinate many of their delegates' needs, like the hundreds of buses that will be required to ferry them from Pinellas to the convention site, the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa. Party officials from across the country will begin flying here this month to check on rooms and organize events.

But hotel leaders will still face a host of demands they wouldn't see in a typical week. For example, delegates will expect to be served breakfast all at the same time, will return from Tampa in the late hours, and will seek some meal variety over the course of their weeklong stay.

"When you feed 350 people for breakfast, you have to be very efficient," said Marriott Suites general manager Philippe Eversdijk. And he added, "People don't eat steak five nights a week."

Some new services may be available, and even some new facilities.

For example, at the Sheraton Sand Key, where delegates could fill more than 300 rooms, a third-party vendor will be allowed to set up shop to sell RNC merchandise.

And Shephard's Beach Resort, which is hosting South Dakota delegates, is rushing to double the size of its waterfront stage.

Although hoteliers may be spending some money to prepare for the influx, they are expecting something in return: advertising. Many hope that delegates will return home with high praise for North Pinellas' bays and beaches, its palm trees and water views.

"It's going to be a very, very nice piece of business. No doubt about it," Wyndham Garden general manager Nigel Duffett said. "This is an opportunity to show it all off."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

North Pinellas hotels hosting delegates

•Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key: Rhode Island, Virginia

•Holiday Inn Clearwater-St. Petersburg Airport: Colorado, New Mexico

• Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Clearwater Beach: Montana, Washington

•Hilton Clearwater Beach: American Samoa, New York, Puerto Rico

•Innisbrook Resort: Florida, South Carolina

•Safety Harbor Resort & Spa: Tennessee

•Shephard's Beach Resort: South Dakota

•Sheraton Sand Key Resort: Illinois, Oregon

•St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater: Idaho

•Wyndham Garden Clearwater Beach: Kentucky

North Pinellas hotels expect big business boost from Tampa's Republican National Convention 05/05/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 5, 2012 1:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  2. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals

    Business

    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating high school, Andrew Kashella, in between jobs, knew what he had to do.

    A sign on a front window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales, 37517 Us Highway 19 N, in Palm Harbor, notifies people they are under restructuring  The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received 20 complaints against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. Complainants say they sold the shop their boats and never got paid and/or paid for boats they never received. Pinellas County Consumer Protection is leading the investigation.
  4. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting

    Wildlife

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  5. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.