Make us your home page

Hotel offers discounts during hurricanes

As Hurricane Irene strengthens into one of the worst coastal threats in years, one South Florida hotel is offering a way to take advantage of the storm.

Solé on the Ocean, a resort on Sunny Isles Beach near Miami, now offers discounts pinned to the strength of gathering hurricanes. The deals, lasting through November, are advertised as "a reason to celebrate Hurricane Season."

A Category 1 hurricane cuts 10 percent off a room price; a Category 5, 50 percent. Each named storm will carry an extra perk: If Philippe or Sean become active, guests win a free hour of paddleboarding or bottle of champagne.

The promotion has faced blowback, with some calling it a gimmick dependent on disaster. The timing is also unfortunate: On this week 19 years ago, Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida, becoming one of the most destructive hurricanes in history.

"If you've lived through one, you've lived through the fear," said Russ Kimball, an inductee of the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame and 30-year manager of Clearwater Beach's Sheraton Sand Key.

"If a hotel has a good conscience, you want to try and help the situation," Kimball said. "I don't know why or how you would want to capitalize on it."

Tom Feeley, co-owner of Solé on the Ocean, defended the promotion, calling it a way to win back guests scared off by news of distant storms.

"It's not that we're making light of it," Feeley said. In his view, the hotel is saying "that just because there's a storm out there doesn't mean you can't come and enjoy the beach."

Five percent of the proceeds from reservations will be donated to a "hurricane relief fund," he said, though he didn't know which one.

The promotion would still stand if a hurricane was headed toward the 24-story, 249-room resort, Feeley said. "But we would probably not encourage people to come stay here."

Darlene Kole, president of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, called the hotel's idea an "ingenious marketing tool," and some hoteliers thought the idea sounded creative. But none of them planned to copy it.

"If you're a savvy marketer in today's environment, that's a good thing," said John Marks, who manages the Loews Don CeSar Hotel. But "I wouldn't want to have a promotion plan centered around where a hurricane's going."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or

Hotel offers discounts during hurricanes 08/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 12:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.