Monday, February 19, 2018
Business

RNC hotel locations: It's not all about beaches and proximity

Looking at a map of the hotels that are housing delegates for the Republican National Convention, two trends stand out: They are either in or near downtown Tampa where the convention will take place, or they are near one of Pinellas County's white-sand beaches.

Except for two.

Walk out the door of the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport or the nearby St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, and you are miles from the nearest beach and even farther from the convention's epicenter, the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

At first glance, it looks like the delegates from Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico got the bottom of the barrel in terms of hotel location for the August convention.

But don't tell that to Ian Larson, general manager of the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, which will be hosting the delegates from Idaho. They will have the best of both worlds: a nice hotel in a location central to the entire Tampa Bay area.

The hotels aren't on the beach, but they're not far from it. And guests are close to both Tampa and St. Petersburg, not restricted to just one or the other.

When the delegates go looking for something fun to do — be it a trip to the beach, the waterfront shops of St. Petersburg or the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks — they aren't far away.

"We know and can make recommendations to all the areas," Larson said.

Bob Sauerwine, director of sales for the Holiday Inn at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport, which will be hosting the delegates from Colorado and New Mexico, agreed.

The Holiday Inn is just as close to the museums of downtown St. Petersburg as it is to the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa.

Just because his hotel is a bit further away from the convention, that doesn't mean it won't see plenty of action from visitors.

"The economic impact (of the convention) is on the whole area," Sauerwine said.

James Davis, director of communications for the RNC, said each hotel assignment was based on cost and the size of the delegation.

Convention organizers booked 16,000 rooms at 100 hotels in the bay area and still have to finalize the room assignments for the media, members of the host committee and law enforcement.

All of the hotels, Davis said, meet the organizers' high standards.

"These are all places that we would highly recommend to our friends and family," he said.

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