Hotels hope the Tropical weather continues to avoid SWFL during pandemic

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Flamingo Inn. Credit: WINK News.

While Southwest Florida remains out of the forecast cone for Tropical Storm Laura, businesses on the beach are breathing a sigh of relief but still staying prepared. They tell us they can’t take another blow on top of the pandemic.

We look at what Southwest Florida businesses continue to do to stay afloat Friday during uncertain times.

Businesses say this time is all about making the most of the weekends. That is when they are seeing the most foot traffic, and that is what is keeping the doors open. That’s why they’re relieved the storm is not predicted to affect their businesses over the weekend and they’re hoping it stays that way the rest of hurricane season.

It’s a time where every customer and every booking counts, so there’s no room for a slow weekend, not even for a possible storm…

“We had a couple cancellations, but then some folks re-booked,” said Gary Lee, the cleanliness compliance director for Pink Shell. “So it’s still really holding strong this weekend.”

And it’s the weekends that are keeping hotels such as the Pink Shell afloat after a hard hit from the pandemic.

That’s why Lee says it’s so important that guests keep staying even through hurricane season.

“For the associates here at Pink Shell, that we keep them working and keep them busy, as well for the economy of Southwest Florida” Lee said.

Joerg Eifler with the Flamingo Inn says he’s seeing a lot less business than a normal year, and he did see dips in business when Hurricane Isaias was brewing.

“Slow season is even slower than it has ever been. I’ve not seen this in 20 years,” Eifler said. “With the last tropical system, yes. There was a drop that weekend.”

But like many other Fort Myers Beach businesses, Eifler just hopes storms won’t get in the way of the little business he does get on the weekends, so he can continue to push toward recovery.

“It’s the only time we really have some business is the weekends, yeah,” Eifler said. “As long as we don’t have the Fridays and Saturdays or the upcoming holiday weekend, if it’s not going to happen those three days then, we’re fine.”

Hotels also told us the winter months are a big money maker, when people from up north come down to visit. But with the coronavirus still in the picture, bookings aren’t looking good right now.

“No one is booking far out,” Lee said. Everyone is waiting until the last minute. Up until about five to seven days, we will see the bookings versus months out.”

The hotels we spoke to say the rebound has been slow since the start of the coronavirus and hope it continues.

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