Hourly rentals used to mean something very different at urban hotels, but these days it's a great ways to get locals on grounds to spend money and boost future recommendations.
Summer is known as staycation time for locals who want a quick weekend getaway at bargain prices.
These days, South Florida hotels are offering an even quicker option: daylong packages for those who don’t want to spend a night away from home.
Call it the daycation.
“We found that a lot of people don’t have the time to travel so much anymore,” said Lucy Martin, general manager of the Shore Club in Miami Beach. “They still like to enjoy all the facilities of the hotel. A day at the pool or a day at the beach, they don’t have to do much planning. It’s really making full use, it’s just not staying overnight.”
The Collins Avenue hotel has offered several spa-and-pool packages in past years through deal websites such as Groupon and now has its own $99 promotion running through Aug. 30 that includes massage or facial, scalp massage, custom eye mask, fruit smoothie and pool pass.
That offer, dubbed the “Spring Fling,” is new this year. Martin refers to customers who take advantage of such deals as “the one-day traveler” and said most are local.
“People preferred to do lots of smaller visits rather than plan a whole two-week vacation,” she said.
Other local hotels have found the same. Summer daycation packages are being offered at several Miami Beach resorts as well as off-ocean locations including Mayfair Hotel & Spa in Coconut Grove and Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale.
Options range from budget-friendly ($25 for use of the fitness center, pool, towels and WiFi at the Savoy Hotel in South Beach) to splurge territory: $175 for a spa treatment, lunch and run of gym, beach and pool at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
Josh Herman, the Miami Beach hotel’s director of marketing and public relations, said “A Day at Fontainebleau” started around Valentine’s Day, after the spa director fielded multiple requests from clients who wanted access to the pool as well as the spa treatment areas.
Herman said the promotion was slow to catch on but interest has grown significantly. The hotel sold a couple hundred packages last month and plans to continue the deal at least through summer and possibly into the fall.
“We run very high occupancy annually; sometimes it’s even tough to get into the hotel, let alone use the facilities,” he said. “It allows locals and people in the community to act like a tourist in their own town.”
While the Savoy and Fontainebleau promote their own packages, other hotels work with deal companies such as Travelzoo, which is selling day packages at several hotels in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Some of those deals offer discounted spa treatments plus pool access; others just highlight their pool or beach amenities and throw in a drink or snack. Some come with date restrictions or limit the total number of packages sold.
Mike Stitt, vice president and general manager at Travelzoo, said the travel deal site has been offering such deals at spas and hotels around the world for about the last four years.
“I would say the concentration has probably accelerated every year as different resorts and properties see the success of their peers and understand about how valuable and lucrative the local audience can be,” Stitt said.
Courtney Lasch, 35, of Miami Beach, is a prime example of that local audience. The private tutor gets daily deal emails from multiple sources, including Groupon, Gilt City Miami and Travelzoo. One recent deal, a $35 beach day for two at the Hilton Bentley (champagne, valet parking and beach chairs, towels and umbrella included), caught her eye.
“Immediately I was just like, OK, not only does it look fun, it’s almost like a little staycation,” she said. “It’s a vacation in a day.”
She and a friend spent a “fabulous” weekday earlier this month on the sand in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood, stopping for some happy hour mojitos after a day in the sun.
“This was so inexpensive for two people,” she said. “The reason why this caught my attention was it was so affordable….Everything was included. I was being pampered like I was at a spa without the spa price.”
The hotel’s general manager, John Lacle, said the hotel decided to offer the deal as a way to launch a marketing campaign for locals to join the Hilton Bentley’s beach club.
“It’s an opportunity to widen the scope of the hotel’s capabilities to the local market,” he said.
Travelzoo’s website showed that as of midweek, nearly 550 people had purchased the deal. Lacle said he’s been pleased with the results.
“From a pricing point of view, we’re looking to create more value for the local clientele because we feel it’s the local clientele that will come back time after time,” he said.
That’s the kind of loyalty the Mondrian South Beach is trying to foster with its $99 massage and pool day package as well as a general policy that allows locals to use the pool area — if it’s not too crowded with guests — as long as they spend at least $50 on food and drink.
“Miamians, to us, are huge,” said general manager Steven Hiblum. “Whether you stay here or not, we want you here.”
At Coconut Grove’s Mayfair Hotel & Spa, which has a $149 massage-facial combo plus rooftop pool access, daycations are a way to drive locals to the Jurlique Spa and keep business brisk during summer, when occupancy is a bit lower.
“In the summertime, we obviously focus on the hotel, but the big focus is on driving the local business,” said general manager Axel Gasser.
Miami hotel consultant Scott Brush said the packages can make good business sense for hotels because the guests-for-a-day add a revenue boost without requiring additional capital investment from the properties.
“They’d like to get them to stay over for a night, but this allows them to get people who aren’t going to stay over for the night,” he said. “The incremental dollar is very nice because the incremental cost is minor. The stuff they are giving away is very, very, very low cost.”
(c)2014 The Miami Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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Photo credit: The pool cabanas at the Fontainebleau. Marianne O'Leary / Flickr