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Hurricane Ian's Damage Drives Demand For Florida Hotel Rooms

Ocean Manor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Ocean Manor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, hotels in South Florida are experiencing a sharp increase in demand as residents whose homes in southwest Florida were damaged or destroyed look to find shelter.

Occupancy has risen higher than average in extended-stay and budget hotels, according to STR data reported by The Wall Street Journal. Airbnb bookings were up 10% in Georgia and Florida compared to the week before and after the storm.

Rafael Velez, the property manager at the Ocean Manor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, told Bisnow in an interview Friday that 10% of his customers at the 125-room, sold-out hotel were staying there after their homes were caught up in the storm.

“Most of those people their houses got hit hard. Totally lost,” Velez said. "They don’t have a date to leave and keep extending, but we are already sold out. But I am not going to throw them out. They don’t have a place to stay."

He said the customers who booked rooms now being taken by hurricane evacuees were being redirected to sister properties, like Dolphin Isle Hotel and Suites 1.5 miles away. Data shows that the demand from those fleeing southwest Florida are driving prices and occupancy up for South Florida hotels.

Economy rooms in West Palm Beach saw room rates rise 7% and midscale hotels saw rates rise 16%, according to STR. Airbnb is experiencing similar circumstances, reporting activity totaling to 20,000 extra extended nights in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“I believe a lot of hotels are taking advantage of this situation. My owner does not believe in that,” Velez said.