South Florida hotels filled more rooms at higher rates last month compared to the same time a year ago, according to data from industry tracker Smith Travel Research.
Broward County hotels ran 87.6 percent full in February versus 86.3 percent in February 2012, while the average daily room rate last month was $151.54, compared with $144.10 last year.
Palm Beach County hotels saw occupancy of 86.1 percent and average daily rates of $197.43, the researcher said. That's up from 83 percent and $187.05 respectively from February 2012.
Among the tourism highlights last month was the launch of Southwest Airlines first-ever daily, nonstop seasonal flight from Pittsburgh to West Palm Beach, according to the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"This new flight provides a great opportunity for the Pennsylvania market to enjoy the exciting events during our destination's 'high season,'" CVB -resident and CEO Jorge Pesquera said in a March 6 e newsletter.
Meanwhile hotels in Miami-Dade County enjoyed 86.3 percent occupancy in February and an average room rate of $220.95, Smith Travel data showed.
Broward and Palm Beach hotels also saw small gains in January in both occupancy and daily room rates.
Year to date, Broward inns had an occupancy rate of 83.6 percent and average room rate of $146.22, while Palm Beach hotels were 81.9 percent full, with a $182.93 average rate.
As for March, early reports from area hoteliers indicate a strong spring travel season is now underway.
To that end, some hotels are already launching promotions to fill rooms during the traditionally softer summer season.
The Breakers Palm Beach oceanfront resort recently kicked off a summer promotion offering nightly room rates for the June 1 to Sept. 30 period starting at $299 per standard room Sunday-Thursday, and $379 on Friday and Saturday.
Broward tourism officials say the summer travel season dynamic is changing as more families opt to have their reunions here to take advantage of the value the destination offers.
"The spring travel season is the door to what used to be called 'slow season'," said Nicki E. Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
One program the Broward tourism agency is promoting is its Super Summer Savings promotion, running May 1 to Sept. 30. It offers two-for-one discounts at more than 30 area attractions.
"Book your stay on sunny.org and receive a $25 gift card to fill your gas tank, fill your tummy, or fill your shopping bag," Grossman said in a statement touting the savings program.
During the same period, qualifying visitors can also take advantage of the Vacation Like a VIP promotion that gives guests staying at any one of 11 hotels in the Lauderdale Luxe Collection, a free room upgrade, $100 resort credit and a $25 gift card, among other perks.
Lauderdale Luxe hotels include The Atlantic Resort & Spa, The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.
"Vacation Like a VIP is a great way for travelers to get the royal treatment at our Lauderdale Luxe Collection of hotels with a bargain price tag," said Grossman.
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