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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 20, 2019 4 weeks ago

Brand new hotel opens just in time to shelter East Coast residents from Hurricane Dorian

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The hotel ultimately had about 80% of its 103 suites occupied in early September.

The timing could not have been better for the brand new hotel and those escaping Hurricane Dorian’s projected path.

Even though few, if any, desire to take advantage of those evacuating from, preparing for or recovering from a tragic event like a natural disaster, the Staybridge Suites Naples-Marco Island opened just in time to welcome a lot more guests than company officials originally estimated.

The extended-stay hotel, which officially opened Aug. 22, suddenly saw a huge uptick in customers reserving rooms. That was because Floridians living on the state's east coast saw Dorian slowly approach their communities with catastrophic wind speeds higher than every Atlantic hurricane in history, with the exception of tying the Labor Day storm of 1935.

The hotel ultimately had about 80% of its 103 suites occupied in early September, says the hotel’s general manager, Bruce Sonnenberg. But because Dorian halted over the Bahamas and then eventually drifted north instead of bringing its full brunt onshore into Florida, Sonnenberg says the hotel saw several cancellations at the last minute, when some people realized they didn’t need to evacuate. Initially it looked like the hotel was going to be booked solid.

The hotel, on Triangle Boulevard near the busy intersection of U.S. 41 and Collier Boulevard, is owned by Stacey Development LLC of Rochester Hills, Mich. Its managed by Twenty/Twenty Worldwide Hospitality, a firm founded by President and CEO Fred Hirschovits.

Following the sudden influx of unexpected reservations due to the storm, Hirschovits reviewed the many positive comments left by customers. He was pleased to see clients were happy with their stay at the new hotel, which he said is tied to his company’s philosophy.

“You can correct a mistake made by a computer, but you can’t fix rudeness,” he says. “You do not need permission from a boss to make a customer feel great.”

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