Skip to main content
Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, May 1, 2009 11 years ago

Luxury luster falls off resort market

Share
First, there were the rumors that some of the state's highest of high-end hotels were thinking of cutting the word resort out of their names, lest it be considered too upscale when businesses are weary of being slammed for luxurious trips.

The storm clouds looming over Florida's top line resorts are getting thicker.

First, there were the rumors that some of the state's highest of high-end hotels were thinking of cutting the word resort out of their names, lest it be considered too upscale when businesses are weary of being slammed for luxurious trips. And a few of the Gulf Coast's tourism agencies are considering toning down marketing efforts that are based around the region's beaches, for similar reasons.

Even the Breakers Hotel & Resort, the Palm Beach hotspot that caters to jet-setting stars and global executives, has thought about dropping its five-star rating so it could appear to be less lavish.

Now comes this: Coffee Talk hears that a subsidiary of Wells Fargo recently canceled a retreat and meeting scheduled for TradeWinds Islands Resort in St. Petersburg. The company canceled the event just two days before it was scheduled, fearing that if word got out that bankers were at a resort it would look bad — especially considering the parent company has taken federal bailout money.

The cancelation was completely cosmetic, as the bank still had to pay for pre-arranged airfare and cancellation fees. But TradeWinds still lost out on as much as $250,000 in revenues, from spa outings to restaurant tabs.

To be sure, the recession has played a big role in forcing the state's resort industry into the conflicting position of making luxury not seem as luxurious. But Katherine Songster, a spokeswoman for the Longboat Key Club and Resort, says the stink on the industry is both unfounded and unfortunate.

Songster says that what sometimes gets left out of the story is that resorts have large payrolls and high employee counts — a recession antidote. Cancellations only work against that.

“We have been seen as the den of excess,” Songster says, citing all of the resorts in Florida. “Probably the only place that has it worse is Las Vegas.”

Related Stories

Advertisement