Bike Week set to hit Daytona Beach

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Your motorcycle-loving clients need to accelerate their travel plans to find a hotel room here for Bike Week, Feb. 26 to March 7.

Hotel space is at a premium, tourism officials said. It is customary for hotels to impose minimum stays and higher rates during this period.

Bike Week activities include motorcycle races at the Daytona International Speedway, swap meets, rock and blues music, free concerts, a flea market, the Harley-Davidson Parade, a pig roast, an auction, a bike show and many other functions.

Bike Week in Daytona Beach, which runs longer than seven days, and its activities are expected to draw up to 450,000 people, helping the area fill its 13,000 rooms.

George Mirabal, president of the Daytona Beach-Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce, said that Bike Week was taken over by the chamber in 1988 after many complaints about rowdiness.

"Special events are, and will continue to be, important to us, but we want to keep them in a proper light. We want to increase substantially our family vacationers so that we're not so dependent on special events," Mirabal said.

Daytona Beach is looking to fortify its family market in part through more upscale development, he said. Several new family-oriented projects are in the works along Daytona Beach. More than $200 million in new visitor-oriented construction or renovation is complete, under way or scheduled. Highlights follow:

  • The first attraction to be completed for Ocean Walk Village -- Adventure Landing Waterpark and Entertainment Center -- opened last October. With what is said to be the first wet-dry super slide in the state, the park has five acres that include 12 slides and a three-level treehouse. Along the Daytona boardwalk, Ocean Walk Resort will have 299 oceanfront suites. Doubling as a hotel and residence, the resort will also have 175 condominium suites, 124 time-share units and a 5,000- square-foot conference center. It is scheduled to open in spring 2000.
  • The Adam's Mark Resort will add 310 rooms by 2000.
  • Ocean Center, across from the Adam's Mark, will nearly double its exhibit space to 146,000 square feet by late 2000.
  • In their search for new motorcycle-related tourism programs, Mirabal and other Daytona chamber representatives traveled to Sturgis, S.D. They went to experience the closest counterpart to Daytona's Bike Week -- the Sturgis Rally.

    According to a Sturgis source, an estimated 375,000 visitors turned out in 1998 for Sturgis Rally. They filled up rooms at all 11 motels there as well as all rooms in Rapid City, 27 miles away, and even at properties as far out as 70 miles, according to a spokeswoman for Rally & Races in Sturgis, which coordinates the event.

    Sturgis tourism officials also visit the Daytona Beach area looking for suggestions on improving their event.

    Daytona Beach-Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Phone: (904) 255-0981, Web: www.bikeweek.com. Daytona Beach Area CVB, Phone: (800) 854-1234, Web: www.daytona.com

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