Miami CVB, hotels aim to make kids, adults 'happy'

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MIAMI -- The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is focusing its attention on the family market. The bureau is trumpeting its family-friendliness as part of a $2.2 million print and broadcast ad campaign using the slogan, "What Makes You Happy?"

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is promoting its family-friendliness in a worldwide campaign. Above, a view of Miami's skyline. Families seeking to develop some positive memories after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be be able to accomplish that in the Greater Miami area, officials said. As reported, a new Web site, www.whatmakesyouhappy.com, lists value-added offers from hotels and attractions.

Among the family attractions are Parrot Jungle, Miami Seaquarium, Miami MetroZoo and extensive beaches along the Atlantic -- from South Beach north through Sunny Isles and on Key Biscayne. The region also offers attractions such as National Football League and Major League Baseball games as well as Everglades National Park.

In addition to the worldwide ad effort, 28 bureau members completed a Florida sales mission earlier this month. The group, including representatives from Amtrak, promoted agency-generated, in-state travel to Greater Miami. A reception briefed travel agents in Tampa on what the area offers families and other visitors. A trade show was staged for agents in Orlando, along with a dinner and trade show for retailers in Jacksonville.

The bureau said increasing the number of visitors who arrive via Amtrak or by other ground transportation could help offset some of the losses of airline passengers. The airlines delivered around 95% of tourists to the area before Sept. 11, a bureau official said. Because of the favorable (for tourists) supply-and-demand situation, there are some attractive family deals. A sampling follows:

• The Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami created a Home Away From Home plan, available Dec. 9 to Dec. 31. The program features a $129 nightly room rate for adults, with a second room for family members ages 18 and younger available for $40. For more information, call (877) 89-DORAL.

• The Ramada Miami Beach Inn pays 15% commission on all stays completed by April 30, and also throws in an Alamo economy car rental and a Princessa casino cruise. Nightly rates range from $89 to $119, single or double, through Dec. 19 From Dec. 20 through April 30, the prices range from $135 to $150. There are no age restrictions on children sharing a room with an adult. Guests must be ages 25 or older to rent the car. For information, call (800) 272-6232 or (305) 531-5771.

• The Hotel Ocean in Miami Beach introduced a program for vacationing families who cannot bear to leave their pets at home. For $19.95 per night, plus tax, the pet (cat or dog) will receive treats at check-in and turndown and walking service. There is a limit of two pets per room. The pet plan is not commissionable but can be used in conjunction with any of the 27-room boutique property's commissionable "people" packages, including the Lap of Luxury and Deep Sleep. Package prices range from $200 to $600. For details, call (800) 783-1725 or visit www.hotelocean.com.

• On Key Biscayne, the Sonesta Beach Resort is promoting a nightly $195 room rate with a second room free through Dec. 20. The resort is paying 20% commission on bookings received by Dec. 20, regardless of the travel dates. For information, call (800) SONESTA.

Families visiting Greater Miami also will have a new lodging option. Set to make its debut is the 422-room Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort in Miami Beach. Because of construction delays, the opening was postponed from Dec. 1 to Jan. 14. However, a "soft opening" is anticipated before then, according to Velton Showell, director of sales and marketing. Families will find nightly rates ranging from $249 to $599. The property, which touts itself as "kid-friendly and pet-friendly," will feature 150 suites. For children, Showell said, a beach concierge will be available to provide toys. The property is a project of Miami-based Peebles Atlantic Development Corp. The hotel will be the first African-American-owned and developed, full-service beachfront resort, according to Six Continent Hotels, parent of Crowne Plaza Hotels. For reservations, call (800) 2-CROWNE.

Among Miami Beach events for families is the 25th annual Art Deco Weekend, Jan. 18 to 20, along Ocean Drive in South Beach. The festivities will include live entertainment, big band concerts, guided tours of the Architectural District, an antique car parade and classic auto exhibit. Other highlights are street theater, sidewalk cafes, street vendors, impersonators, antique and art exhibits and a lecture series. Recently opened was the Art Deco Museum and Welcome Center, at 1001 Ocean Drive. Admission is free.

For more information on the area, agents can check the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site, at www.tropicoolmiami.com. Retailers also can call the bureau at (800) 283-2707.

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