A collapse in demand for overnight stays since the Covid outbreak in March has left Florida hotels scrambling to fill an ongoing revenue crater.
One way they are trying to survive the pandemic is by renting rooms, or access to facilities, for daytime use rather than on an overnight basis.
Perhaps typical is a new offer by the Melia Orlando Celebration hotel. Its Work-from-Melia offer is pitched as a "curated remote work experience." For $80, guests get the use of a one-bedroom suite for the day, two desks, a desktop computer, laptop dock and deluxe lumbar-support chairs. Access to the hotel's conference rooms is also available if guests need more room to work.
Also included is access to the hotel's room service or the 360 American Bistro & Bar. Rooms also have a view of the hotel's infinity pool, which perhaps would not do a whole lot for productivity.
If a guest decides to extend the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours into an overnight session, the price is $89.
"We had been noticing quite a few people coming into our restaurants looking for a quiet booth," said Sally McKissick, director of sales and marketing for Melia. "We said, 'Wait a minute, we have these great suites, a full kitchen, living room, patio, etc.' What if we provide this idea of work from home with these rooms that already have a dedicated desk and free high-speed WiFi and so forth?"
To sell workspace for the day, it helps to be in a busy area like the W Miami in the city's Brickell Avenue financial district, which is also home to a number of condo complexes where workers reside. The W created a special offer in August in which workers can rent a room Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $99.
The offer has been attracting about five to 10 bookings a week, said Gregory Polino, area general manager for the St. Regis Bal Harbour and the W in Miami. "We see a lot of the young professionals that used to rent offices at WeWork and who worked together in Board Room and Meeting Room and all those things," Polino said.
Another source of business is executives from states where families are contending with variable school schedules.
"There are some hybrids where one week the kids go to school, another week they don't. On the weeks the kids don't go to school, they actually travel to Miami, from New York, from California, even Canada," Polino said. While the executives work, the families use the amenities and often stay for the weekend, he said.
At the Melia, two of the Work-from-Melia guests have been international, McKissick said. Some are from states such as New York and Michigan, while others hail from the Orlando and Tampa metro areas.
The Melia Orlando Celebration generally pays a 12% commission to agents on overnight bookings. "For any travel agent that books this package, we will make sure that something is worked out for them," McKissick said.
The Inn on Fifth in Naples is offering a Peace & Quiet package for remote workers at $116 a day through Oct. 29
Success with the work at the hotel concept has not been a breeze at all properties. The 119-room Inn on Fifth in Naples crafted a Peace & Quiet package for remote workers that included complimentary WiFi and valet parking, use of the rooftop pool and fitness center and a six-foot work table featuring four ports for charging electronics.
The $116-a-day offer runs through Oct. 29. Through early October, there had been one inquiry and no bookings, Inn on Fifth revenue manager Shanda Williamson said.
Meanwhile, other Sunshine State hotels are aiming their stay-for-the-day offers at more of a leisure target. The Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles, for instance, is offering day passes starting at $40 that offer access to the beachfront, grotto-style pool; the oceanview lap pool; beach chairs and umbrellas; and showers. Cabanas are available starting at a daily rate of $300.
In Orlando, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, the Omni Orlando and the Hyatt Regency Orlando are among the hotels with similar, if not identical, day passes.