The number of Canadians travelling to the U.S. is up 5%, dodging the Trump Slump and keeping tour operators here upbeat about their sales volumes to U.S. destinations.
TORONTO — Sirata Beach Resort on Florida’s St. Pete Beach has long been a favourite with Canadian vacationers. Two years ago though, when the loonie was on its downward slide, a big drop in guest numbers from the Canadian market gave the hotel’s owners a bit of a fright.
“Two years ago the number of Canadian guests got really low and we got a little scared,” said Sirata’s Director of Sales, Cricket Wagner.
In 2015 the dollar was on a bumpy ride down, down, down to 68 cents and Canadians opted to save their travel dollars with staycations. Then they wised up and started travelling again, dollar be damned. And at the Sirata, which enjoys an enviable location right on sunny St. Pete Beach, the Canadian market bounced back. “Last year it really picked up,” said Wagner. And the numbers continue to climb.
Wagner is in Toronto this week for the ASAE conference and to meet with industry partners. She joined trade and consumer travel media last night at an industry dinner at Hy’s Steakhouse in Toronto, to showcase the Sirata’s new product updates and promotions.
Ready to embark on a major renovation project that will see refreshes to all 382 rooms, the Sirata has news about its room rates as well.
In what Wagner says is a first for a Florida hotel, the Sirata is offering an all-inclusive plan. More accurately, the Sirata is bringing back its all-inclusive plan. One of the area’s last family-run resorts, the Sirata was bought by a Texas-based company earlier this year and the new owners soon saw the potential for the plan, which had been temporarily shelved.
It’s a great value: leading in at US$399 for two people, the Sirata’s all-inclusive plan covers nightly accommodation in a one-bedroom king suite, three meals daily and unlimited drinks. The all-in price also includes the resort fee, taxes and tips. Kids staying in the same room can get the same plan for an extra $75 per child, and there’s a four-night minimum.
Travellers heading to the Sirata for vacations starting in spring 2018 will find beautifully renovated rooms with wood-style ceramic floors and a light and airy new colour scheme, with new case goods that just came in last year.
St. Pete Beach is as beautiful as ever and offers vacationers all the ambience of classic Florida beach vacations from days gone by. Height restrictions have kept St. Pete Beach resorts from becoming skyscrapers and while some in the hotel industry here are frustrated with the restrictions – as they see the construction of glittering new hotel towers in nearby Clearwater – the laws have ensured that St. Pete Beach retains its laid-back charm. Most of the resorts here are independently owned, “so they can do what they want” and truly cater to guests’ needs, rather than be hemmed in by a hotel chain’s corporate dictates, adds Wagner.
Sirata Beach Resort has three dining venues, including two very popular beach bars, plus more than a dozen restaurants within half a mile. The 382 rooms come in 14 different styles and offer generous space. Room renovations are set to begin in late November and should be completed by March or so, she says.
In addition to the all-inclusive plan, Canadian vacationers looking to save money should check out rates over U.S. Thanksgiving: “Low occupancy and a great time to go”, says Wagner. High season for the resort runs from the end of January through the end of April. “We sell out every weekend except for the weekend before Labour Day,” she adds.