Last-minute bookings bring unexpected Labor Day boost to Orlando hotels

Many hotels reporting more than 50% occupancy rates, hotel leaders say

ORLANDO, Fla. – Many hotels in Orlando’s tourism district saw an unexpected boost this past Labor Day weekend thanks to last-minute bookings, according to the president of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association.

“What the surprise was that there were so many people that booked at the very last-minute, Thursday or Friday,” Rich Maladecki said, he is the president of the CFHLA.

Maladecki said last Tuesday he was seeing occupancy rates across Orlando for Labor Day weekend at 40-50%, but many hotel executives on a weekly call Tuesday morning say they were at more than 50% occupancy rate.

“Some of them capping at 80-85% occupancy,” Maladecki said. “One lodging executive today said they had 70 walk-in customers on Friday. That’s fabulous.”

Maladecki said many of those hotel executives were celebrating on the call Tuesday morning, but are cautiously optimistic of what it could mean for Orlando’s tourism industry.

“Everyone was smiling because it’s nice to have the best occupancy rates that you have run in over six months, that’s a positive, but everyone understands the reality of COVID-19 is still present and Septemeber is the worst month for travel in our destination.”

According to Maladecki, at the height of the pandemic, many of the hotels were running only single-digit occupancy rates, forcing closures and furloughs.

“It was tragic, everything came to a screeching halt,” said Jay Finklestein, he is the Assistant General Manager at the Rozen Plaza Hotel on International Drive.

Rozen Plaza shut down for three months, reopening in late-July. Finklestein said two of the eight hotels have reopened but was grateful Rosen Plaza also had a solid weekend of over 50% occupancy rates, he said.

“It makes us feel great to see our staff moving about, it’s reminiscent of days of January and February,” Finklestien said. “Just signs of hope, I know people will feel confident and they will continue to come out.”

Maladecki said safety has proven to determine whether guests will come and adds the decline in cases coupled with a VisitFlorida campaign targeting Floridians to explore the state helped with the weekend.

“This past Labor Day weekend shows us that there is hope and hope is such a strong emotion. I will suspect that we will see once the vaccine is finalized that we will continue to see hope for this destination.”

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