|By Tom Stieghorst, South Florida
Sun-SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Dec. 8, 2006 - A Hialeah Gardens wedding planner said Thursday that the $139 rooms she had arranged at a Miami Beach hotel in February were abruptly canceled when the hotel managers belatedly realized the reservations were for Super Bowl weekend.
Haymara Font, an event coordinator at Creative Florida Weddings, said she is trying to book alternate accommodations, but that even hotels well inland are seeking $260 to $290 a night for the Feb. 2-4 dates.
A call to the executive officers of the Deauville Beach Resort was referred to the catering department. Efforts to reach Stacy Gershon, the hotel's wedding planner, were unsuccessful.
Font said she thinks the hotel canceled the 13 rooms that were reserved for the wedding because it could make more money renting them to Super Bowl guests.
The complaint underscores how profitable the weekend can be for the hospitality industry in South Florida.
About 17,000 rooms have already been reserved by the NFL for teams, sponsors, media and corporate patrons of the league. The NFL fixed the prices in 2002 based on a formula of peak winter room rates in earlier years.
The balance of the 90,000 rooms in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are available for as much as the market will bear, although many of those rooms are reserved already.
At the Westin Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, about 95 percent of the 1,000-room hotel has been committed to the NFL, spokeswoman Michelle Shulman said. The hotel is sold out Feb.1-4 with a small number of rooms available on Feb. 5 at a rate of $405 a night.
Some hotels in Broward County expect to get up to $800 a night for suites this winter even when the nation's biggest sporting event isn't in town. An economic study of the 1999 Super Bowl found that rates for the game weekend were more than 50 percent above those for the same nights two weeks earlier.
Font said she reserved a block of 10 rooms at the Deauville in July because the couple's wedding rehearsal dinner is scheduled for the Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club in the lobby of the 484-room hotel. As of several weeks ago, 13 guests affiliated with the wedding had booked rooms, given out credit card information, and received confirmation numbers, she said.
When the hotel realized it had booked the rooms for Super Bowl weekend at the $139 rate, Font said it asked to approximately double the daily charge on the room. After Font's wedding client refused to agree, she said the 13 reservations were canceled Wednesday. Font said the wedding guests are all coming from cold climates and expect to be on the beach, but that many beach rooms are almost impossible to find less than two months from game day. "We are really, really upset about the whole situation," she said.
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