LAKELAND - While most of the bustle of the Republican National Convention will encompass the city of Tampa, it doesn’t mean it’s exclusively there.
Many hotels more than 35 miles away in Lakeland are sold out.
“I don’t think we expected near as much as it has been,” said Mike Phillips, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott in South Lakeland.
More than a year ago, a federal agency booked an eight-night reservation at the Courtyard, filling the hotel to capacity.
The group also booked reservations at Residence Inn and Hampton Inn and Suites nearby.
“For the group that we had, they wanted a lot of rooms in a small number of hotels,” Phillips said. “So it was easier for them to do that I’m sure over here compared to what was booked in the Tampa area.”
Within the last couple months, Several small groups also filled up Imperial Swan Hotel and Suites in Lakeland. The hotel now has to turn people away.
“I don’t think during the Super Bowl Lakeland got the rooms we’re getting now,” said Rob Fredericks, GM of the Imperial Swan. “So it’s a big impact.”
Many hotels are also now hearing people who have an untimely business trip during the RNC.
At this rate, those travelers may soon need to expand their room search beyond Lakeland. While there are still rooms available, they’re going fast.
Of the more than three thousand rooms in the city, the Convention and Visitors Bureau says about half are taken by RNC-related visitors.
The industry couldn’t ask for it at a better time.
“During the summer we’re a little slower down here,” Fredericks said. “So for it to come now, it’s even greater.”
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