Florida's beachside hotels adjust to new social distancing reality

Some beachside hotels are starting to see a slight increase in guests as talks continue about reopening the state of Florida.

While some decided to close down, the Shores Resort and Spa has been riding out the pandemic.

“We’ve stayed open. We haven’t closed. You see a few places who closed, we’re trying to stay open just to give people that sense of hope that we’re here,” said general manager Rob Burnetti.

He said guest numbers are still in the single digits; however, he said he saw things start to pick up over the past couple of days.

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“I think when Georgia opened up, we started to see some more traffic, a little bit,” he explained. “We’re still running in the single digits in occupancy, much lower than we would normally be, but we have seen an increase in activity over the last couple of days,” he said.

Bob Davis with Volusia County’s Lodging and Hospitality Association also noticed more guests at beachside hotels, especially over the week. 

“I drive the avenue at 5:30 every morning, and I see little pockets of more people coming,” he said.

He said locals appear to be turning to “staycations” to escape pandemic fatigue.

“People just trying to get away even if they don’t have the disposable income,” he said.

Burnetti said he’s seen the local traffic at his hotel.

“A lot of folks from Orlando, some from Jacksonville, we’re seeing some people from Miami as well some from Georgia but mostly people coming from Florida,” he said.

Hotels like The Shores Resort and Spa have grappled to shift to social distancing friendly businesses. 

“We don’t go into a guest room. If somebody wants an item, we leave it at the door, knock on the door and step back…. let them get what they need,” explained Burnetti.

He said lounge chairs at the pool are spaced apart and guests are reminded of beach restrictions. He added common areas are deep cleaned and staff at the front desk is separated from guests by plexiglass shields.

The restaurant and spa remained closed. Burnetti said he’s using the slower time to increase precautions and ordering PPE and supplies.

“We want to make people feel comfortable when it’s time to travel again,” he said. 


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