Hotels Switch from Race Mode to Evacuee Aid

By Bauerlein, David; Barker-Benfield, Simon | The Florida Times Union, July 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

Hotels Switch from Race Mode to Evacuee Aid


Bauerlein, David, Barker-Benfield, Simon, The Florida Times Union


The postponement of the Pepsi 400 at Daytona Beach freed

thousands of badly needed hotel rooms for evacuees and

firefighters caught up in the state's worst siege of wildfires.

"We're kind of relieved that they canceled the race, because

now we can get the people in here who really need it, like the

fire personnel and the evacuees," said John Hawman, general

manager of Hampton Inn in Debary, midway between Daytona Beach

and Orlando.

"We're still running a full house, but it's shifted gears from

the race to fire personnel," Hawman said.

But, in Daytona, the hotel business is in a tough situation.

The 322-room Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort on Daytona Beach has

51 rooms available on what is usually one of the busiest

weekends of the year.

On a Fourth of July, its $115-a-night rooms go for $269.

But not this year.

There have been massive cancellations and, as a result, the

hotel is giving firefighters, their families and evacuees a

break.

The hotel is hosting some firefighters and their families

without charge, said Mike Zemball, a hotel staffer and former

Jacksonville resident.

If you are an evacuee, the hotel is discounting its regular

$115 rate to $39.

Some hotel employees also have had to evacuate their homes, and

the hotel is picking up the tab, he said.

At the Red Carpet Inn on U.S. 1 near the east end of Interstate

4, business was lost because the cancellation of races has not

been replaced by business from firefighters or evacuees. The

motel is onethird empty.

"We have 10 rooms available," said manager Neil Patel

yesterday.

Farther south, at the Comfort Inn in Orange City, the hotel has

kept the state Forestry Division updated on room availability,

with the state booking rooms as they come open, said Deborah

Cohen, front desk manager.

Hawman said that for hotels farther from the fire zone, rooms

are more available, even though the Fourth of July weekend in

Florida is usually booked solid. …

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