Oil spill has led to vacation deals in Sarasota
SARASOTA - A steady stream of customers has kept the Lido Beach Resort busy this summer. "We've made some changes and it has paid off," said Karen Rangal, regional sales director for the resort. Rangal credits aggressive discounts with making a difference 100 days after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill started. "We've seen our average rates drop considerably. ... We've had to put a lot of special offers out there, where before in March people came and gladly paid $300 and up per night," she said.The result is that profits have stayed flat, same as last summer when the recession hit business hard. "We've certainly cut back some (staff) hours where we can," said Rangal, who overseas three hotels in the area. But Rangal said she hasn't cut any jobs. She believes extra marketing by the state and county helped spread the word it's safe to come to Sarasota. "I'm optimistic," Rangal said. Old Salty Dog manager Bryan Spaulding feels downright ecstatic: "I think Sarasota is doing really well." "We've had an excellent summer," Spaulding said of the restaurant on New Pass. "We really have." Spaulding said having a good summer is crucial after coming off a record cold winter. Summer has proved a whole new story. As concerns about oil on local beaches subsided, a new wave of business has started filling seats at the Old Salty Dog. "We're seeing people from all over the country," Spaulding said. "It's just not staycations. We're seeing people from Iowa and Michigan; people that didn't come during the winter because it was so cold." "I believe there's a lot of pent-up demand and I believe we're going to have a good (winter) season," Rangal said. "We don't want to gain business from anyone else's loss, but we feel very fortunate that we're sitting in an area that has stayed as beautiful as it has so far," Spaulding said.
Reporter Jackie Barron can be reached at (813) 221-5708.