Spring Break a Big Splash for Florida Hotels – STR

Spring Break Pool Flips - Unsplash
Spring break a big splash for Florida hotels

Spring Break 2021 didn’t just dive in, it made a cannonball-sized splash for Florida hotels and other U.S. destinations.

When looking at STR’s School Break Report, 39% of college students and just 7% of K-12 students were on break beginning 6 March. Despite this slightly low percentage, all signs pointed to a strong spring break period right out of the gate. The STR-defined Florida Keys market, at that point, was the only U.S. market to reach an 80% occupancy level—at 85.9% for the opening week of March. Other markets, such as Sarasota (75.4%), Fort Lauderdale (72.5%) and McAllen/Brownsville, TX (70.5%), were lower but all above the 70% mark.   

The following week provided a similar percentage of students on break, but Saturday, 13 March and Sunday, 14 March, is when things really began to heat up. Those dates showed the highest percentage of college students on break at one time (66%). Concurrently, roughly 32% of K-12 students were on break for the respective dates. During the second week of March, the Florida Keys market was once again on top in terms of occupancy (88.0%), followed by Daytona Beach (86.1%).

A hotel occupancy heatwave

The week ending 20 March is when the Florida markets reached the peak of spring break. The Florida Keys once again had something to brag about—a 95.5% occupancy level. In comparison, the 2020 level for the comparable week was just 52.6%. While that might not be viewed as an achievement because last year was pandemic-affected, how about this? The 2019 level for the comparable week was 92.5%. That’s right—the market achieved a greater occupancy level than what was seen pre-pandemic. For the week ending 20 March, occupancy indexed at 103, meaning that occupancy was 103% of what it was in 2019. This is what STR defines as “Peak” when discussing recovery. The second-highest occupancy market for the week, Sarasota (91.8%), reached the same indexed comparison of 103.

The heightened occupancy and pre-pandemic milestone were surely lifted by the percentage of students on spring break for the week—college (roughly 34%) and K-12 (roughly 25%) between 15-19 March. Combine those stats with 20 March, where roughly 46% of college students and 38% of K-12 students were on break, and you have a brewing recipe for success. An added ingredient is that a large amount of both Florida college and K-12 students were on break during the period.

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