DAYTONA BEACH — As the procession of thousands of Jeeps departed the World’s Most Famous Beach on Sunday, area hoteliers and tourist-related businesses applauded the impact of the annual Jeep Beach, a weeklong gathering that drew an estimated 200,000 visitors and 20,000 brand-specific vehicles.
“It was a great week,” said Rob Burnetti, general manager of the 212-room Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores. That hotel was among many that were booked solid for the event, especially in its closing weekend.
“We had lots of Jeep Beach folks that sold us out for the weekend, so it was good business all the way around,” Burnetti said. “With (average daily room) rates, it was very similar to what we’ve seen all year long, an escalation over previous years.”
The story was the same at hotels owned and operated by Ormond Beach-based Elite Hospitality Inc., said Manoj Bhoola, the company’s president and CEO.
Elite’s roster of area hotels includes the Ormond Beach Best Western Castillo Del Sol; the Best Western Plus International Speedway; Hampton Inn by Hilton Daytona Speedway Airport; and the Hilton Garden Inn at Daytona Beach International Airport.
“The Jeep Beach event had a positive impact on our three International Speedway hotels’ occupancy and rates,” Bhoola said. “It’s an essential repetitive event that filled our hotels and restaurants and provided us crucial revenue to continue recovering from the pandemic.”
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Now in its 19th year, Jeep Beach has become a beloved annual gathering due to its fervent national fanbase that turns out in big numbers to fill area hotel rooms and restaurants, as well as the event’s focus on raising funds for worthy causes.
Incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity in 2017, Jeep Beach has donated over $2.8 million to area charities over the past decade through the event’s annual weeklong fund-raising efforts. Recipients include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia & Flagler Counties; the NASCAR Foundation; the Childhood Cancer Foundation, as well as more than 30 additional nonprofit groups.
In 2021, the event raised a record-setting $500,000 for charity.
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On Monday, Charlene Greer, the event’s executive director and chairwoman, said that this year’s event is poised to match that figure or potentially top it.
“It typically takes a month for us to reconcile our records, but we certainly anticipate seeing the same giving power that was generated from Jeep Beach 2021,” Greer said. “The event was extremely successful and received well by everyone who participated in our festivities. As well, we had wonderful feedback from our community as a whole.”
The date for next year’s 20th anniversary edition of the event is set for April 23-30, 2023, she said.
“We are honored to represent our beautiful community where we all work, live and play,” Greer said.
‘Wonderful, wonderful people’
The event’s impact on area businesses and charities also was praised by Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County.
“It was another successful Jeep Beach week,” Davis said. “They are wonderful, wonderful people who were all over Volusia County at restaurants, gift shops and hotels. It had a major monetary impact on our area. We’re glad to have them and we’ll be glad to have them back.”
In the restaurant realm, Jeep Beach fans offered a boost in business at the Charlie Horse restaurant, a family-owned fixture for more than 25 years on State Road A1A in Ormond Beach.
“It’s a nice crowd and we’re always happy to have them,” said Lori Dupree, general manager. “We haven’t had a chance to look at the numbers yet, but we know we definitely saw some increased sales.”
At Hard Rock Hotel, which hosted a two-day “Jeeps At the Rock” beach party tied to the event, occupancy during Jeep Beach was at 98%, said Androse Bell, general manager. In addition, average daily room rate during the event jumped from $230 in 2021 to nearly $300 this past week, he said.
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A portion of the hotel’s revenue generated during Jeep Beach was donated to the event’s charitable efforts, Bell added.
“Demand was through the roof,” Bell said. “Hopefully, a lot of local restaurants and shops did well, too. They (Jeep Beach visitors) came to spend some money.”
At One Daytona, which also hosted a Jeep Beach event across the street from Daytona International Speedway, rooms were sold out at The Daytona Marriott Autograph Collection hotel and the Fairfield Inn & Suites, said Nancy Guran, director of sales for both hotels.
“Jeep Beach, as always, filled up both of our hotels Thursday through Sunday and offered some high occupancy dates earlier in the week,” Guran said.
Nearby, Jeep Beach also offered a boost at the 64-room Quality Inn Daytona Speedway, just across the street from Daytona International Speedway, although occupancy failed to match rates generated by the event in previous years, said Deborah Bailey, general manager.
“We could have done better; we weren’t completely sold out,” Bailey said. “Still, it was a good event and we enjoyed everybody. We didn’t sell out either day (on the closing weekend), but we did OK. It was still an excellent event.”