ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Visiting the Sunshine State from southern Illinois, Stacey Harrington said there’s no place she’d rather be for Memorial Day weekend.
“People are just ready to get out and come to Florida,” she said. “They’re tired of Illinois. I know I am.”
Harrington said it is her family’s 15th stay at the Bon Aire Resort, just steps away from the soft beach sand and the warm gulf water. Their last visit was July 4 of last year.
“It’s been a little more crowded at restaurants and things but otherwise it seems the same at the resort,” she said.
Home to some of the highest rated beaches in America, the resorts and hotels in Pinellas County are trying to keep up with a built up demand as the country tries to move out of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve had people calling all week or month cause they’ve been calling everywhere up and down the beach and they’re desperate to get in anywhere,” Bon Aire Resort manager Andrew Denault told 8 On Your Side.
With the summer season underway, businesses like Larry’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor and Gelato are hoping for a boost from the big beach crowds.
“Oh my gosh beach traffic is back, which means we’re back in business full time in the summer, its been great,’ said Katelynn Barreda, an assistant manager at Larry’s.
While not an issue at his hotel, Denault said others are having trouble hiring enough staff.
“We’ve heard of stories of other hotels that people are trying to check in at nice suites and stuff and they can’t get in until 11:30 at night because they don’t have the people to do the work,” he said.
Denault said the forecast for the summer is looking great with many reservations already made for August and into September.
After all 81 rooms were occupied over the holiday weekend, Denault said there were few open rooms for Monday night before all of them will be filled up by Thursday heading into next week.