NATIONAL REPORT—Hoteliers are readying for Hurricane Michael—now a “potentially catastrophic” Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph—as it touches down in the Florida Panhandle. Life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall are imminent, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Approximately 28 million people are under a hurricane watch or warning, or tropical storm watch or warning, across six states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. An outpouring of support and preparations are happening as local hoteliers and major brands prepare for the worst.
Local Hotelier Lends a Hand
Florida-based Rosen Hotels & Resorts is offering distress rates to guests, opening the doors of its nine Orlando-area hotels with special distress rates for those affected by Hurricane Michael. The company is working diligently to assist evacuees seeking a safe home away from home. Guests may call (866) 337-6736 or visit www.orlandohotels4less.com/hurricane. The hotels will provide free WiFi and are pet-friendly, with no additional pet fee with the distress rate, according to the company’s website.
The following hotels will offer a distress rate:
- Rosen Inn International, 7600 International Dr., Orlando
- Rosen Inn closest to Universal, 6327 International Dr., Orlando
- Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, 9000 International Dr., Orlando
- Midpointe Hotel, 9922 Hawaiian Ct., Orlando
- Clarion Inn & Suites at International Dr., 9956 Hawaiian Ct., Orlando
- Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista, 8442 Palm Parkway, Lake Buena Vista
An Association Preps Its Members
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is readying its members ahead of the hurricane.
“As Floridians brace for Hurricane Michael, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has begun work to help members, residents and visitors alike prepare for the storm and its aftermath. Members of FRLA staff have taken our ESF-18 seat at the state Emergency Operations Center where we will work with the Florida Retail Association and the Department of Economic Opportunity to help coordinate lodging and food needs for emergency responders and evacuees,” said Carol Dover, president/CEO, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Dover continued, “We have encouraged members to prioritize safety in a variety of ways beyond basic storm preparation. FRLA has encouraged members to waive cancellation fees as the storm approaches. Our primary goal is always the safety of visitors, and we want to keep them out of harm’s way. Additionally, we have urged all members to extend hospitality to pets by relaxing any pet restrictions they may have. Many people are reluctant to leave their feathered and furred friends behind, and some will refuse to leave unless they can bring their pets with them. We hope that relaxed restrictions and pet-friendly accommodations will help motivate those in the path of the storm to heed evacuation warnings. To assist after the storm, FRLA has asked our members to register with FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering program, which provides short-term lodging assistance to evacuees who cannot return home immediately following a disaster.
“FRLA will continue to monitor the storm and stands ready to assist members, residents and visitors however we can before, during and after Hurricane Michael.”
Hotel Brands Focus on Safety
Several of the major brands have released statements regarding Hurricane Michael, focusing first on the safety of its guests.
“We are closely monitoring Hurricane Michael, and have implemented storm preparation protocols at our hotels in the predicted path,” said a Marriott spokesperson. “The safety of our guests and employees is always a top priority. We are in close contact with local authorities, and take guidance and direction from them as the situation warrants. We encourage those planning to travel to the storm area to check news updates for the most current information, and amend plans accordingly. Hotels in the impacted area are reviewing cancellation fees; details may vary by hotel. To modify or cancel an existing reservation, please go to Marriott.com, SPG.com, or the Marriott or SPG apps.”
“The safety of our guests and associates is our highest priority as we closely monitor the path of Hurricane Michael,” said a spokesperson at Radisson Hotel Group. “We are working with the Radisson, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotels in the forecasted path of the storm to implement storm preparations. Guests who have travel planned to potentially affected areas are encouraged to visit local news outlets for the most current information. For information regarding reservations, please contact (800) 967-9182.”
Choice Hotels is encouraging its loyalty members to donate points to the American Red Cross and will provide a points match.
“Our thoughts are with all those who are in the path of Hurricane Michael. We have approximately 60 franchised hotels located in the predicted path of the storm. Currently, our top priority is the safety of our employees, our franchisees, their staff and guests,” said a Choice Hotels spokesperson. “The Choice Hotels team is closely monitoring the situation and working with our franchised hotels to assist with emergency preparedness and notifying guests of closures. Guests can visit ChoiceHotels.com or call (877) 424-6423 for the most up-to-date information on availability, or to learn about waivers for cancellation and change fees, which vary by hotel. In addition, as a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program, we are encouraging Choice Privileges members to donate loyalty points that convert to cash in support of relief and recovery efforts; Choice will match up to 20 million contributed points throughout the end of this year.”
In addition, IHG is waiving fees for guests feeling with their pets.
“To ensure that we’re providing the highest level of hospitality for those seeking relief and comfort from Hurricane Michael, all IHG hotels in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida are welcoming pets free of charge and waiving hotel room cancellation fees during the impacted timeframe,” said an IHG spokesperson. “As the storm progresses, IHG hotels along the projected storm path may close or may reach capacity. Guests can call 1-877-424-2449 to discuss an upcoming reservation or visit www.ihg.com or the IHG App to make a new reservation.”
“Hilton continues to monitor the progress of Hurricane Michael as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico and toward the Florida Panhandle. The safety and security of our guests and Team Members is of paramount importance. All Hilton properties in the storm’s projected path have implemented their hurricane preparedness plan and emergency procedures. We remain in close contact with local authorities and our tourism partners,” said a Hilton spokesperson. “We encourage guests to contact 1-800-HILTONS for the most updated information on cancellation policies for hotels in the storm’s path. For information regarding Hurricane Michael, please visit the National Hurricane Center website at www.nhc.noaa.gov.”
“Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is focused on the safety and security of our guests and team members as we prepare for Hurricane Michael,” said a brand spokesperson. “We will be waiving cancellation fees for reservations this week in zip codes that are under evacuation and/or hurricane warning. We strongly encourage any guests who have questions pertaining to an existing or upcoming reservation to contact us at (855) 999-0847.”