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What’s New in Florida for 2021

With its year-round warm weather, pro-business governor and tourist friendly Covid-19 restrictions,

the Florida travel industry has been less impacted by the pandemic than other domestic vacation destinations. This is not to say it has not been impacted; it has. Tourism for 2020 was down 31% from 2019 levels. However, with the launch of regional and domestic tourism campaigns, the numbers are on the rise. According to Dana Young, President and CEO of Visit Florida, the regional Florida marketing campaign along with a domestic marketing campaign generated a 71% increase in travel late in 2020. This translates to over 750,000 room nights.


What’s New for 2021

Despite a rough year in 2020, the Florida tourism product continues to grow and evolve. Let’s take a look at some of the new tourism developments that your clients can expect as travel rebounds this year.


Regarding new airline service, there has been a trend towards increased capacity at smaller, regional airports. Among new developments, Jet Blue announced that it will extend its recently launched nonstop service from New York City and Boston to Key West from seasonal to year-round. Service from both JFK and BOS to Key West International Airport (EYW) is scheduled Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays.


Theme Park News

Never ones to rest on their laurels, Florida’s theme parks continue to add new attractions. Walt Disney World Epcot’s France pavilion will feature the much-anticipated attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, where guests will shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure. SeaWorld’s first launch coaster, Ice Breaker, coming in spring 2021 will feature four “airtime filled launches,”  both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest vertical drop in Florida. Busch Gardens’ newest addition, Iron Gwazi, will be a wood and steel hybrid coaster, featuring a height of more than 200 feet tall. The ride will feature all-new thrill elements, as well as restored elements of the original Gwazi. Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster will be unleashed at Universal Orlando Resort along with a pack of fierce Velociraptors with the debut of Jurassic World VelociCoaster in Summer 2021. This new species of roller coaster touts a series of intense maneuvers that will send guests catapulting up to 70 mph and more than 150 feet in the air with the swiftest of prehistoric predators.


Resort Industry Highlights

The recently opened JW Marriott Tampa Water Street is Tampa’s first luxury property, boasting over 100,000 square feet of artful event space, a Spa by JW®, and an atrium lobby lounge, among many other outstanding amenities.


The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is constructing a new tower that will include a 349-room hotel. The new tower will be called The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve and is scheduled to open summer 2021. 


The Caribe Royale Orlando is in the midst of a $125 million phased renovation that will include a complete renovation of all of its one-bedroom suites, the addition of a grand ballroom, and a new lobby featuring extensive lighting upgrades and a dramatic new arrival experience.


The new Ray Hotel of Delray Beach. in the highly coveted Pineapple Grove area of downtown, will feature tropical modernism architecture punctuated by living walls, multiple rooftop gardens, large-scale sculptures and art installations. The property will include 141 smart guest rooms with balconies and 20,000 square feet of pool deck with a restaurant and bar. Opening July 2021. 


Also in Delray Beach, The Opal Grand Oceanfront Resort & Spa has an enviable location overlooking the blue water and pristine beach of the Atlantic Ocean. It will feature 277 extra-large rooms including 89 suites and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a new, two-story restaurant overlooking the allure of Atlantic Avenue, and a spa grounded in wellness.


The 219-room Kimpton Key West marked the official completion of renovations to the group’s unique collection in March with its fourth and fifth Old Town boutique-style resorts, Ella’s Cottages, for groups and extended stays; and Ridley House, ideal for honeymooners and VIPs. 


AC Hotels by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach will boast ocean views, an open kitchen for European-style breakfast and specialty culinary events, a library, an expansive resort-style pool with cabanas and dining services, and 1,000 square feet of meeting space. Opening June 2021. 


Hampton Inn & Suites in Sarasota County is opening its first new hotel in the city since 1973. The hotel is a new prototype for Hilton and is near the new Braves Spring Training stadium,
CoolToday Park.


Fairfield Inn & Suites Marathon Florida Keys has launched an ambitious renovation project. Located about an hour from Key West and spanning Vaca, Fat Deer and Grassy Keys, guests can enjoy a tropical Middle Keys vacation. Jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards and more are available for rent from Deep Blue Dive and Marina onsite. A boat ramp at the hotel makes enjoying the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean easy. Sparky’s Landing Tiki Bar & Restaurant is a local favorite specializing in hand-crafted cocktails, tasty fresh seafood and live entertainment.


Opal Key Resort & Marina is the former residence of Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, and in 2021 was reimagined. Ideally located right on the waterfront of Old Town Key West, just one block from Duval Street. it is in the middle of all of the excitement that Key West is famous for.


In Miami, the Kimpton Surfcomber, an Art Basel-preferred hotel, situated oceanfront in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District, is currently in the final stages of a full rooms and public areas renovation featuring understated statement pieces, sleek Calacatta marble, teak molding and textured grasscloth. Additionally, Vines Cabanas at Surfcomber have also been recently reimagined with brand new furniture and fixtures.


The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort of Naples announced it will undergo a remastering of the resort including the addition of a new swimming pool, an immersive water activity experience, a new outdoor restaurant and bar and event lawn. New pools and water experiences are expected to be complete in May 2021. The enhancements will elevate the extensive amenities already available at one of Southwest Florida’s premiere luxury resort, known for its pristine beaches, championship golf, relaxing spa and innovative children’s programming.

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