Miami is bracing for a flood of spring break travelers as hotel bookings soar

Miami is bracing for a flood of spring break travelers as hotel bookings soar
Spring break visitors on Miami Beach in 2017.Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
  • Spring break travelers are flocking to Miami despite COVID-19.
  • Miami hotels are seeing 90% occupancy rates for weekend bookings during the spring break season.
  • However, spring break will look different this year due to safety protocols and restrictions.

Like every other event during COVID-19, this year's spring break will look different from years' past. But despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, springtime vacations in Miami are still on.

Similar to last year, Miami Beach has implemented COVID-19 safety protocols through spring break from February 22 through April 12. This includes a curfew in Miami-Dade County from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m, capacity limits on some public beaches, and an uptick in police presence. Alcohol consumption will also be banned from public beaches during this "high impact period."

However, these limitations aren't stopping many travelers: Miami's 2021 spring break season will likely be the busiest time for the city's hotels since COVID-19 first hit the US, according to Wendy Kallergis, president and CEO of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association.

Occupancy rates at Miami hotels are hitting all-time highs since the start of the pandemic

Miami is bracing for a flood of spring break travelers as hotel bookings soar
Miami Beach during spring break in 2017.Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Jan Freitag - the national director for hospitality market analytics at STR, a hospitality data and analytics group - is predicting that Miami, and all of South Florida, will do "quite well" during the spring break travel season into the potential summer travel boom.

Occupancy rates in Miami hotels grew from almost 42% in October 2020 to nearly 55% in January 2021, according to data from STR. During the week of Feb. 14 to Feb. 20, these rates skyrocketed to 76% - which was down 14% from the same week last year, just before the pandemic started impacting travel.


Now, hotels in Miami are looking at 90% occupancy rates for Thursday-through-Sunday stays during the spring break season, Kallergis told Insider.

Among those is Mint House, a business travel and tech-oriented hotel chain with two Miami locations that have been seeing "extremely high" occupancy rates ahead of the spring break season, Will Lucas, CEO and founder of Mint House, told Insider in an email statement.

In February, Mint House's Miami hotels hit an occupancy rate of more than 95%. They're now heading into March with a 70% rate, but Lucas expects them to push past 90% by the end of the month.

Both Miami locations are now booked every weekend through April 5.

Differences compared to non-pandemic spring breaks

Miami is bracing for a flood of spring break travelers as hotel bookings soar
Spring break in Miami in March 2020.Lynne Sladky/AP Photo

There will be some changes compared to previous Miami spring breaks, however. Events that have traditionally drawn people to the city - including Ultra Music Festival and large work conferences - have been canceled, which could decrease the number of springtime visitors. The county's curfew could also put a damper on late-night beach parties, and many Miami hotels are still asking guests to wear masks.


"If you are coming here with an anything-goes party attitude, change your flight reservation now and go to Vegas," Raul Aguila, Miami Beach's city manager, said during a city-council meeting, The Wall Street Journal reported. "Miami Beach is not going to tolerate anarchy."

And the uptick in bookings may not be driven solely by college students, like in years past. Many students are still remote, and several colleges have taken precautionary steps to prevent the traditional "spring break" from happening.

Instead, Freitag thinks the surge in Miami bookings can be tied to "American consumers at large" looking to get out after being stuck at home for so long due to COVID-19.

Kallergis also predicts these travelers will be spending more time at their hotels' pools, restaurants, bars, and patios instead of roaming around the city.

"I think the hotels are ready," Kallergis told Insider. "They're definitely staffed up, and they're hoping for even more business inside their properties."