With just days before Friday's Discover Orange Bowl matchup between the Clemson Tigers and Ohio State Buckeyes at SunLife Stadium, several South Florida hotels are savoring a boost in occupancy from hosting the teams and their traveling fans.
The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood is host hotel for the Buckeyes, while the Tigers are staying at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
"It's a good size and piece of business," Westin Diplomat General Manager Ed Walls said of the room, food and beverage revenue the hotel is generating from the team and some of its fans.
"We're very fortunate," added Walls of the lift in occupancy, noting the hotel has been an Orange Bowl partner since 2002. "The teams that come down are awesome and the fans are great."
For Walls, the Orange Bowl business is like icing on the cake during what is traditionally a busy week at the hotel from Christmas through the first weekend of the New Year.
The Fontainebleau also has 500 rooms booked because of the game out of a total of 1,504 units, Public Relations Manager Ana Lanzas said. "[It's] definitely a plus to have the game in South Florida."
Fans are getting pumped.
"I think we're going to win," said Mia Escoe, an avid Buckeyes fan Tuesday visiting the Westin Diplomat from Cincinnati, Ohio, with family. "I've been to every single home game this year."
Another hotel benefiting from the Orange Bowl is the Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale on Southeast 17th Street Causeway, where the media covering the event are based.
"This is the first year our hotel is hosting the media, who started arriving on Sunday and will utilize anywhere from 20 to 65 suites per night," Director of Sales Julie Russell said. "The group will also host several functions, which will generate food and beverage revenues."
In addition to the Embassy Suites being sold out, the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North on Andrews Avenue is also full Friday and Saturday, according to travel information on the Orange Bowl's website, orangebowl.org.
Buckeyes' fans staying at the Westin Diplomat are also taking advantage of the on-site Orange Bowl official merchandise pop-up shop to purchase team gear.
Logan Byers, 17, of Connecticut was among those browsing the store Tuesday.
"These are cool," said Byers of a $30 Ohio State Buckeyes Orange Bowl jersey. "I hope to get something before the game."
For fans looking for tickets to Friday's game, availability doesn't seem to be an issue, according to at least one re-seller StubHub.com.
"There are still over 2,800 tickets left for this game, so it is far from sold out, and fans have plenty of opportunity to attend," said StubHub spokesperson Shannon J. Barbara shortly after noon Tuesday when remaining tickets were priced from $30 per person.
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