Sunday, 27 May 2018
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Sarasota stars on TODAY show travel segment

Sarasota stars on TODAY show travel segment
05 May
7:08

Nothing happens in a vacuum, as the pithy adage goes. This was proven once again Friday with the national exposure of Sarasota as a great place to visit for “the quintessential beach vacation.”

So said Travel + Leisure travel director Jacqui Gifford as she stopped by “Megyn Kelly TODAY” on Friday morning to tout four destinations ideal for Memorial Day weekend. Sarasota joined Denver, Chicago and the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in the recommendations. Gifford gushed to Kelly about the “perfect white sand” on Lido and Crescent beaches, the great shopping in Southside Village and the wonders of the Siesta Key Palms Hotel.

Credit Visit Sarasota County for a steady stream of pitches to various media outlets about the beaches, the culture, the sports and all things Sarasota. Lynn Hobeck Bates, VSC’s communications manager, struck gold with her efforts to snag the interest of Travel + Leisure and she worked directly with the publication on Friday morning’s piece.

This coup came fresh on the heels of Thursday’s VSC celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week — with awards presented to some of the county’s best ambassadors for visitation.

After the Megyn Kelly piece aired Friday, Visit Sarasota County president Virginia Haley called the free promotion “terrific.”

She said what she “particularly enjoyed” was the show’s recommendation of “one of our smaller boutique hotels.”

Developer Henry Rodriguez converted a historic 1950s hotel just east of the southern bridge to Siesta Key into a tropical paradise with small private courtyards outside all 21 rooms, adult and family pools, tiki hut and an outdoor dining and barbecue area nestled among hammocks. He spent $1.9 million on the spring 2016 purchase and another $800,000 on the transformation.

“Henry did a great job on that property,” Haley said.

The Siesta Key Palms Hotel earned a Certificate of Excellence in 2017 from TripAdvisor and currently ranks as the No. 2 hotel out of 51 in Sarasota, as 75 percent of the website’s reviewers gave it the highest rating.

“The rooms are really colorful, done in the Old Florida style,” Gifford said in the report. Kelly was quite enthusiastic about the peace and quiet offered by an adults-only pool.

Haley said she called Rodriguez after the piece aired. “Their phones were ringing off the hook.”

Which proves marketing matters. Visit Sarasota County notes that it hosts or helps more than 250 travel writers annually from various media outlets, including print and online.

“We pitch these media outlets frequently and sometimes it takes time for it to evolve into a story,” Bates said. “Patience is key.”

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