Coast motels "revving" up for Cruisin' the Coast

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One year ago, the South Beach Hotel opened just before Cruisin' the Coast hit the streets.  The property did well, but what a difference a year makes.  The computer booking screen is proof of that. All full.

Matt Markopoulos is the hotel manager.

"Most of it is repeat business. A lot of our cruisers last year kind of came in on a whim, found us when they got down here and came in right away. And then before they left, booked again for this year," Markopoulos said.  "A lot of people have actually pre-paid to make sure they get the rooms that they want."

When the cruisers come, they spend a lot of money.  And they are treated like royalty at the Super 8 in Biloxi, according to Manager San Naqvi.

"We do extra things for the cruisers because they are the best thing to happen to our coast since I've been here, and I've been on this property for the past ten years," Naqvi said.

Historically during Cruisin', hotels along the beachfront have done very well. But the migration of cruisers has headed to the north near the interstate. Hotels there are booked as well.

One of those I-10 properties is the Hampton Inn in Jackson County. Manager Brandon Turner said not being on the beach doesn't seem to matter.

"We get a lot of regulars that like to come back year after year that like to stay here," Turner said.  "It's close proximity. They can get on the interstate or even go down to Highway 90 and get where they need to be, whether it's Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs. So we do really well."

Cruisin' was created to help the coast tourism escape the fall doldrums.  Has it worked? Turner has no doubts.

"October is historically where we do start slowing down. Less tourists come to the area. So it's a great kind of little kick there."

And that kick will help the tourism wheels keeping turning for months to come.

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