Centennial Plaza an oasis in dry tourism season for Labor Day

Centennial Plaza an oasis in dry tourism season for Labor Day

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Centennial Plaza is making a splash this Labor Day holiday. The property’s two hotels are almost sold out.

“That surpassed my expectations here at the property, and we’re excited about that,” said Centennial Plaza’s General Manager Randy Fanugao. “My staff is excited. I’ve been here on the Coast for a long time, and I’ve seen what this place was and where we are now, and it’s really super exciting and emotional at the same time.”

There already was enough pressure to perform for the plaza’s first major holiday since opening, but Fanugao also was facing a natural disaster with an algae bloom that has chased away visitors and crippled the tourism industry.

“We were kind of worried a little bit, but when we saw the numbers start picking up and as you can see, we have a lot of folks here on the property,” Fanugao said. “They’re trying out our restaurants, staying in the hotel and obviously, they’re still at the pool enjoying themselves.”

That’s the key: amenities, and you can’t get much better than a water park just steps away from your hotel room.

“It’s an awesome place,” said David Blaine of Biloxi. “It’s something the Gulf Coast has needed for some time. It’s great for even the locals. It’s not just for tourists.”

Blaine brought his family for a staycation. For him, there’s plenty of clean water to keep the kids happy.

“Honestly, I prefer to be in a place like this,” he said. “Because this is what really entertains the kids. I mean the beach is fun for a little while for the kids, playing in the sand and all, but they jump from slide to slide from one section of the pool to the other. So, it’s been great for us. They go to bed early. They’re wore out.”

Dawn Credo knew about the problem in the Sound before booking here, but it didn’t matter to her.

“Not at all,” she said. “We were coming here just to use the amenities that they have here. It’s enough to do that we don’t have to go to the beach. It’s been nice. Nice area, nice amenities, good drinks.”

Officials said they are looking forward to two other events that will bring even more people to Centennial Plaza: Chillin’ on the Coast Music Festival, Sept. 20-22; and Cruisin’ the Coast, Oct. 6-13.

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