Day 69: My New “COVID-19 Battle Plan” The Vacation Rental Debacle


Does anyone else feel like they are living in the Twilight Zone?

Sometimes I wake up and forget about COVID-19, briefly. Other times, I see something from a movie and think, ‘We should do that!” Sadly, I have forgotten WE CAN’T DO THAT ANYMORE! Not yet anyway, and maybe not ever.  Social Distancing? I am trying! (Ask my husband! He will tell you I am very trying!) I am appalled by the need to do the tango with people that have no respect for the 6’ rule! I step back, they step forward. You would think that the mask would indicate I have a high degree of concern!  How about the grocery store? It is virtually impossible to social distance in our little, tiny, beach Publix store! Maybe only 15% of the patrons are wearing masks. Another 25%, at least, do not follow the directional flow signs. It is CRAZY!

You know what else is crazy? The Vacation Rental Debacle! At the end of March, the Governor of Florida signed an Executive Order (EO 20-87) that meant we could only accept reservations for 30 or more days moving forward. All existing reservations for shorter terms that had not or would not check in by 3/28/20 had to be cancelled. For my company that was more than $260,000 in reservations. But the hotels were allowed to stay open. The Governor said that was because he had to billet the National Guard. Yeah, right! Oddly enough I have not seen them at the Don CeSar or the Post Card Inn here on St. Pete Beach. Meanwhile, I furloughed all my people except for one to handle the phones and spread the message that we would still be here when the Governor lifted the ban. The Governor took heavy flack for what was widely regarded as the unfair discrimination against the vacation rental industry. Nonetheless, he persisted and when the original executive order was set to expire by extending it INDEFINITELY! (EO 20-122) There was again huge push-back from vacation rental management companies and and property owners. One of the owners I work for wrote to the Governor as a tax payer in the State of Florida. This was a fact that he clearly pointed out in his letter, stating that he owned several vacation rental properties here in Florida and paid not only property taxes; but also, sales and lodging tax. The Governor wrote back that he had no right to petition him, since he was a resident of California! Say what? The Governor, in his infinite wisdom, and feeling the force of the pressure, did what every great leader does NOT – HE PUNTED THE BALL. He then directed every County in Florida to put forward their plan for re-opening vacation rentals. To add insult to injury, this was just before Memorial Day weekend. I operate in Pinellas County. They submitted Monday, 5/18 and were approved Wednesday 5/20. We had 2 full days to prepare for Memorial Day weekend and accept reservations. Thankfully, we had been working diligently to prepare for whatever and anything! (That is a hard plan to make!)

Well, there was and is nothing else for it; but, to get to it! We are back working and in full force! I am blessed to have friends in the hotel industry that gave me advice and providers to help do what is right. Thanks to them, I was finally able to buy hand sanitizer and dispensers in time for Memorial Day. I am thrilled to say that the holiday came and went smoothly. I thank the people that work with me for their dedication to “Get ‘Er Done!” We all had our heads down and did what needed to be done. Thanks to to Gary Renfrow and Chuck Martin from The Alden Resort for sharing their expertise and resources. A shout out, as well, is due to John Marks, formerly the GM of the Don CeSar and now President of Pinnacle Hotels. I may be in the Twilight Zone…. But, as always: You Get By With A Little Help From My Friends!

#BeSafe #BeKind #BeSmart #HumansOverHouses

One thought on “Day 69: My New “COVID-19 Battle Plan” The Vacation Rental Debacle”

  1. Bless your heart . That is the definition of perseverance. Growing up in Miami I still have lots of relatives and friends there. Non of whom appreciate the FL governor. One wonders how these people get elected. Stay well.

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