Tourism & Cruises

Valentine’s + Presidents’ Day weekend = full restaurants, hotels

With South Florida’s upcoming art festivals, the Miami International Boat Show and those wicked snowstorms up north, and local hotels, restaurants — and roadways — are sure to be jammed this Presidents’ Day weekend.
With South Florida’s upcoming art festivals, the Miami International Boat Show and those wicked snowstorms up north, and local hotels, restaurants — and roadways — are sure to be jammed this Presidents’ Day weekend. Miami Herald File

Valentine’s Day is still a week away, but couples who haven’t booked reservations for Cupid’s annual snugglefest may find themselves out in the cold.

Blame the calendar. With Valentine’s falling during Presidents’ Day weekend, visitors have an extra incentive to come to South Florida. Add our annual art festivals, the Miami International Boat Show and those wicked snowstorms up north, and local hotels, restaurants — and roadways — are sure to be jammed.

“Presidents’ Day weekend is probably the busiest weekend on the calendar in Miami,” said Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It really is the conversion of a lot of great activity, a lot of great events.”

In Miami-Dade, hotel occupancy is expected to reach 94 percent, up slightly from last year, according to a survey by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“That’s just a testament to Miami and all that it has become, Aedo said, “and how the events continue to evolve to become even more exciting to attract new people.”

In the Fort Lauderdale area, about 30 percent of the hotels are sold out, and this number is likely to go up as the weekend nears, said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. Grossman said the weather is one of South Florida’s “great marketing assets” during February. The long weekend and Valentine’s Day just add to the appeal, she said.

“I think the weather up north has been very encouraging for people to take their Presidents’ Day holiday right here,” she said.

Many hotels are already completely sold out, especially beach area hotels, she said.

And many are offering special packages for the weekend, creating even more incentive for people looking for a romantic getaway to celebrate the Saturday Valentines occasion.

The B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale, for instance, is offering a 50 Shades of B package priced at $339 a night through March 1. By early this week, the hotel was already fully booked for Presidents Day weekend.

“The resort thought it was a good opportunity to combine a romance package for Valentine's Day and celebrate the release of the movie [Shades of Grey],” said Catherine Colford, a senior account executive at Hawkins International.

The package includes a bottle of wine and a grey silk tie. For couples looking to go the extra mile, the hotel is offering a helicopter ride — an homage to a date from the book, Shades of Gray.

At the Crowne Plaza South Beach - Z Ocean Hotel, the intimate affairs package starting at $1,120 includes two nights in king-bed suite accommodations, breakfast at The Front Porch Cafe, a bottle of champagne and a lovers’ “intimacy kit.” The hotel is filled on Feb. 14 but has vacancies for people arriving Feb. 13 and leaving Saturday, said spokeswoman Karen Zhu.

The Mondrian South Beach is also fully booked on Valentine’s Day, with some open spots the night before. The resort is offering a Romance Package starting at $419 a night that includes a spa discount, champagne and a complimentary breakfast at La Savina.

Restaurants are also quickly filling up. Nearly every big-name restaurant in South Beach, downtown and Midtown Miami on the website OpenTable is booked for the 8 p.m. dinner hour on Feb. 14; those that remain are mostly burger joints, pizza parlors and other casual eateries. At Red, The Steakhouse in South Beach, a few Valentine’s night reservations were still available as of Friday — but only at twilight and after 10 p.m.

"Saturday is clearly outpacing every other day for the time being. However, once the crowd from the boat show arrives, the surrounding days will fill up,” Aaron Rentfrew, assistant general manager of Red, said in an email. “For myself, Thursday or Sunday would be the best day to substitute for Valentine’s because you can beat the traffic and enjoy each others company without the hassle!"

Candlelit dinners aside, tourists and locals will find to keep them busy.

The annual Art Wynwood, sister fair to Art Miami, features contemporary and modern works, murals and pop art from 70 international galleries in a vast Midtown Miami tent. This year’s fair will include an exhibition of local artists in collaboration with Miami galleries.

For those looking to buy a boat — or just admire one — the Miami International Boat Show will showcase 3,000 boats at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina adjacent to the Marriott at the Venetian Causeway and Bayside’s Miamarina. To the north, vessels at the Yacht and Brokerage Show will line the mile-long Indian Creek Waterway.

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival takes over that neighborhood’s streets with artworks, food booths and this year, performing arts.

“This may just be one of those lucky calendar breaks here when everything coincides,” Grossman said. “I love it when that happens.”

If you go

Art Wynwood: 3101 NE First Ave., Miami. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 13-Feb. 15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 16. $25 for a one-day pass.

Coconut Grove Arts Festival: Adjacent to Biscayne Bay along McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive and Pan American Drive. Feb. 14-Feb. 16 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. . $15 general admission per person per day.

Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail Miami: Miami Beach Convention Center; Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center; Miamarina at Bayside. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Feb. 12, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Feb. 13-Feb. 15; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Feb. 16. $35 Thursday (Premier Day); $20 all other show days; $85 five-day adult pass; $35 two-day adult pass; free for kids 15 and under accompanied by adult.

Yacht & Brokerage Show: Indian Creek Waterway along Collins Avenue from 41st to 51st streets, Miami Beach. Feb. 12-Feb. 15 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Feb. 16.


Missed a table at your favorite cozy restaurant? Here are a few unconventional ways to celebrate the day of love.

▪ WILD AT HEART: For the couple that loves to stay fit, the RunWild 5k is the perfect way to start your Valentine’s Day. The course winds through ZooMiami, past the giraffes, elephants and tigers and culminates with family-friendly activities, food, drinks and music. Bonus: The event will benefit Chapman Partnership on its mission to help the homeless.

Details: 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 at ZooMiami, 12400 SW 152 St., Miami;; $15-$30.

▪ LOVERS OF ANTIQUITY: Wander historic Vizcaya marveling at the Mediterranean Revival architecture, the original furnishings, remodeled gardens and take in the panoramic views of Biscayne Bay before you stop for a nibble on some of the delights at the Cafe like the Prosciutto & Fig salad or the Tropical Shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich.

Details: open 9:30 a.m. -4: 30 p.m. at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami;; $10-$18.

▪ ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE: For couples who are passionate about art, there are two art fairs taking place on Valentine’s Day; Art Wynwood and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Art Wynwood will offer up a taste of contemporary and modern trends from around the world while Coconut Grove Arts Festival will provide a family-friendly outdoor event with unique works and crafts plus live music and food.

Details: Art Wynwood is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday Feb. 14 at Art Miami Pavilion, 3101 NE First Ave., Miami ;; tickets are $15-$55. Coconut Grove Arts Festival is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 along the streets of McFarlane Road, South Bayshore Drive and Pan American Drive in Coconut Grove;; tickets are $15, $5 for Coconut Grove residents.

▪ GARDEN OF LOVE: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has its annual Valentine’s Day concert, this year with jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval headlining the romantic affair. But those who want to wander the gardens early in the day can take in the acres of tropical foliage, hunt down the Chihuly glass sculptures throughout and stop under a big banyan tree to spread out a picnic blanket.

Details: open 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Valentine’s Day concert is at 5:30 p.m. 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; Regular admission $12-$25, Concert admission $25-$75.

▪ SALSA LOVERS: Celebrate your love at this concert with salsa star Willy Chirino and his beloved wife of more than 30 years, Lissette. Both will sing from their vast repertoire of Spanish-language hits like Chirino’s anthems “Soy Guajiro” and “Lo Que Está Pa’ Ti” while his wife will belt out power ballads like her infamous Spanish-language cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach;; $58.50-$128.50.

Amy Reyes,

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