Miami-Dade County

Hearts and flowers, boats and art — and plenty of traffic — in store this long weekend

Already one of the busiest weekends of the year in Miami-Dade, Presidents’ Day weekend starts with an extra kick this time around: Valentine’s Day.

The good news is that sweethearts who haven’t yet made plans can surprise their loved ones with a new megayacht or a Monet (or more budget-friendly tickets to Art Wynwood, the Miami International Boat Show, the new Miami Art + Design fair or the Coconut Grove Arts Festival).

“This is one of those magical weekends when everything lines up,” said Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The bad news: Hotel rooms and restaurant reservations will be hard to come by, and traffic jams at multiple spots throughout the county will likely provoke unloving feelings in many.

And even though the Miami forecast through Monday is mostly sunny-to-sunny, with a cool Friday giving way to warm weekend weather, some here are worrying about the skies elsewhere. By Thursday afternoon, South Florida airports reported more than 250 canceled flights to and from the Southeast and Northeast.

“While we’re hoping for cold weather in the Northeast, we certainly don’t want it to be no-fly weather,” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “That’s the one caveat.”

As long as visitors can get here, they’re expected to pack South Florida hotels and restaurants.

In Miami-Dade, a survey showed that hotel occupancy Thursday through Sunday is expected to reach 94 percent countywide, up slightly from last year — despite the destination having more rooms.

Aedo said the weekend is, “if not the busiest, easily one of the busiest” of the year. “I would be hard pressed to think of another weekend where occupancies are as high in addition to [high] room rates,” he said.

Some of the Miami-Dade events are even generating some business in Broward, Grossman said. Fort Lauderdale is also hosting the Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon on Sunday, and about 30 Broward hotels are sold out.

“I think having Valentine’s Day extending into Presidents’ Day has created a real nice opportunity for people to enjoy this destination,” Grossman said. “It’s not ever impossible to get a room here, but it’s a challenge for this coming weekend.”

The InterContinental Miami, next door to the brand new Miami Art + Design fair, is sold out through Saturday and expects to sell out Sunday night as well. General manager Robert Hill said 80 percent of the guests are leisure, far more than usual.

“The combination of Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday and it being Presidents’ Day weekend — a long weekend as well —certainly gives people the opportunity to go away for a long weekend stay,” he said. Adding the boat show to the mix, he said, “It’s just creating that perfect storm for the weekend.”

South Beach steakhouse Prime 112 has been booked solid for weeks already, and owner Myles Chefetz said the Friday Valentine’s Day was doing him no favors in terms of additional bookings.

“We’re packed for Fridays anyway,” he said. And the Friday of a holiday weekend is, he said, “a double whammy.”

Kevin Kelly, general manager at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, had a similar sentiment. The hotel is nearly full for Saturday night with some rooms left for Friday, Sunday and Monday.

“I wish Presidents’ Day and the boat show and Valentine’s Day were on different weekends,” he said. “As it comes, it’s a triple bonus for us.”

The 375-room hotel has been promoting a $100,000 diamond-draped Valentine’s package, which includes a single night in an oceanfront suite, diamond earrings and cuff links, 100 red roses and diamond facials.

No takers so far.

“But you never know,” Kelly said.

Big and small spenders alike can also find sailboats, yachts, water accessories and all types of art in multiple venues: Art Wynwood, which specializes in contemporary works; the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, with 380 artists selling crafts and artworks; the Progressive Miami International Boat Show; the Yacht & Brokerage Show and Miami Art + Design in Bayfront Park. All will be open Friday through Monday except the Coconut Grove festival, which starts Saturday.

Miami Art + Design, in its first year, is positioning itself as a classical fair in partnership with the Paris-based SNA. Organizer David Lester said the 45 or so galleries will offer “everything from masters to impressionists to contemporary art to ethnographic art.” Works by Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Claude Monet will be available, Lester said.

Plus, with hours starting at 2 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m. through Monday (closing at 8 p.m. Tuesday); a pop-up restaurant and bar; and steel drums and a piano, Lester said he thinks the fair will make for a fine evening out.

“People that are not in the market for million dollar paintings, you’ll have fun anyway,” he said.

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