Another convention center hotel looks likely

Hilton West Palm Beach
Hilton West Palm Beach

A top Related Cos. executive confirmed last week that the New York-based company is increasingly likely to build another hotel next to its new Hilton West Palm Beach at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Ken Himmel said Related has been happily surprised by the success of the Hilton, which celebrated its first anniversary last month. The Hilton is at 600 Okeechobee Blvd.

The hotel logged room rates of $270 per night in January, higher than an expected rate of $230. “We made six months worth of profits in January. It’s unbelievable,”  said Himmel, president of Related Urban, the mixed-use unit of Related Cos., which developed CityPlace and the Hilton hotel.

Hotel occupancy was 88 percent in January, Himmel added. The hotel “beat every one of our budgets, both occupancy and rates the first year,” Himmel said.

In addition, the convention center is enjoying an unprecedented surge in business thanks to finally having a hotel next door for conventiongoers.

“The convention center has tripled its bookings going forward,” Himmel said.

Those numbers are leading Himmel and other top Related executives to consider adding another 200 rooms on an adjacent parking lot.

It’s a big commitment, but Related is feeling upbeat about the city.

“We have every reason to believe that keeping our investment profile high (in West Palm Beach) is going to make a lot of sense,” Himmel said.

That hotel, which could be a boutique Hilton brand such as the Curio Collection, would share the Hilton’s amenities, including the pool and facilities.

A final decision is expected to be made by year’s end, with a new hotel possible built by the end of 2019, he said.

Himmel said the Hilton has experienced an unexpected boost to its business: Bookings by the media in town to cover President Donald Trump when he visits his part-time Palm Beach home, Mar-a-Lago.

But having Trump in town hasn’t just been good for Hilton and Related. Himmel said reporters are spending money around Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, too.

Silver Airways, JetBlue to fly from South Florida to Cuba

Silver Airways and JetBlue will offer flights to Cuba from the Ft.Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County.

A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)
A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)

JetBlue will begin its service on Aug. 31. The company plans to operate flights on three routes, with one-way fares beginning at $99.

JetBlue will fly between the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Santa ClaraAbel Santamaría Airport, Camagüey Ignacio Agramonte Airport, and Holguín Frank País Airport.

Silver Airlines will fly between Ft. Lauderdale and nine airports in Cuba, including Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cienfuegos, Cayo Largo Del Sur, Holguin, Manzanillo, Santa Clara, Santiago De Cuba, and Varadero. Serive is expected to start later this year