Now that inauguration fever is over, hotel rooms in chilly Washington, DC, are emptying out while Tampa, Florida prepares to fill up with Super Bowl fans.
Like DC, finding a hotel room in Tampa is going to be tough for last-minute attendees. Every hotel we called in Tampa was completely booked for the weekend of January 30, including The Quorum, the Hyatt Regency Tampa, and Embassy Suites near Busch Gardens.
Even Hilton properties as far away as Long Boat Key, about 55 miles from Tampa, were sold out.
Availability is something of a “moving target,” reports spokeswoman Brooke Maynard of Visit Tampa Bay. Hotels may have one or two available rooms, or completely fill up and then find themselves with a few last-minute cancellations.
And, if history is any guide, there is a big difference between “booked” and “blocked” rooms. Many of the downtown Tampa hotels are reserved for NFL staff, teams, and media, but any no-shows could translate into last-minute availability.
But with only two weeks left before the Super Bowl, what are your other options? Think outside the box, or more to the point, outside of Tampa.
When we called Hilton, nearly every property within a 60-mile radius was booked—except for the Hilton Garden Inn in Sarasota, where rooms are starting at $209 a night. Sure, Sarasota is at least an hour’s drive from the Super Bowl stadium, but at least you can get a room.
You can even combine your trip into a family vacation by staying in Orlando, which is about 86 miles from Tampa. The last week in January is normally a low period for Disney World, which means available rooms and better deals.
Other great nearby options are St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida, both of which are just about 25 miles and a bridge away from Tampa (and as an added bonus, you’ll enter from the correct side of town to reach the Raymond James Stadium).
We checked in with the folks at St. Petersburg to find out some of the hot deals in their area, and at Hotels.com, where hotels participating in Big Game promotions still have availability. Please note that rates are subject to change, and some properties have a minimum-stay requirement over Super Bowl weekend.
La Quinta Inn St. Petersburg – from $136.50
Ramada Inn St. Petersburg – from $157.49
Comfort Inn North – from $179.29
Boca Ciega Resort – from $200 per night
Pelican Pointe Condos by Sirata – from $200
Sirata Beach Resort – from $201
Royal Orleans by Condos by Sirata – from $212.50
Alden Beach Resort & Suites – from $239.67
Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites – from $425
Sandpearl Resort – from $1,250 for one-bedroom condo/suites
And, if you’ve got some cash to spend on a real experience, how about a long weekend on The World?
The luxury apartment-style cruise ship will dock in Tampa for the big game, and is allowing guests on board starting at $1,900 a night. The World usually requires non-resident guests to stay a minimum of six nights, but over the Super Bowl, only a three-night stay from January 30-February 3 is required. http://www.aboardtheworld.com
By Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com.
Learn more about some great hidden gems in Tampa with these articles:
- America’s Best Alternate Airports
- Kid-Friendly Airports Around the World
- Good Food in Airport Hotels
- GrandTravel: Tripping With Grandma