5 Cool Things (You May Not Know) About Florida

Travel advisors Joanne Sammut of Cruise Holidays and Sabrina Mantel of Centre Holidays enjoying the mojit
Travel advisors Joanne Sammut of Cruise Holidays and Sabrina Mantel of Centre Holidays enjoying the mojito

For generations, Florida has been the go-to destination for many Canadians. Young families, sun-seeking retirees, and theme park junkies have all been drawn to The Sunshine State.

And after two years of many Canadians staying home, Florida has rolled its welcome mat out, bigger than ever.

“Some 1.6 million Canadians visited the state – even during 2020,” said Lee-Ann Goltz, Account Manager, Canada for VISIT FLORIDA. “But we know there is so much more for Canadian travellers to explore, which is why we are all here in Canada this week.”

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“We are thrilled that VISIT FLORIDA and our Florida Partners are able to join us this week in Montreal and Toronto to learn more about Florida and the diverse array of unforgettable experiences that keep Canadians coming to visit year after year,” Goltz added.

“Canada is a very important market for Florida – in fact, historically, it has been one of our top international markets, with more than 1.6 million Canadians visiting the state in 2020. But we know there is much more for Canadian travelers to explore in the Sunshine State, which is why we are all here in Canada this week…These events will shine a light on some of Florida’s many amazing hidden gems that will appeal to Canadians looking for new experiences in a destination they already know so well.”

Which was the message at the Taste of Florida event for agents, held at the cool new Hotel X in Toronto last week. Attracting some 80 agents (60 had confirmed for a similar event in YUL), the occasion saw some 13 hosts from across the state mingling, sipping and dining with agents and bringing them up to date on development and innovations. Partners included Kissimmee, Panama City, Tampa Bay, St. Pete Clearwater and Central Florida.

Here are a few things I didn’t know – did you?

At the Kennedy Space Center, clients can dine with a real astronaut. Just east of Orlando, the Space Center (admission fee US$57 pp, less for kids) has some 150 astronauts on site at any time. For an additional US$50 per person (including kids), space-lovers can learn firsthand about the what it’s like to be “up there.”

Florida is for the most cultured of culture-vultures too. The Palm Beaches – the destination of choice for the well-heeled since the late 1800s – is called America’s Cultural Capital, thanks to its 75 museums and historical sites.

Golfers are drawn to the area’s 160 private and public courses. And there’s seasonal service direct from YYZ and YUL direct to the local airport, PBI.

Yinglu Tam and Denise Graham of Experience Kissimmee
Yinglu Tam and Denise Graham of Experience Kissimmee

Kissimmee is perfect for the family or multi-gen client with over 50,000 vacation homes from 1 bedroom to 15. According to Denise Graham of Experience Kissimmee, now is absolutely not too early to book for this coming winter. “The demand for vacation homes has grown exponentially since the pandemic,” she told me, “and availability is already tight.”

Walt Disney World Resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary with 18 months of celebrations, and May 27 will see the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. And a hot tip from Disney’s Jennifer Rivard? “Please remember that all clients 3 years and older require a park reservation as well as their valid admission ticket!”

Miami’s Debra Lee
Miami’s Debra Lee

Lastly, they say New York never sleeps but it sounds like Miami burns the midnight oil too: some 17 hotels have opened in Miami in the last 2 years (yes, during COVID).

Other tidbits: the Skyview observation wheel – similar to the London Eye – is a great place to grab the best views. Superblue, the digital immersive art installation is perfect for gobsmacking, moving images. The Museum of Graffiti is unique in the world. And it’s always a great idea to expand a client’s cruise vacation by adding a night or two in MIA.

 

Martha Chapman

Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions series as well as special seasonal series. She can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

Travellers waiting at the Canada - U.S. Border. Photo courtesy of the Houlton Pioneer Times.
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