Other tourist destinations in neighboring states banned alcohol for spring break, but South Mississippi is welcoming revelers — who by Thursday hadbooked just about every hotel room on the Coast for Friday and Saturday nights.
Online hotel-booking sites flash the message that hotels are 100 percent full this weekend in Biloxi, Pascagoula and every city across the Coast.
This is the closest to 100 percent occupancy for a weekend as she’s ever seen, said Linda Hornsby, executive director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, and that’s state line to state line.
“There’s a smattering of rooms at various locations,” she said — one of the casinos still had a couple of rooms Thursday morning, as did a hotel in Ocean Springs. A few rooms opened up when some credit cards holding the reservations were denied, she said, but were filled again within minutes.
MHLA’s hotel reservation line is 1-888-388-1006 for those still hoping to find a room.
Although Cruisin’ The Coast in October is an eight-day event and has a bigger economic impact, Hornsby said spring break is a great boost for hotels and the Coast economy.
The Roost boutique hotel, which just opened in Ocean Springs, is booked for the weekend.
Quality Inn on the Biloxi beach, walking distance from the Coast Coliseum, is in a prime location, especially as traffic is expected to be jammed Saturday on U.S. 90 in Biloxi.
“This is where you want to be,” said Monica Taylor, assistant general manager, who heard of rooms in Biloxi going for $450 a night. “It’s going to be packed, definitely,” she said.
Gulf Coast Spring Fest concert is set for Saturday night at the Coast Coliseum. MGM Park in East Biloxi will host Spring Break Explosion concert Friday.
The weekend doesn’t appeal only to high school and college kids. “It’s actually all ages,” Taylor said, from teens to age 50 and 60.
And it isn’t just the hotels that will be fully staffed this weekend. Spring break brings people to restaurants, shops, gas stations and other South Mississippi businesses.
“They’ll start rolling in probably this afternoon,” Christina Williamson, store manager at Souvenir City in Biloxi, said Thursday. The entire staff will be working the weekend and tourists can get custom air-brushed T-shirts for spring break at Sharkheads, the company’s sister store just down the street.
Biloxi Spring Break T-shirts are just inside the door at Surf Style in Biloxi, and on sale — buy 2, get 1 free. “We’ve had to refill quite a lot,” manager Black Brandon said.
Area schools are out this week and next for their own spring break, and hotel owners say they’ve been getting college students and families coming for spring break vacations for more than a month.
“It’s different every place,” Hornsby said. Although there is talk about making it the same week for all schools, she said having staggered break times works well for the Coast as a destination, spreading out business. An indoor volleyball tournament in March had a great local impact, she said, as have other sporting events scheduled during students’ spring vacations.
“The weather has been phenomenal,” she said, and is likely to stay that way this weekend. Highs of 72 degrees are forecast Friday and Saturday with no chance of rain but a high chance of crowds looking for fun at the beach.