Spring break 2009 will most likely be another week of insane partying if the pattern holds true. The question is where.
A spring break destination can be popular one year and dry the next. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where everyone is going. You don’t want to spend your hard earned money on a spring break trip that will consist of mostly families. So how do we predict the future?
First, we take some advice from the stock market and look at the trend. Panama City and Daytona was the destination of choice fifteen years ago. It was a cheap spring break package. You could jump in your car and drive down. All you had to worry about was finding a hotel room that wasn’t sold out for your week in March. My how things have changed. 1997 saw a shift from Florida spring break destinations to Cancun, Mexico. The hotels in Panama City and Daytona were increasing their prices dramatically in March. It was almost more cost effective to book a trip to Cancun. Also, Panama City Beach and Daytona Beach had become a very dirty and dangerous place. Violent crimes during spring break had escalated to the point where most hotels no longer allowed anyone under 21 to check into the hotels during the month of March. Parents didn’t want their children to fall victim to the dangers of those destinations and their children felt the same way.
March of 1997 saw a full shift to Cancun, Mexico. It was ten times prettier than Florida destinations and the hotel owners let the college spring break students pretty much get away with murder unlike hotels in the states. Mtv helped fuel the fire by shooting on location. They were responsible for bringing thousands of college students to Cancun each year. A bidding war occurred (much like the Olympics) between the hotels. They all wanted Mtv to set up their music events on their beach and advertise their hotel during spring break. Unfortunately, it all came to an end in 2006. The record number of robberies and vandalism that existed in Panama City and Daytona turned into kidnappings and rape for spring break in Mexico. Hotels were being sued right and left. The police had to more than double their staff during spring break to handle all of the late night calls. It became worse than spring break in Florida and Mtv decided to stop setting up shop in Cancun soon after. Just when everyone thought it couldn’t get any worse, the eye of a massive hurricane moved directly over Cancun and hotel owners were left with five feet of standing water in the hotel lobby areas. Major water and wind damage was present at every hotel. This was the first time a hurricane had hit them in many years. Most hurricanes take a caribbean path, this one did not. Almost two years have gone by and Cancun is still cleaning up from the devastation left from that hurricane.
March 2007 saw a near 100% shift to the Bahamas. Hotels in Florida and Mexico saw plenty of empty rooms during March, but hotels in the Bahamas were sold out before November 1, 2006. The same situation occurred in March 2008. Every hotel on the island was sold out prior to November 1, 2007. The Bahamas became the first choice for many college spring breakers because of two things. First, the price was right. They could cruise to the Bahamas, spend a week partying it up in paradise, and cruise back for around $350 per person total. They had been paying near or over $1000 for a 5 to 7 day spring break package to Cancun. Most spring break students ask the question “why didn’t we do this last year?” They found a safe, cheap, gorgeous destination. The parents liked it because it was a few miles off the coast of Florida.
Based on historical data, the Bahamas will be the destination of choice for spring break 2009. If last year holds true again, most of the popular hotels will be sold out before November 1, 2008. Research early, book early, and make this spring break the best ever.
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