Also known as the Millionaire’s Playground, Worth Avenue is located in Palm Beach and is home to some of the area’s most luxurious high-end shops, services, and restaurants. Wealthy individuals flock to the area which is a picturesque showcase for people to see and be seen. The Worth Avenue Association predicts a “better 2009-10 season,” in part because “groups are starting to come back.”
The Worth Avenue Association is made up of representatives from several of the area’s hotels and while they acknowledge that 2009-10 probably won’t be as good as 2007-08, it certainly will be an apparent improvement over the year we have just experienced. “The shock of the economy is over and the dust has begun to settle,” said Steve Wagmeister of The Chesterfield Hotel.
Denise Bober of The Breakers Hotel adds, “We’re down, but still pretty strong. We’re looking for a 10 percent increase over last year.” Many of the hotel representatives are indicating that their safest bet will be on groups returning to the area as over the past few months many hotels have had to focus on primarily the leisure travel market as company’s held more tightly to their wallets. Business groups returning with the new year will certainly improve things at Worth Avenue hotels as it is a large source of revenue for them.
Ruth Young from The Colony Hotel notes that “Customer’s are looking for value,” however, she anticipates that the high season may start a bit late this year. While groups are returning to the island, hotels are noticing that some groups remain price-conscious to some extent.
Without the absolute certainty that business and group travel will adequately pick up soon enough, Suzanne Epps of the newly opened Omphoy Ocean Resort is noting that leisure travelers should remain a large target market for their property. “We are also looking at the international market and Canada” pointing out that as a new hotel, The Omphoy has no figures from previous years to use as a comparison.
So what would help to attract people back to the area so famously known for its high-end clientele and luxury lifestyle? One store owner brought that question to Worth Avenue hotel representatives, trying to find out what would ensure hotel guests return in large numbers to the shopping street after a long day in meetings, or relaxing by the hotel pool. The answers included things such as having the stores open later in the evening so guests can shop after work without having to rush, and stepping up the service experience so that every visitor would become “an advocate for Palm Beach as a preferred destination.”
Extended evening shopping hours on Worth Avenue are actually going to be tested during the upcoming holiday season, so if you’re in the area, check the local shops to find out how late you can buy some of your favorite high-end products. For example, on December 1 the avenue will have its annual tree-lighting event and shops are being encouraged to stay open afterwards to inspire onlookers to pursue the avenue after the event. An impressive list of Worth Avenue retailers have agreed to participate in the test-run of added hours of operation including, Chanel, Gucci, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, and St. John.