Island enjoys a good month

04/22/2013 11:12 PM

04/22/2013 11:12 PM

The RBC Heritage was buffeted by windy weather and didn’t sell out this year, but Hilton Head Island’s PGA Tour event managed to boost business, according to several restaurant and resort managers.

The weekend capped a three-week stretch of high occupancy at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa, according to the resort’s sales director, Teresa Manzolillo. Previous weeks brought in guests for Easter and college and high school spring breaks, she said.

“Our hotel was sold out for 10 days straight, and then we have a little break, then Heritage came up,” Manzolillo said.

The resort’s weekend occupancy spiked this year — rooms were 98 percent full on Friday and sold out Saturday. They sold at an average rate of $187 per room, according to Manzolillo. That’s better than Heritage weekend last year, although 2012 had better weekday occupancy, when Easter fell on the Sunday before the tournament.

Islandwide occupancy rates during Heritage week were not immediately available from the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, which keeps track of such data. Charlie Clark, chamber spokeswoman, said the data would not likely be available until the end of the month.

Attendance was about the same as last year, according to tournament ticket manager Chris Tobia, as more than 100,000 people came out to Harbour Town Golf Links to watch the action.

The crowds — and the business they bring — often are affected by where the Heritage falls on the calendar.

Next year’s Heritage will be April 14-20, meaning the tournament’s final round will be on Easter. Manzolillo says that probably means a sellout at the resort that week, but it also could mean lower occupancy in weeks before and after the tournament.

Villa rentals at Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island also were up this year, according to Bill Haley, vice president of marketing. He said all of the rental company’s 73 properties in Sea Pines were rented, and occupancy was higher than 70 percent islandwide.

“It’s been a big run for us these three weeks,” Haley said.

When it was too cool, damp or windy for spectators to stay on the course, many flocked indoors for shelter and sustenance. The weather was a boon for business at Truffles Cafe in Sea Pines Center, manager Paul Paulauskas said.

“When it rained, everybody came here,” he said, adding that he thought the overcast skies helped boost the daily lunch crowds.

“If it’s not sunny out, people tend to come indoors,” Paulauskas said.

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