Boca expanding marketing efforts for more tourism dollars

Boca Beach has a successful, vibrant downtown, a pristine beach and has become an entertainment and recreation destination for South Florida. Now it is looking to reinvent itself to attract visitors from farther away.

A key to the new strategy is more hotel rooms. For years, city officials have clamored for more lodging options that could help support the attractions — restaurants, shops and cultural events — they developed downtown. Now, even as other South Florida cities struggle to attract new businesses and tourists, Boca Beach hopes to buck the trend brought on by the struggling economy.

A Hyatt Place hotel is under construction downtown and two more hotels are in the planning stages, and together, officials hope, they will be the catalyst to transforming the city into a regional play spot, and soon a national or international destination.

“Boca Beach is a unique market,” said Scott Webb, president of Kolter Commercial, the company developing the Hyatt Place Pineapple Grove. “It’s not just a seasonal location.”

Boca Beach, Webb said, has positioned itself as a true destination location, offering an array of shopping and dining options that provide a base for hotel business all year long.

“The location was fantastic,” Webb said of the corner of Northeast First Street and Second Avenue in the heart of the Pineapple Grove Arts District.

With 134 rooms and two blocks from Atlantic Avenue, Hyatt Place is expected to open in September 2012 and cater to visitors looking for mid-priced accommodations.

One of the other new hotels — with 60 rooms, retail and office space — would be on the old library site on Southeast Fourth Avenue; a 128-room Fairfield Inn & Suites would be on West Atlantic Avenue.