NAPLES — Would-be cupids better hurry if they want to romance that special someone.
Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, and hotel rooms, restaurant tables, and flower arrangements are disappearing fast in Southwest Florida. Most restaurants and some hotels were already booked. Florists said sales seem to be up this year, but they won’t know how much until after Tuesday.
Florists may not run out of flowers, but it is always a possibility. Ted Stallone, owner of Naples Flowers Inc., 979 First Ave. N., recalls what happened last year.
"At 5:30 p.m. we had just locked the doors, and we heard some banging. There were five guys standing outside like puppy dogs with their noses pressed against the window," Stallone said. "We had sold out."
Tammy Mercer owns Floral Encores, 2354 Immokalee Rd., Naples, and said her sales have been good.
"I think people are getting a little more comfortable with the economy, especially in Naples," she said.
But Leslie Badder, owner of Flower Spot, 1807 U.S. 41 N., Naples, offered a different theory.
"(Sales) increased by probably about 16 percent because Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday, so we have both Monday and Tuesday this year," she said.
A lot of florists are closed or close early on the weekends – particularly on Sundays. Because Valentine's Day is on Tuesday this year, people have an extra weekday to shop.
Despite Valentine's ads popping up everywhere, shoppers still tend to wait until the last minute to buy their bouquets and boxes of candy.
Every year, a large chunk of Valentine's shoppers order their flowers the day-of.
"It would be like trying to get a reservation for Valentine's Day at a restaurant and calling at 5 p.m. Valentine's Day night," Stallone said. "You're going to end up at McDonalds."
It may be tricky to get into a restaurant at the last minute Tuesday. Some restaurants have been booked for weeks – even months – and have long waiting lists.
The Bayfront Bistro, 4761 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, was booked for Valentine's Day more than a week ago. Owner Joe Yerkes said there are about 150 people on their waiting list, and people have been calling to reserve tables since November.
"Since we knew we were going to be sold out Tuesday, we turned it into a long weekend," he said.
David Lamarca, managing partner at Roy's Restaurant, 475 Bayfront Place, Naples, said Roy's does still have room for last-minute reservations, but they won't last long.
"By the time the day rolls around, we're typically fully committed," Lamarca said.
Finding hotel vacancies may be a little easier, but it is still hit or miss. Some hotels are sold out, while others have more than 30 rooms available.
Warren Mattiello, former owner of the Ramada Inn in Naples, 1100 U.S. 41 N., says he's helping the new owners with the transition. The inn is already booked for Tuesday.
"It's not just because it's Valentine's Day," Mattiello said. "This is probably the busiest season we've had in four or five years."
Terry Langendorfer, front desk supervisor at the Bellasera Hotel, 221 Ninth Street S., said they are also sold out.
"In addition to Valentine's, it's also high season. A combination of the both has, fortunately, left us full," she said.