In Praise of Crane’s

Crane's Beach House had added to Delray's charm while giving back to the community.

Crane’s Beach House has added to Delray’s charm while giving back to the community.

A long, long time ago, I went to a meeting at a non-descript old apartment complex near the beach in Delray.

A gentleman named Michael Crane was seeking support from city commissioners to convert the property into a boutique hotel.

As he outlined his vision, it was clear that he saw a niche in the market for a small, charming seaside hotel about a block off Atlantic Avenue.

He envisioned an oasis, tucked away from Atlantic Avenue which was just starting to pop.

I told him I would support the vision.

After all, Delray needed hotel rooms and you couldn’t help but get swept away by Mr. Crane’s ideas and warm personality. He was a believer in Delray and so was I.

When plans were submitted, we began to receive calls and emails from nearby residents who were concerned about the usual issues: traffic, noise and parking.

So went back to Mr. Crane and his team and worked hard to mitigate the concerns. The city’s planning staff was creative and helpful and we approved the project.

I thought about that process as I attended a party Friday night celebrating the debut of “The Villas” a set of new luxury units that are a welcome addition to what has become a signature property in Delray.

The hotel is not expanding per se, but evolving to capture another segment of the market.

Like it or not, Delray is a hot place as we envisioned and worked hard to achieve.

The same week as The Villas made their debut, the Boston Herald devoted four pages to Delray, noting its restaurant scene, vibrancy, beautiful beach, culture, shopping and recreational opportunities.

Crane’s Beach House is a big contributor to the city’s success and Michael Crane saw the potential, had the belief, took the risk and made the investment.

He was also a gifted talent scout, hiring Cathy Balestriere as general manager and empowering Cathy to dive into Delray. Over the years, she has used her experience,  energy and resolve to create a solid business and to position Delray as a great destination.

When Cathy got the job, she contacted my secretary at the time Delores Rangel, to set up a meeting. We ended going to lunch at City Oyster and starting a conversation that has lasted for more than 10 years. Cathy has always been brimming with ideas and she has a passion for Delray that is simply unmatched.

She has not only made Crane’s a very special property creating jobs and drawing tourists from all over the world, but she has given back by hosting innumerable events for local non-profits over the years. In addition, she has served admirably on the CRA board, created Destination Delray, served on the board of the Downtown Marketing Cooperative and been an invaluable member of the Delray chamber. And when it came time to build The Villas, she used local talent, Delray companies and professionals to design and build the suites. And they are simply magnificent.

With the addition of The Villas, Crane’s will enter a new era of prosperity. I have heard–anecdotally–of people staying at Crane’s and then deciding to move here. It makes sense. Very few places have what we have.

I give a lot of credit to Michael Crane and Cathy for their vision and for our city staff who found a way to make a project like this work.

Saying yes requires risk, but also leads to so many good things. Crane’s is but one example–albeit a great one–of what can happen when a city facilitates a vision.


Delray Tops List of Most Expensive Florida Destinations

Delray's reputation as a destination is growing nationally and internationally

Delray’s reputation as a destination is growing nationally and internationally has come out with the 20 most expensive destinations in Florida, based on their lodging cost.
Guess who topped the list?
Palm Beach? Nope.
South Beach? Guess again.
Our very own Delray Beach, described by Travel magazine as the “small coastal town of Delray Beach, situated on the Atlantic Ocean between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach”, led the rankings.

 Specifically, for each destination the amount visitors will have to spend, on average, for the most affordable double room during the February and March 2014 timeframe was determined.

Collectively, these two months are considered the high season for most Florida beach destinations. The survey considered only hotels that are well located (i.e. close to the beach), that are rated at least 3 stars, and that have been well evaluated, on average, by former guests.

Delray Tops Sanibel

At an average price tag of $298 for the least expensive double room, Delray Beach revealed itself as the most expensive destination in Florida.
Only a couple of dollars cheaper in the number two spot is Sanibel Island, known for its shell beaches and wildlife refuges. Siesta Key follows as the third most expensive Floridian destination with an average nightly rate of $284 for the most affordable double room.
It must be pointed out that compared to South and Central Florida, Northern Florida’s high season tends to fall during the summer months. As such, destinations like St. Augustine and Pensacola Beach didn’t make it onto the list of most expensive destinations.
The following table shows the 20 most expensive destinations in Florida based on their average rate for the cheapest available double room (minimum: 3-star hotel) during February and March 2014. All rates were established via the comparison website Kayak from January 27 to January 31, 2014.
Source: TravelMag.Com

1. Delray Beach $298
2. Sanibel Island $296
3. Siesta Key $284
4. Key West $276
5. Longboat Key $269
6. Marathon $262
7. Palm Beach $246
8. Fort Myers Beach $245
9. Marco Island $237
10. Sunny Isles Beach $235

11. Downtown Miami $219
12. Islamorada $213
13. Pompano Beach $213
14. Anna Maria Island $193
15. Miami Beach $187
16. Key Largo $186
17. Deerfield Beach $182
18. St Pete Beach $182
19. Clearwater Beach $176
20. Treasure Island $175

So what does this all mean?
Well, we spoke to a couple of local hoteliers, who shared with us their take on the list.

First, these rates are being achieved, so if you believe in the free market, a lot of tourists are finding a lot of value in Delray Beach.

Second, the city must be doing something right to attract these rates during the height of the season.

Third, the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau might want to start pushing Delray a tad bit more, with apologies to our neighbors Boca Raton, Wellington and Palm Beach.

Fourth, attracting some moderate priced hotel options might not be a bad idea. (The Fairfield Inn, which is underway at I-95 and West Atlantic Avenue might be just what the doctor ordered).