Hotel housekeepers commute for hours as high rents push them farther away
"Fontainebleau hotel housekeeper Odelie Paret climbs out of bed at 4:30 a.m., as she does each weekday, to start her hourlong commute from the faded warehouses of Opa-locka to the well-heeled, island city of Miami Beach. The sky outside her window is still inky black.
...Paret’s two-bus commute takes her across the 79th Street Causeway to a $15-an-hour, highly physical job, where for 21 years she has been a critical but little-noticed cog in the machine that runs Miami-Dade’s $25 billion tourism industry. Her wages, higher than most Beach hotels thanks to a union contract, support an unemployed daughter in her 30s, a grandson in middle school and family in Haiti.
The 13.5-mile journey between her modest two-bedroom apartment and Miami Beach exemplifies the ugly reality for most in today’s local tourism workforce. Every morning, thousands of hospitality workers like Paret commute for hours to get to the Beach, where a bitter cocktail of exorbitant rents and stagnant wages have pushed workers farther and farther away from the workplace."
Travelers keep falling for ‘free’ cruise schemes. Here’s how companies get away with it
"All too often, such “free” travel offers can be deceptive schemes perpetrated by Florida-based companies trying to piggyback on South Florida’s status as the Cruise Capital of the World. ...In many instances, such “free” travel deals turn into trouble for consumers: Last year, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received 1,028 complaints about travel or vacation plans, making it the No. 8 most common complaint. The department characterizes “free” cruise deals that require travelers to pay additional fees as travel scams.
...'It’s all about plausible deniability,' said Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocacy expert who has helped many travelers unravel these kinds of schemes across the travel industry. 'You have entity A, the cruise line; entity B, the travel agency; and entity C, the fulfillment company. If something goes wrong with the trip, there is some finger pointing, some shoulder shrugging, but nobody is going to get a refund.' "
In the Keys, Irma ‘knocked out’ the tourism industry. Now, the race to recovery is on
"Some residents call it the Irmanator: The roughly 97-mile stretch between Key Largo and Key West that traces the devastating path of Hurricane Irma, as she blasted through the Lower Keys and then seemed to grow bored with destruction further north.
Get past it and you’ll reach Key West, the tourism heartbeat of the Florida Keys, where damage is minimal, cruise ships are docking and tourists are trickling back in. But the drive down the Overseas Highway is no Key West. It’s a testament to Irma’s wrath, the breadth of her impact and the challenges that lie ahead for an island chain whose livelihood depends on cooperative weather.
...The Keys hasn’t seen anything like Irma in modern memory, said Jim Bernardin, owner of Pines & Palms Islamorada Resort.
'This one ...is a different storm because the economic engine of The Keys is tourism and it’s just like getting knocked out by Muhammad Ali,” Bernardin said. “But we woke up.'"
Jungle Island: http://www.bradenton.com/article156924319.html