Hurricane Irma's visit to South Florida left many people without power across the state. The City of Miami Beach offered some relief to its residents burdened by the temporary loss of electricity and running air conditioning by releasing a list of hotels with special rates and discounts in the wake of the storm.
Among the more than dozen hotels taking part in the “Residents Be Our Guest" hurricane-relief discount program is Hotel Gaythering, 1409 Lincoln Road. The LGBT and "straight-friendly" hotel offered some of the lowest rates in Miami Beach.
"Crate" shared rooms, similar to a hostel, were on sale for $29 a night through Thursday and $39 nightly from Friday through Sunday, down from $49 and $59 a night, respectively, a $20 savings. The 64-square-feet "crates" accommodate two guests (men only) with a full-size bed and a shared bathroom with two shower stalls, one toilet and one urinal.
Regular rooms with king-size beds, ranging from $85 to $99 a night Monday through Thursday and $145 to $160 a night Friday through Sunday, went for as low as $49 and $79 a night, respectively, a savings of $40 to $60.
The special rates ran through checkout time, 11 a.m., Monday and were for Miami Beach residents with photo identification. But non-Beach residents were welcomed to take advantage of the offers, too.
Angel Rodriguez, who lives near the Miami Design District with roommates and his elderly father, was so fed up with the loss of electricity and A/C since Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday, he decided to rent a hotel room for the weekend. With no guarantees when power would be restored at his home, he rented a "crate" for his father and himself after seeing a post on Facebook a friend in the LGBT community shared about Gaythering's specials.
"Their affordable rates sealed the deal," Rodriguez said. "My place STILL had no power as of Friday evening and my father and I just couldn't stand the heat and another night with no A/C. I had the first good night's sleep I've had in a week where I didn't wake up drenched in my own sweat. What a relief."
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine applauded hotels like Hotel Gaythering, Loews Miami Beach, Dream South Beach, the Nautilus, and the National Hotel for taking part in the city's special discount program.
“Families are suffering, and we are calling upon [our hotels], as our great partners, to help us serve our residents in this time of need," Levine said in a statement. "We know that many of [our residents] are still without power, making the recovery process that much more challenging. In order to offer direct and immediate support to Miami Beach residents, our local hotels have generously stepped forward to offer a special recovery rate of $99 or below for Miami Beach residents."
Hotel Gaythering is owned by Alex Guerra and Stephan Ginez. The co-owners bought the old three-story Miami Beach apartment building in 2010 and began renovations in 2012. The hotel was a hit with guests from the beginning, particularly with visitors and residents tired of the swanky and contemporary scene South Beach had become.
“We didn’t want anything that looked very Miami. We chose the location because it put people into a neighborhood so they feel like they are part of a neighborhood,” Guerra told the Boston Globe in April 2014. “It’s close enough but far enough from everything.”
Known for its mascot, a rabbit, the hotel's bar hosts “Hoppy hour” from 5-8 p.m. every evening. The venue offers "gayly" specials and weekly events, including Karaoke Mondays, hosted by local drag legend Tiffany Fantasia, and "Bears and Hares" Fridays.
Hotel Gaythering has also served as host to nonprofits like SMASH (Struggle for Miami's Affordable and Sustainable Housing), which is part of the "Smash the Slumlords" campaign that helps fight slumlords and gentrification in Little Havana and inner cities like Liberty City and Overtown. Former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora also recently hosted his kickoff campaign for his reelection bid at the Gaythering.
Joseph Armstrong has been offering donation based yoga at the Gaythering for several years now. He says he's still inspired every time he walks through the doors of the hotel.
"What a privilege to be associated with this amazing place in South Beach," Armstrong wrote on Facebook. "More than just a really nice hotel and bar, they work hard to give back to the community. The owners take a personal interest in being of service to locals and visitors alike. It's really unparalleled. I just can't say enough good things about Hotel Gaythering."
Added Laurence Bansil, also on Facebook: "We travel all over the world but this place is very special. It's defo sexy and cosmopolitan with guests from every country. Can't wait to come back."
After issuing a city-wide curfew in Miami Beach, which was finally lifted Friday, Mayor Levine says he is thankful the hotels that participated in the hurricane relief discount program stepped up the way they did.
"So many [hotels] stepped forward with generous hospitality, open arms, and meaningful collaboration," Levine wrote in a letter. "[We're thankful] the beach is back [for business]!"