Can Hip + Sexy = Family Travel?

Does a resort positioning itself as sensual and hip compliment marketing efforts appealing to families? Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel certainly thinks so and top executive, Howard Karawan, points to outstanding sales results over the last two months as the proof that it can be done. In the marketing world, that is no small feat.

I ask the question since the Fontainebleau’s 2008 reopening campaign was hard to miss –provocative billboard images, ads and articles in all the top magazines.  I also attended reopening festivities last fall, centering on Heidi Klum and a $2 million Victoria’s Secret televised fashion show, complete with celebrity guests and glam galore.

May 2009: enter Kelly Ripa. ”Another day in paradise from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach!” she declared as she and Regis Philbin opened their live morning show from a stage built off the hotel’s pool deck.

The rationale? To capture a larger audience, coupled with summer promotions of special family rates. Karawan explained that the plan was to start with the sexy positioning and then tone it down for families for the off-season, with the launch on the Regis and Kelly Show. “What better place to vacation than where not only the kids can have fun, but also a husband and wife (in their 30’s to 50’s) can still feel hip and sexy,” he explained. It surely beats “waiting in line for space mountain.”

So I returned last weekend for a Miami staycation to check things out for myself. Having experienced both co-existing markets as a guest firsthand, I’ll tell you, it really does work. I look forward to seeing (and experiencing) the next rabbit they pull out of their marketing hat.

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