Last updated: 04:42 PM ET, Thu October 06 2016

Southwest Florida Hotels Filling Up Ahead of Hurricane Matthew

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | October 06, 2016

Southwest Florida Hotels Filling Up Ahead of Hurricane Matthew

PHOTO: Hurricane Matthew approaches the U.S. (Image via Twitter/The Weather Channel) 

Hotels across Southwest Florida are filling up fast as vacationers and evacuees seek shelter from Hurricane Matthew.

According to NBC2, a majority of hotels in Florida's Charlotte, Collier, Hendry and Lee counties are all booked up through Saturday, with many last-minute reservations being made by locals fleeing the east coast ahead of Matthew's arrival.

The National Hurricane Center projects Matthew to be a major hurricane at a minimum of Category 3 when it brushes up along Florida's east coast Thursday into Friday. In addition to life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds are expected to wreak havoc on the Southeast coast through the weekend.

Although some travelers with plans to visit Florida this week have canceled their hotel and resort reservations because of the approaching storm, those rooms are quickly being filled by evacuees.

"We have been nonstop," Best Western Naples Inn & Suites' Yuri Ambrosio told the Naples Daily News. "Our phones didn't stop ringing."

Much like Tuesday and Wednesday, area hotels' phones are likely to be ringing off the hook again Thursday as travelers seek a last-minute shelter from the storm.

Compounding the uptick in evacuee arrivals is the Perfect Game youth baseball tournament scheduled to begin in Fort Myers, Florida Thursday. The championships have brought hundreds of teams to the area.

Quickly running out of room, many hotels have been forced to point potential guests elsewhere. Fortunately, the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau posted a link to local hotels that still have some availability. 

With both voluntary and mandatory evacuations underway all along the Southeast coast, hotels have become one of the only options for evacuees. Meanwhile, with Matthew's impending arrival impacting flights and snarling evacuation routes across the region, many vacationers will be forced to extend their holiday until it's safe to head home.

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