FORT MYERS, Fla. - Following foreclosure, Southwest Florida families are finding a new home-away-from-home in extended stay hotels.
"A lot of people have lost their homes, and this is just the perfect place to come," said Stacey Saltarelli, whose family is currently staying at a Value Place hotel in Fort Myers.
"We lived for five years in a really nice home and our landlord went into foreclosure," Saltarelli explained.
Forced out on short notice, a long-term hotel stay was their best option.
"It's great, everything is here, everything you need," Saltarelli said.
"There's no lease commitments, utilities are included, its already fully furnished," said Matthew Downs of Value Place.
Value Place is one of several chains offering weekly or monthly guest rates with all the necessities. Originally aimed at long-term tourists and corporate clients, foreclosure victims have emerged as a growing guest segment.
"We've definitely embraced it because it is a perfect fit," Downs said. "But in terms of the volume and magnitude, we couldn't have expected that at all."
Value Place says typically 20% of its guests are people in between homes. But with the high number of foreclosures in Southwest Florida, the number of guests affected by foreclosure is closer to 30 to 40%. That figure also includes several guests looking to buy foreclosures.
Guests come from a variety of backgrounds beyond just foreclosure; Al Watson found it an affordable choice while going through a divorce.
"This is a godsend in these times," Watson said.
Stacey Saltarelli has been so pleased, her family has stayed in Value Place hotels since July, while searching for the right fit for a permanent place to live.
"It feels like home. Yes it does," Saltarelli said. "Its home."