Summer always arrives early in South Florida.

June 21 might mark the beginning of fun in the sun for the rest of the country, but the party officially gets started here when the 2-for-1 Summer Savings program kicks off on Friday, May 1.

The free program, sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, offers more than $2,000 in savings at more than 70 participating South Florida businesses.

Visit Sunny.org/Summer to see the offers and print free cards, or sign up to get up to two by mail.

Then, flash the cards at participating businesses to get the deals. No coupons are necessary.

This is my absolute favorite deal of the year because it offers so many ways to save on land, sand and sea, not just for Broward County residents, but for super-savers all over South Florida as well as out-of-towners.

"There is very little the Summer Savings card won't cover," says Nicki Grossman, the bureau's president since 1995. "We are running these 2-for-1 deals along with our Vacation Like a VIP program to encourage locals to visit hotels and treat themselves like visitors."

The VIP program encourages staycations with discounts on accommodations at luxury hotels and resorts, but the Summer Savings program is the true star, offering more than 40 BOGOs throughout six months.

After you sign up for your card, a VIP deal pops up to book a two-night hotel stay through the reservation service at Sunny.org to get a free $25 American Express gift card, a beach towel, ball and flip-flops.

The 2-for-1 Summer Savings is a water-based program, says Grossman. "Try the water taxi, go snorkeling or fishing, take a Segway tour and get on the Sun Trolley."

In other words, act like a tourist.

"It's a very multigenerational, family-friendly way to have fun and save. Appreciate the amenities and all the value," says Grossman. "It's a wonderful deal."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Abridged article by dchristensen@tribpub.com
Original article viewable at Sunsentinel.com