Occupancy little changed, but per-room revenue up

While occupancies at Maui hotels remained flat in the first quarter of the year and in March, money generated at island accommodations continued its upward climb, according to Hospitality Advisors figures released over the weekend.

Maui’s rate of filled rooms was 80.2 percent (up from 80.1 percent) for the first quarter, while in March the Valley Isle’s occupancy rate was 79.6 percent (up from 79.3 percent). While the quarterly and monthly figures were up only a fraction of a decimal point, Maui’s occupancy rates ranked second in the state, behind Oahu’s 86.2 percent for the first quarter and its 83.3 percent for March. Statewide, occupancy was 81.6 percent in the quarter and 79.1 percent in March.

But where Maui easily leads the state and all other islands is in having the highest average daily room rates and revenue per available room.

In the first quarter, Maui’s average daily room rate rose to $296.15, a 7.4 percent increase over the same period last year; the island’s revenue per available room figure grew to $237.51, a 7.5 percent jump. For March, the increase was more pronounced, with average room rates increasing 10.3 percent to $302.55 and room revenue up 10.7 percent to $240.83.

The state’s average daily room rate in the year’s first quarter was $233.33, and its revenue per available room figure was $190.40. In March, the state’s daily room rate was $235.79, and its revenue figure was $186.51.

The state’s least expensive rooms in the first quarter and in March could be found on Oahu, where average daily room rates were at $208. Room rates on Kauai and the Big Island hovered between the highs and lows set on Maui and Oahu.

According to an analysis from Hospitality Advisors, Maui hotels benefited in the first quarter from growth in “high-spending markets” like free-and-independent travelers (up 7.8 percent) and those who came to Maui to get married or enjoy a honeymoon (up 5.7 percent).

The report noted that the Wailea luxury resort area saw occupancy rates rise 2.8 percentage points to 85.1 percent in the first quarter and room rates reached $456.08 per day (up 9.9 percent). In March, Wailea hotels set a revenue per available room record of $410.17, an all-time high for any given month.

“With such momentum coming off a record 2012, it was clear Hawaii would have an outstanding first quarter in 2013,” said Joseph Toy, president and chief executive officer of Hospitality Advisors. “Oahu and Maui had an outstanding first quarter, with Kauai and the Big Island finally starting to make up ground that was lost during the severe downturn.”

Toy added a cautionary note that “while the start of 2013 has been spectacular, we will likely see some moderation in the market as the strong pent-up demand for Hawaii travel begins to tail off.”

He said that, despite record revenue figures, hotels’ profit margins are squeezed by higher operating expenses, including labor and energy costs.

Hospitality Advisors gets its data from a hotel survey compiled by Smith Travel Research. In March, the survey included 157 properties, representing 48,022 rooms, or 84.6 percent of all lodging properties with 20 rooms or more in the state.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.