Maui hotel occupancy plunged to 66 percent in January, according to the Hawaii Hotel Flash Report from Hospitality Advisors released today.
Not only that, island resort operators slashed prices during what should have been the best month of the year. The average price of a room on Maui was $266, $15 less than in January 2008.
Statewide, the rate cutting was even more determined. The average daily room rate was cut 8.2 percent to $196, the steepest monthly decline since 1993.
The statewide occupancy rate fell from 75.7 percent in January 2008 to 66 percent last January. The fall was softened, very slightly, by Oahu, where the drop was only from 76.8 percent to 69.6 percent.
Maui thus did slightly worse than the state average by falling from 77.1 percent to 66 percent; but it was somewhat better off than Kauai, down from 72.7 percent to 60.9 percent, and Hawaii island, down from 71.2 percent to 56.5 percent.
Canadian travelers flocked to economy and budget hotels in Waikiki; so the apparently better occupancy experience of Oahu did not translate into money. RevPAR (revenue per available room) tumbled 20 percent statewide and 17.4 percent on Oahu.
Bargain hunters paid only $92 for an economy room in Waikiki and just $77 for a budget room. Maui does not have any budget rooms in the survey, and Maui's economy rooms went for $142 in January.
That was a fall of $17 a night. Economy rates held up better in Waikiki, dropping just $4.
Despite the steep decline in visits, Waikiki's cheaper hotels still managed to drive occupancy rates above 80 percent. RevPAR fell there, nevertheless.
It fell dramatically at higher-end resorts as well. Maui luxury rooms, which had averaged $408 in the 2008 high season, were asking $379 this year. Combined with an occupancy down to 64.9 percent, RevPAR dropped 15 percent to $246. It was more than $300 in January 2008.
The most expensive rooms in the state are at Wailea (and Lanai, which is not in the survey). The rack rate at Wailea was cut by $38 to $400 a night, but occupancy fell by 6 percentage points to 70.4 percent all the same.
The hit was worse in West Maui. In January 2008, both West Maui and Wailea enjoyed about the same occupancy rate, around 75 percent, although West Maui rooms averaged about $150 a night less.
This January, west side occupancies crashed, to only 62.3 percent, not much better than on the Big Island.
For all of that, the January occupancy numbers were an improvement over December, when Maui dropped to 56.8 percent. That was the lowest since the December after the September 2001 attacks.
The decline in hotel occupancy was in line with the 12.4 percent drop in visitor arrivals and the 13.6 percent drop in visitor spending that the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reported earlier.
* Harry Eagar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.