Maui hotels have maintained their July occupancy rates for three years, through thin and thinner, but only by slashing room rates.
Hospitality Advisors reported today that Maui's average occupancy rate in July was 64 percent, the same as the first half of this year. That continues a run of record low numbers.
Average daily room rates were also about the same as earlier in the year, at $238.
In other words, same old, same old.
Statewide, hotel occupancies in July fell to 70.3 percent, from 74.1 percent in that month in 2008. For the year to date through July, statewide occupancy was down from 73.8 percent to 66.7 percent.
"This summer has been a tremendous challenge for Hawaii's hotel industry," said Joseph Toy, president of Hospitality Advisers, which publishes the monthly Hawaii Hotel Flash Report.
It is usually not possible to learn how much money a particular hotel is making or losing because most have their operations folded into the consolidated reports of chains, if they have to report at all. However, a clue to how things are going emerged from the foreclosure against the Maui Prince. It has been losing more than a million dollars a month.
The state "did see some seasonal summer lift," said Toy, but Maui missed out on that.
With room rates down in July from an average of $293 in each of the two previous Julys, the rate for Maui fell to $238. While that was, as usual, highest in the state, it was low for the Valley Isle. For this past July, average daily rates for Kauai came in at $189, Oahu at $149 and the Big Island at $178.
Only Kauai saw a big drop in occupancy from July 2008. It fell from 75.3 percent to 66.6 percent. Oahu was down from 81.8 percent to 78.1 percent, and the Big Island was down a bit from 58.6 percent to 57.2 percent.
Maui operators were by far the most aggressive in cutting posted rates, which were down 18 percent. Other counties cut rack rates 13 percent to 15 percent.
However, comparisons are difficult to make, since everybody is throwing in free breakfasts, spa credits, fifth nights free and so on.
Some insight is offered by the percentages of decline in revenue per available room. Kauai fell the most, 24 percent; followed by Maui, 23 percent; Oahu, 20 percent; and Hawaii, 13 percent.
Visitor arrivals were up slightly, but Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism breakdowns showed that they didn't go to hotels. Instead, they stayed with friends and relations (up 17.3 percent), on cruise ships (up 12.6 percent) or in time shares (up 12.4 percent).
* Harry Eagar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.