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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 1, 2002

February occupancy surges after dismal January figures

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i hotel occupancy took a double hit in January, but February looks like it will be the strongest month for the industry since August, according to a survey released yesterday.

Hotel rooms around the state were just 64.4 percent filled during the first month of the year, as fewer visitors arrived, and the tourist-attracting Pro Bowl was held in February instead of its usual January.

The occupancy rate was 11.9 percentage points lower than January 2001's 76.3 percent. But average daily room rates fell 3.4 percent, to $145 a night, because of continued room discounting; that resulted in a 19.8 percent drop in industry room revenues to $198 million for the month.

The news, while bad, was not unexpected in an industry that knows one of the strongest months for travel to Hawai'i was going to lag even good occupancy levels of the slowest months of the year.

"January is kind of a swing month, it is usually one of our better months, but obviously not this year," said Joseph Toy, president of Hospitality Advisors LLC, which produced the survey with Smith Travel Research.

February occupancy, based on preliminary data last week, was dramatically higher at 79 percent. Room rates averaged $154 a night during the same week. Still, Toy said occupancy in February, the industry's best month, will be lower than last February.

For January, Maui posted the best occupancy and room rates at 66.2 percent and $190, respectively. O'ahu hotels were 64.7 percent filled at an average room price of $113. Big Island occupancy and room rates were 64.2 percent and $182, respectively. Kaua'i hotels were 58 percent filled at $149 on average.

By market segment, "economy" hotels (one step from the "budget" bottom category) did the best, at 68.4 percent occupied. The highest-priced "luxury" hotels did the worst at 62.7 percent.

The survey covered 151 properties with 48,927 rooms, which represents 71.5 percent of all hotel and hotel/condominiums with 20 or more rooms.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.