Worldwide Survey Ranks Maui High in Hotel Stays & Prices

Maui ranks high in hotel stays, prices

Worldwide survey examines rates, revenues of island destinations

October 28, 2010 – By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer – Maui News
A survey of world island tourist destinations puts Hawaii, and particularly Maui, at or near the top in hotel occupancy, prices and revenue per available room.

The study, released today by Hospitality Advisors, found the Maldives are easily the most expensive of the top island destinations, but through the first nine months of this year, Oahu had the highest occupancy, 78.3 percent.

Maui, which was included in Hawaii but also reported separately, was fourth in average daily rate, despite considerable discounting over the past year and a half. The average Maui room was priced at $225 a night, down 6.3 percent from a year before.

That sandwiched Maui between the Bahamas ($273) and Aruba ($204).

But because Maui enjoyed better occupancy rates than either, hoteliers here realized more money, a revenue per available room amount of $155, up 7.7 percent.

Aruba was eighth in occupancy, 62.3 percent, and the Bahamas wasn’t in the top 10. Thus, when it came to revenue, the Bahamas was fourth with $152, and Aruba was fifth with $127.

The Maldives is somewhere off in a class by itself, a low-lying, remote collection of dry sandbanks with only a few, but very expensive, resorts. Joseph Toy, president of Hospitality Advisors, noted that it is a prime destination for Asian tourists.

It is also the only place that occasionally knocks Maui out of the top spot in polls of English-language travel magazine readers. (These polls are self-reported, not scientifically sampled, but Maui’s firm hold at the top shows that travelers’ enthusiasm for the Valley Isle is firm.)

A room in the Maldives averages $539 a night, around $100 more than a room at Wailea, which is far and away the most expensive destination in Hawaii. Maldives occupancy was 62.6 percent, and its daily revenue for rooms was more than double Maui’s at $331, although down by 16.9 percent.

After Oahu in occupancy were Guam (76.6 percent); Bali (74.9); Puerto Rico (70); Maui (68.9); Jamaica (66.3); Maldives (62.6); Aruba (62.3); Phuket (61.7); and Kauai (61).

Most of those destinations had higher rack rates than Oahu, which averaged $147. In some cases, like Maldives and French Polynesia ($292), much higher.

However, because of its overall better occupancy rates, Hawaii counties were all in the top 10 in revenue per available room.

Oahu was seventh ($115); Kauai eighth ($112); and the Big Island, despite making a poor showing in occupancy compared with the rest of Hawaii, was still 10th ($102).

The survey, conducted by Smith Travel Research for Hospitality Advisors, also ranked islands vs. comparable international destinations.

Here Singapore swept the board, first in occupancy (82.5 percent); average daily rate ($192); and room revenue ($159), barely higher than Maui taken separately.

Hawaii was fourth in occupancy after South Korea and Australia, followed by New Zealand, the Caribbean, China, Mexico and Thailand. All of the top 10 international destinations gained in occupancy rates this year. Singapore gained the most, 11.9 percent. Hawaii was up 6 percent.

Hawaii, second in rack rate at $173 was one of four top 10 destinations where rates fell, here by 3 percent. The other cost cutters were Mexico, Thailand and New Zealand. Singapore raised rates by 10.9 percent, which did not hurt its allure. The same was true of China, which raised rates by 10.8 percent to $112 but gained 9.4 percent in occupancy to 60.3 percent.

It is a sign of the overall weakness of world tourism that two top 10 countries by occupancy, Mexico and Thailand, had rates of 55.2 percent and 52.7 percent, which would be poor even compared with the Big Island.

Singapore rocketed ahead in revenue per available room, up 29.6 percent. Hawaii was second in that category with $123, a gain of 6 percent.

China had the biggest percentage gain in revenue, up 31.1 percent, but from a low starting point. Its room revenue was only $67, which was still a bit higher than New Zealand.

“Despite the unprecedented market decline that Hawaii endured over the past two years, Hawaii has been able to maintain its strong positioning when compared to other island and sun destinations,” Toy said.

He noted that surveys show that Maui has a separate brand identity from Hawaii.

The survey covered 38,000 properties with nearly 5 million rooms. Hawaii accounted for only 0.015 percent of rooms surveyed. The state had under 75,000 rooms in 2008, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, and even fewer now.

* Harry Eagar can be reached at heagar@mauinews.com.