Hotel revenue down on Big Island


While most hotels in Hawaii saw another record-setting month in July, revenue numbers on the Big Island were down, according to data provided this week by Hospitality Advisors LLC.

Room revenue across the state climbed to a single-month record of $336 million in July, surpassing the previous record set in January by 2.2 percent, or $7 million. Room rates also rose, with the average daily rate growing by 11.8 percent to $241.63 — again a new record for any single month.

Total occupancy may have been down slightly, but the increases in rates were able to make up for that, as evidenced by the state’s revenue per available room rate, which grew in July by 7.8 percent to $190.65.

But on Hawaii Island and Kauai, despite more visitor arrivals and longer average stays, occupancy numbers in July decreased to 60.1 percent and 72.3 percent, respectively. For the Big Island, that represented a 4 percent drop.

“The decrease in occupancy was in part due to U.S. West and U.S. East visitors choosing to stay in condominiums rather than hotels for summer family travel,” according to a Hospitality Advisors release.

Big Isle room rates, meanwhile, climbed 12.4 percent to a new, all-time high for the month of July, to an average of $214.53 a night. Tellingly, that lifted the island revenue per available room rate from $122.37 in July 2012 to $128.93 in July 2013.

John Alexander, owner and operator of Dolphin Bay Hotel in Hilo, said Monday afternoon that while occupancy numbers for July and August were the lowest he’d seen this year, they were still more than enough to keep him happy.

“We are still seeing just excellent business,” he said. “We finished the month of August at 89 percent (occupancy) and we finished July at about 91 percent occupancy. We are continuing to do very well, as I’m sure most of the Hilo properties are right now.”

Being a much smaller and more localized market than the resorts on the Kona side of the island, East Hawaii finds itself in a specialized, niche market, he said.

“This is our 45th year in business, and for years the Hawaii Visitors Bureau used to call every hotel and they’d call us for our monthly totals, but for years we’ve been such a niche market that we’ve always posted 20 or 30 percent higher than everyone else,” Alexander said. “They stopped calling me, I guess because I was throwing off their numbers.”

As for his predictions for the coming winter months, Alexander said he continues to see Hilo hoteliers benefiting as visitors plan holiday travel.

“Just make sure that volcano keeps going, because that’s what brings them out here,” he said. “If they’re in Kona for a week, they come over here for at least a night, and if that lava was not out there, they wouldn’t come over here.”

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.