Strength on Maui and atBy Russ Lynch
off-beach Waikiki sites brought
the overall rate close to
last year's level
Boosted by strong business on Maui and in the cheaper Waikiki hotels and vacation condominiums, statewide hotel occupancy last month almost equaled the results for March 1998.
The occupancy average was 77.3 percent, less than a quarter of a point lower than the 77.5 percent average reported in March 1998, according to the monthly report from the hotel industry consulting firm PKF-Hawaii.
"March is the second straight month of stabilized occupancy in comparison to the prior year and hopefully is the start of a bottoming-out period," said Ernie Watari, PKF-Hawaii chairman and chief executive officer.
Still, with slight declines in February and March, Hawaii's hotel industry has recorded 23 consecutive months of falling occupancy, according to PKF figures.
Maui had the the highest March occupancy of all the islands, 86.4 percent, up from 81.3 percent in March 1998. Kaanapali properties were full during much of the month, resulting in a 90 percent March average for that resort area, up from 88.2 percent a year earlier.
Properties off the beach in Waikiki without their own restaurants, where room rates are lower than anywhere else in the state, recorded occupancy of 80 percent last month, up more than five points from 74.9 percent in March 1998. A slip in business at the beachfront properties, to 72.7 percent from 75.5 percent a year earlier, brought the overall Waikiki average down nearly two points to 74.9 percent, from 76.7 percent.
The statewide average daily room rate of $145.15 last month was down 1.7 percent from an average of $147.71 in the previous March. The highest room rates in the state were along the Big Island's Kohala Coast, where visitors paid a nightly average of $239.23.
The PKF survey covered 40,419 rooms, or 57 percent of the state's vacation accommodations.