High-end Maui hotel rates, especially in Wailea, expected to remain high | News, Sports, Jobs

The luxury resort area of Wailea is shown in August 2021. High rates in Wailea, which has some of the lowest occupancy rates but highest room rates in the state, are likely to continue even as economic woes on the U.S. Mainland cause a potential decline in travelers, a University of Hawaii tourism professor said. he Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Even as inflation and economic woes hit the U.S., a University of Hawaii tourism professor expects that most of Maui’s hotel rates — some of the highest in the state, especially in Wailea — will remain elevated.

The average daily room rate for a Wailea hotel in August was $1,022.25, the third time this year the average room rate has been $1,000 or higher, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Hawaii Hotel Performance Report.

August’s average room rate in Wailea is up 11.8 percent from the rate of $913.99 in August 2021 and up 63.3 percent from $625.88 at pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Hotel rooms in Wailea have been the most expensive in the state, according to the tourism authority reports.

Wailea rates may not hover around $1,000 all the time, but Professor Jerry Agrusa, in UH’s School of Travel Industry Management, said these high rates will continue to be the trend, as there will still be people able to pay those rates and therefore allow hotels to sustain them.

“The rich people are still rich,” Agrusa said on Monday afternoon, noting that is the case even with inflation.

Agrusa, who specializes in hospitality and tourism management, said there are people who made lots of money during the pandemic, such as those who work in the grocery store industry and at companies such as Safeway and Kroger, along with Amazon.

“I think the high-end will still come,” he later added, but said that many tourists “as a whole” may not be flocking to the Valley Isle.

“I believe the high-end will sustain their prices, but the others will adjust and go down,” he explained of the Maui hotels.

“Maui’s still going to be a desired destination.”

Visitor arrivals to Maui in July increased 7.8 percent over July 2021 and were just one percent shy of the arrivals seen in pre-pandemic 2019. However, hotel occupancy rates in July and August have continued to be the lowest in the state.

Last month, Maui County hotels had a 67.9 percent occupancy rate as compared to Oahu with 81.6 percent, Kauai at 79.2 percent and Hawaii island at 73.4 percent.

Maui County’s occupancy rate in August was down 6 percentage points from 73.9 percent in August 2021 and down 10 percentage points from 77.9 percent in August 2019.

And, Wailea had one of the lowest occupancies in the state at 59.6 percent in August, which is down 10.6 percentage points from 70.3 percent in 2021 and down 31.3 percentage points from a 90.9 percent occupancy rate in 2019.

Statewide, occupancy was at 77.1 percent, which was up 3.8 percentage points from 73.3 percent in 2021, but down 7 percentage points from pre-pandemic 2019, when occupancy was at 84.1 percent, according to the report.

Rates, meanwhile, have continued to climb. Overall, the average daily rate in the state was $382.93, which is up 7.5 percent from $356.17 in 2021, and up 32.1 percent from $289.94 in 2019.

Revenue per available room in the state was $295.26 in August, up 13 percent from $261.23 in 2021 and up 21 percent from $243.93 in 2019.

Maui County maybe be lagging in occupancy but is bringing in a lot more money than other properties across the state.

In August, revenue per available room was $421.79 in Maui County, down 4.2 percent from $440.10 at the same time in 2021, but up 38 percent from $305.55 in 2019.

Wailea’s revenue per available room in August was $609.66, which is down 5.1 percent from $642.26 in 2021 but up 7.1 percent from $568.98 in 2019.

Among hotels in the Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua area, revenue per available room was $384 in August, which is up 2.4 percent from 2021 when revenue was $375.18, and up 54.5 percent from 2019 when revenue was $248.52.

West side hotels fared better in occupancy than in Wailea with an occupancy rate of 71 percent in August, 6.1 percentage points down from 77 percent in 2021 and down 5.3 percentage points from 76.3 percent in 2019.

Average rates for west side hotels in August were $541.15, up 11.1 percent from $486.99 in 2021 and up 66 percent from $325 in 2019.

According to a separate report by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, Maui County in August had the largest vacation rental supply of all four counties with 231,900 available unit nights, or a 0.4 percent increase from 2021 and a 24 percent decrease from 2019.

Unit demand was 161,700 unit nights, which was down 7.4 percent from 2021 and down 31.6 percent from 2019. This resulted in a 69.7 percent occupancy, or a decrease of 5.9 percentage points from 2021 and a decline of 7.7 percentage points from 2019.

The average daily rate in August was $348, which is up 23.3 percent from 2021 and up 49 percent from 2019.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at [email protected].

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