Hotels pleased with occupancy

While some hotels are reporting high occupancy for this time of year (low season) condominium managers are giving mixed reviews.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is this week running at 100 per cent occupancy on its currently available 350 rooms.

This is mainly owing to a large business group that is visiting, explained Communications Director Melissa Perkins.

Incentive travel or corporate meeting groups make up a large amount of their bookings, but transient travel has also picked up, she said.

The resort ran at 71 per cent in June. This was mostly leisure business.

Ms Perkins explained that there was a strong, last minute pick-up on both the Summer Splash package with CITA/DoT and also the hotel’s own Reconnect Seven Wonders package, which entitles guests to a promotional $100 credit per night.

July was softer; and final numbers were not available by press time. July is not a popular group month, she noted. But this week’s 100 per cent gave a nice spike to the end of the month.

Ms Perkins mentioned also that since there have not been any hurricanes in the area the resort has benefited.

The hotel is also hopeful about August, given a short booking window trend and strong activity on the wholesale front.

‘The booking window has been incredibly tight,’ she said, explaining that bookings were coming two weeks out.

This is a trend that is reported by hotels in general and even from some condominiums.

‘People seem to be watching the weather and booking a couple of weeks out,’ said Daniel Beddor, front desk manager at the 343-room Westin Casuarina Resort.

Summer business has been going very well, he reports. Occupancy for July was at 56 per cent and for June it was higher, above 60 per cent.

This, he says, is a little higher than previous years. For example, this June was nearly 10 per cent up on June 2003, which was in the low 50s.

He believes some reasons for this include word getting out that the island is now rebuilt and back to what it should be.

‘More people are ready to take their summer vacations here,’ he said.

Summer business has been mostly from the leisure traveller at the Westin, he said. The Summer Splash promotion also helped bring the bookings in.

Looking into August he said, ‘I think we’ll remain pretty constant, although not as good as 60 per cent’.

At the Grand Cayman Marriott 305-room resort occupancy and rates are much better than they have ever been before, owing to the hotel’s $15 million refurbishment and its new ownership (it is now owned by Marriott International which bought it from a franchise), said Director of Sales Nadia Stradling.

The resort has done much better than would have been expected for the summer months, with occupancy for July at 58.6 per cent, and June at 64 per cent.

This has been from a real mixture of corporate business and leisure travellers coming here on the summer promotions.

Although August looks like it may be picking up, September does look slow; a traditional trend for that month.

At the 53 Hyatt Beach Suites, occupancy for June was in the 70s, while July was at 62 per cent. General Manager Diego Concha hopes that August will be better, in the 65 to 68 per cent range, if no bad weather impacts us. Occupancy this year at the resort is definitely up on last year, he said.

General Manager of The Courtyard Marriot Steven Schwartz said while he could not give out any figures, they are meeting projections, although the projections they had set were not high.

At Brac Reef Beach Resort their 40 units have been full since January, said the front desk’s Debra Wilson. While August still looked good, she wasn’t sure about September.

At Little Cayman Beach Resort their 40 units ran at about 60 per cent for June, 80 per cent for July and are at 70 per cent for August.

July was better than last year, but June was not, said Manger Jim Henry.

Casa Caribe General Manger Effie Mitchell reports that business is back to pre-Ivan levels.

‘It’s very good. Things don’t slow down here until 16 August.’

There are 17 units available in the rental pool and occupancy levels for June were at 51 per cent, and, for July, at 40 per cent.

While the first part of August has been busy, September and October are looking slow before high season begins.

This summer some have been booking as little as two weeks out, she said, while in winter the trend has been for booking six months to a year before the planned vacation.

Already Thanksgiving, Christmas, January, February March and April are pretty much sold out.

At Plantana Condominiums business has been slower, with occupancy rates for the 38 units in the rental pool at about 30 to 35 per cent over the months of June and July. Currently, occupancy has gone up to 37 per cent but things look slow for August, September and October in general, explained Assistant Manager Marcia Eichenberger.

Villas of the Galleon freshly re-opened its doors for business on 1 June, having just obtained its licence.

It has 30 units available in the rental pool with more to come on stream.

General Manager Lisa Ebanks reports that since its re-opening business has been going pretty well. June’s occupancy was in the low 20s having just announced the re-opening as it happened. July picked up to about 30 per cent and August stands at 30 per cent heading into slow September and October.

Bookings are coming in already for high season though.

General Manager of Regal Beach Club Marlene Bodden says June this year, at 40 per cent, was down 10 per cent on last year. She has 21 units in the rental pool.

She was in the process of finalising the figures for July, which had been slower, with August also quite slow.

Ms Bodden wondered if guests were being cautious about coming because of hurricane season.

Bookings are coming in for high season, however, with some units still available.