Encouraging signs for hotels

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Average daily rate and occupancy statistics were up across the Caribbean in the first quarter 2012.

Occupancy was at 72 per cent, 3 per cent higher than the same period of 2011. Similarly, average daily rate has risen by 7 per cent to US$205.04. Revenue per available room has grown by 10.2 per cent, to US$148.69, and room demand has grown by 5.2 per cent.

Supply is up by a relatively low 0.8 per cent, said Amanda Hite, president of Smith Travel Research.

“Historically, the Caribbean builds into downturns, which means absorbing the supply into the market. But high demand and low supply drives rate rises,” she said.

Growth and rates

While occupancies increased in 2011, rates did not. Growth in the hotel industry will come from rate increases, she said, but absolute average daily rate would not fully recover for at least another three years.

This is contexted by an increase in costs for hotels and does not account for inflation.

“2011 was a year of recovery,” Ms Hite said. “But the industry is not as confident in terms of pricing, largely because the booking window has shortened. The demand is, however, there, so hotels can be more confident in driving revenues [and increasing rates.]

“The top segment, that is, luxury hotels, has driven rate, but demand growth has been driven by the lower end of the market,” she said. “The only significant increase in supply has been Panama, but that country may as a result suffer from saturation and therefore it would be difficult for it to increase room rate.”

Overall, the Caribbean has 8,400 rooms in the pipeline, mostly in the upper end of the market.

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