Hotel room rates continue to climb with no top in sight, pros say
By Marilyn Bowden
Room rates in Miami-Dade hotels have risen more than 11% this year, and hospitality experts say they're likely to continue moving up for awhile.
Rates in the county jumped to $129 in September from $115 at the end of 2004, said William D. Talbert III, president & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The increase pushed area rates to the fourth-highest in the nation, he said, after New York, Oahu, HI, and Washington, DC. Last year, Miami held the No. 6 spot.
The county's occupancy rate jumped to No. 6 in the country from No. 10, he said. "Our rankings for the first nine months of the year show the strength of the brand," he said.
Executives at area hotels say they expect the trend to continue, particularly during the next six months.
"We're now seeing an extension of our high season," said Alexandra Wensley, spokeswoman for Mandarin Oriental Miami. "Seasonality is not much of an issue anymore for us. A lot of that can be attributed to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and their efforts to create many peak periods for us through events such as the NASDAQ tennis championships and Art Basel.
"The pace of our revenue per available room is excellent. We expect to be sold out over the holidays."
"The greatest factor for us has been tremendous advance group booking," said Jennifer Alexy, area director of sales and marketing for the county's three Ritz Carlton hotels. "That limits the inventory for leisure guests, so with the normal relationship between supply and demand, we anticipate an increase in our rates at all of our properties."
At InterContinental Miami, availability is also tight, said Jeff Guillory, director of sales and marketing. "We are very full from January to April," he said, "so our remaining rooms are in higher-rated room categories.
"With the sale and demolition of Sheraton Biscayne Bay pulling rooms off the market and Miami such a hot destination, this is likely to continue."
The occupancy rate countywide has been 73.4% this year, Mr. Talbert said, up from 68.2% at this time last year.