When it comes to Hawaii hotel pricing, there is a big gap in terms of wanting visitors to return and making it financially attractive to do so. As exceptional nightly rates loom except on Oahu, there seems to be a mixed message on how eager the islands’ businesses are to see visitor numbers increase.
This week’s report from the ever-effervescent Hawaii Tourism Authority makes clear that hotel prices continue to climb in spite of all odds. We’ll look at the August 23 data, which included the drop in tourism caused by the Lahaina fire. Then, we looked at a comparison with 2019, which remains a good baseline, and with 2022, which, on the other hand, marked a travel paradigm of no amount is too high.
If you wish to dig into each island further and regionally, you can do so in the HTA report data attached below.
Maui hotel rates have jumped 44% since 2019.
Following six months of declining visitors on Maui and a 16% additional drop in August occupancy based largely on the fire and the mass evacuation that ensued, we might have expected to see a significant reduction in room costs. While there was an 8.6% drop in August compared with 2022, the rates still averaged $564 before taxes and fees. That is up 44% since pre-Covid.
Maui hotels, in particular, want visitors to return immediately to help keep the island’s economy from slipping into recession.
Kauai hotel rates are up 57% since 2019.
Visitors on Kauai forked over big money in August. With an average daily rate of $444 before taxes and fees, they paid 57% more than in 2019, even as rates increased only 9% from 2022.
Big Island hotel prices have climbed 58% since 2019.
Hawaii Island reported an average daily room rate of $436, which remains up only 3% since 2022 and 58% since 2019.
Honolulu hotel prices remain the most reasonable overall.
Honolulu hotels have gone up the least in price both since 2019 and since last year. In August, the average rate was $292 before taxes and fees. That is up just 2% since last year and a relatively modest 14% since 2019. We wish we could say that this means excellent value can be found in Honolulu hotels. Unfortunately, even with these more modest increases, we still find Honolulu hotels overpriced and generally lacking in value.
Even before August, there were serious visitor warning signs.
Our Beat of Hawaii editors’ friend Jerry Gibson, president of the Hawaii Hotel Alliance, confirmed July and August would be lackluster compared with traditional summer performance, seeing what he called a “fairly slow pickup” in this key vacation period. Gibson also said the lack of return visitors is concerning, calling them “The best guests for Hawaii.” We concur with his assessment. Jerry further suggested that Hawaii “concentrate on repeat guests.” It isn’t clear that HTA is heeding anyone’s suggestions, however. Occupancy rates in August were down 3% compared with 2022 and 10% compared with 2019.