Hawaii Vacation Rentals Struggle: April Occupancy Declines, Prices Approach Hotel Stratosphere

Hawaii Vacation Rentals Struggle: April Occupancy Declines, Prices Approach Hotel Stratosphere

The Hawaii Vacation Rental Performance Report for April reflects diverse challenges and various evolving trends in Hawaii travel. Despite an overall supply of vacation rentals, occupancy has dropped significantly compared to previous years, both pre-and post-pandemic. The culprit here is the increase in the Average Daily Rate (ADR).

If you often choose Hawaii vacation rentals, are you willing to pay more for the chance to stay at one, or are Hawaii hotels a better option for you? For longer stays, we are still choosing vacation rentals for now because of the extra space, kitchen, and free parking.

Data released by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) reveals new dynamics that caught our attention. The daily rate for Hawaii vacation rentals increased to $312, a move up from the prior year and a huge jump from pre-pandemic. Most telling, however, is that vacation rental occupancy decreased to 51%, a decline from last year and even more significantly since 2019.

Compare those statistics to the latest hotel report for April 2024, with the average daily rate of $368 and hotel occupancy at 72.3 percent.

Neither hotel and vacation rental daily rates include 18% accommodation tax nor the various assorted fees than can together add up to as much as 50% of the total cost.

We think it’s worth noting the differences between the islands when considering Hawaii vacation rental stays.

Maui is still reeling from the effects of last year’s wildfire and from a pending ban on half of all Maui vacatoin rentals. So it came as no surprise that Maui showed a decline in demand and occupancy, but an increase in daily rates.

Oahu continues to show impressive resilience in both Honolulu hotels and vacation rentals, with a notable increase in the vacation rental supply with higher rates, although occupancy showed some decline.

Big Island had an increase in supply and daily rates too, with a slight increase in demand.

Kauai had big increases in supply and demand, a relatively consistent average nightly rate, but again with decreased occupancy.

Overall, Hawaii vacation rentals are both lagging behind their previous performance as well as underperforming when compared with hotels. In April 2024, as we previously reported, hotels had far higher occupancy and ADRs, reflecting what appears to be a consistent shift in Hawaii visitor accommodation preference. That in addition to the effects of planned regulatory measures affecting both availability attractiveness of Hawaii vacation rentals.

The ongoing changes in Hawaii’s vacation rental market are impacting visitors, property owners, and related businesses. The higher daily rates suggest that fewer people are opting for Hawaii vacation rentals, but those who do are paying more. This seems to reflect market adjustments to reduced demand and a way to compensate for lower occupancy rates.

For future vacation rental planning, understanding these trends is important. And for stakeholders, consider how legislative changes, economic pressures, competitive dynamics, and social media come together to affect the viability and sustainability of the Hawaii vacation rental market.

Will your next stay in Hawaii be a hotel or vacation rental?

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55 thoughts on “Hawaii Vacation Rentals Struggle: April Occupancy Declines, Prices Approach Hotel Stratosphere”

  1. Aloha
    We have been staying in a condo in West Maui for many years. We’re on the water, looking out to Lanai and Molokai. We have also stayed in big resort hotels with crowded, noisy pools and public areas, waiting for an elevator, trying to find a suitable parking space. The condo offers a complete kitchen, large living room and separate bedroom. The condo is quiet with assigned parking and a beautiful view.
    We will not return to an expensive hotel.
    We love ❤️ the people of Maui, they treat us like Ohana. We plan to return next January.

    1
    1. Thanks. Keep. Coming. Aloha will continue. Just be sure your building is Zoned as a Hotel. The negativity will die down soon when the truth comes out and the people pushing it are not re-elected.

      1. As it is proposed, the Apartment-zoned Minatoya properties are safe until June 2025 for West Maui and January 2026 for South Maui.

  2. Hawaii has made it clear…regardless of which island. Tourist and investors (outsiders) are not welcome. Message received.

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    1. Aloha Jon. I am sorry that you feel the way you do. As a near-40 year resident on Kauai, and one who runs 2 legal farm stays, and who helps keep the nearby beach in pristine condition, I welcome visitors with open arms and enjoy engaging with them.

      Investors from off-island, not so much, as the prices they can pay have driven up our property values and our property taxes and, since we have no intention of leaving Kauai, tax time has become more of an issue.

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  3. We vacationed on Maui for the first time as soon as the Covid restrictions were lifted. We fell in love with the island, the people, and the culture. Since then we’ve been back two more times, bringing thousands of dollars of donations for fire victims. Unfortunately we feel unwelcome by the local government. Therefore we decided to book 3 trips stateside this year to Colorado, Vermont and Florida. Good luck Maui residents!

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  4. It is unlikely I will ever stay in a vacation rental again unless hotel zoned. In my experience visiting the mainland, most STRs are located in residential areas. Several times we felt like we shouldn’t be there. What isn’t mentioned here is that Maui has a far greater number of vacation rentals than any other island, despite not having the largest population. The amount of visitors that Maui has been experiencing over the last many years is greater than the community plan calls for and more than it could handle. In many areas visitors outnumber the residents. Maui became oversaturated with STRs to the point that rates were significantly low until the post covid travel craze. Maui residents don’t want zero tourism, just balance

    4
  5. I absolutely refuse to pay a $50+ per day “resort fee” at a hotel plus ridiculous parking fees of around $70 per day, and the highest hotel tax rate in the nation. I never use any of the guest services, nor the pool when the ocean is right there, and I never eat at or see a show at the hotel… It is just a room to sleep in. I can see how tourism is down with the prices increasing, the value received is not changing, and the Hawaii government just milking its tourists and residents to line their own pockets. Hawaii used to be so magical, now it’s just a money grab.

    9
    1. I understand your outrage at the greed and overpricing of Hawaii hotels, owned by mainland corporations.

      However, please do not paint all of us who provide reasonably priced STR accommodations as “money grabbers” . We do not charge “resort fees” or parking fees, and keep our rates within reach of the average visitor. We are just trying to get by, and faced with the Mufi/Green/Hotel monster trying to shut us out.

      Aloha and e komo mai, Bruce on Kauai

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    2. To your point. Due too high vacancy and difficulty with commercial real estate (CRE) refinancing at higher rates the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea have been put on credit watch… stay tuned.

      2
  6. Hotels vs STR’s: It’s very simple. Hotels cost 4 X per bed compared to STRs and you have to eat every meal in a restaurant (another 4x cost). So average working class families making less than $200k per year can’t afford Maui hotels. But they can still afford STR’s. If the Maui Mayor, Governor and state legislature kill off the 7000 STRs that are on “the Mayor’s list”, and they average thirty 4 person rentals a year (7000x30x4=840,000) there will be 840,000 fewer visitors arriving on Maui each year. If they spend $3,000/person, GDP for Maui decreases by $2.5 Billion.

    9
    1. It’s crazy at the hotels. Why would you not rent a 2 br 2 ba 1700 sq ft STR right on the ocean for a week for $600 a night (total cost) instead? More space. You don’t need a second hotel room for kids. Costs $300 a night if shared with another couple. No Parking fee. No resort fee. A kitchen for meals. This is why the hotels hate STR’s

      5
  7. Kihei condo rentals on Maui are still the best value in Hawaii. Despite news reports, tourists are most welcome with Aloha Spirit.

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  8. My next Hawaii vacation will be in a hotel on Oahu. I have a timeshare on Maui but I won’t use it because I’ve gotten the message loud and clear that tourists are not welcome as long as residents have no homes. Good chance I’ll never be back there.

    3
    1. Imagine if all of the desirable vacation destinations sent the message that tourists are not welcome as long as residents have no homes. No one would ever go anywhere!

      4
    2. You have it completely wrong. Maui residents need your dollars. Don’t listen to the few. Pay attention to the many who need jobs and the community that needs resources.

      11
    3. Sherry, the politicians (state & local) don’t speak for the people or the owners on Maui. They are backing the big hotels who contribute substantially to their re-election funds. So ignore them. The people who actually serve Maui visitors will welcome you with extra Aloha. I’m an owner and the deals you can now get on beautiful condos here will amaze you.

      7
  9. We have been coming to Hawaii for 25 years and we have been priced out,owners have been too greedy. Sorry

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    1. Gee. I wonder if the doubling of property taxes, Maui adding its 3% TAT and the increases in other taxes have anything to do with the higher rental rates? Asking for friends who own VRs.

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      1. Dave, the greed is all in the hands of the state and local politicians. Our 900 sq ft condo pays over $12k in real estate taxes to Maui County and a total of 18% in TAT & GEC to the state & county. . Electric, insurance and cleaning have all jumped over the last couple of years. These are all fixed costs so we pay them if we have zero rentals. An Owner.

        8

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