Hotel Performance Declines as Travelers Grip Their Wallets

The hotel industry is having a rough summer. According to Fitch Ratings, hotel performance is in decline, and three loans of at least $100 million collateralized by defaulting hotel properties contributed to a record $2.2 billion net increase in U.S. commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) delinquencies in June.

Last month, 13 hotel loans totaling $596 million defaulted, including loans involving the $190 million Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix and the $117 million Loews Lake Las Vegas, Fitch reports. The $100 million Dream Hotel in New York also defaulted.

Delinquencies are expected to grow. As of June 30, an additional $608 million of Fitch-rated hotel loans was 30 days past due, the rating agency notes. The past due group included three notes totaling $293.8 million corresponding to portfolios of Red Roof Inn properties, according to Fitch.

Meanwhile, Smith Travel Research, based in Hendersonville, Tenn., also reports declines in performance by the U.S. hotel industry. In the week ending July 4, occupancy rates fell 6% year over year to 57.7%, while the average daily rate dropped 7.4% to $95.16, and revenue per available room (RevPAR) plunged 13% to $54.94.

"It continues the pattern that has been going on for a number of months. That week was actually an improvement over some of the previous weeks in the past eight to 10 months," says Smith Travel spokesman Jeff Higley. "To have RevPar only down 13% is actually an improvement."

The data documents the tough economic climate in the U.S., Higley says. "U.S. business travelers are not traveling and leisure travelers are minding their wallets and not taking those discretionary trips. They’re trying to hang on to the money they have."

However, there are bright spots. New Orleans climbed 5.4% in occupancy to 68.6% over the same period, while its average daily rate grew by 4.6% to $133.83. New Orleans registered the only double-digit increase in RevPAR, up 10.2% to $91.85, according to Smith Travel.

Hotel occupancy in the nation’s capital grew 1.4% over the same period to 67.6%, with a 0.4% increase in average daily rate to $128.43. Washington, D.C. also reported 1.8% growth in RevPAR to $86.85.

Among the top 25 markets, hotel occupancy in Boston jumped by 8.5% to 64.4%, and was up 6.2% in Miami-Hialeah, Fla. to 66.9% occupancy, while San Diego also benefited during the July 4 week, with an increase of 5.7% to gain an occupancy rate of 74.9%.

But not all markets enjoyed the same results. Nashville, Tenn. dropped 23.3% in occupancy to 48.4%, while Detroit declined 21.6% to 43.9% hotel occupancy, and Orlando slid 11.8% to 60.6% occupancy, according to Smith Travel Research.

The most dramatic drop in average daily rate performance was in New York City, which reported a decline of 23.9%, to $178.20. And the only chain hotel segment to report an increase in key metrics was the luxury sector, which experienced a 2% increase in occupancy to 60.8%. But on the downside, the luxury segment reported an 18.2% decline in its average daily rate, to $211.06.

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