Hotels Hotels in New Orleans and Oahu excel in first quarter By Danny King / April 24, 2012 Share 1 -- U.S. hotels nearly maintained last year’s sales growth rate in the first quarter of 2012, as metropolitan markets continued to benefit from increased travel demand. First-quarter revenue per available room (RevPAR) at U.S. hotels increased 7.9%, down slightly from the 8.2% RevPAR growth for all of 2011, according to Smith Travel Research (STR). A slight dip in sales growth within the largest 25 U.S. cities was almost offset by accelerating sales growth in smaller markets. Room rate and occupancy contributed equally to first-quarter RevPAR gains. Nashville, New Orleans and Oahu were the three fastest-growing U.S. markets in terms of sales, with RevPAR growth rates between 16% and 18%. In fact, New Orleans’ RevPAR grew 17% for the first quarter, compared with 7.5% for all of last year. Chicago’s RevPAR increased 14% for the first quarter, compared with 8.8% for all of last year. Dallas was the poorest performing market in terms of sales growth, as first-quarter RevPAR fell 3.5%. And hotels in Washington, D.C. continued to be impacted by government-related per-diem decreases, with RevPAR falling 1.5%, according to STR. Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.