Hotels in New Orleans and Oahu excel in first quarter

By Danny King
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.
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