With occupancy down, hotel bargains continue into new year

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Desperate to fill rooms, Hawaii's hoteliers have turned to the most obvious way to get bodies in beds: dropping room rates.

Hotel occupancy dropped 6.5%, and rates hit their lowest level for all 2008 in October, according to Hospitality Advisors. About 67% of rooms were filled that month, vs. 73.6% in October 2007. The only growth was seen at budget properties, where occupancies rose 0.7% in October.

Maui reported the largest occupancy decline, dropping from 73.6% to 61.6% for October, while the Big Island saw the biggest rate dip, 7.2%, to $170.24 per night. Oahu fared best in October, with occupancy falling from 74.7% to 73.2%. Statewide, guests paid an average daily rate of $177.41 in 2008, a 3.4% drop from the year before.

What does that mean for travelers? They're being courted with free nights; resort, spa, grocery and dining credits; and free or discounted parking.

Fall incentives were extended through the holiday season and into part or all of 2009.

Hawaii on sale

Current Hawaii hotel bargains include:

• Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii's Sunsational Savings promotion, good through the end of the first quarter of 2009, includes a third night free and a breakfast or meal credit daily. Some hotels also offer a free room upgrade. There's also a 20% discount at Mandara Spa and 15% off at select restaurants. Visit www.starwoodhawaii.com.

Starwood also celebrates the Jan. 20 reopening of the Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki with the 1927 Package, which includes luxury Royal Grove accommodations (four-night minimum, first night at $19.27, with additional nights from $450 a night), dinner for two at the new Azure Restaurant, two mai tais and a memento gift. Available Feb. 1 to June 30; visit www.royal-hawaiian.com.

• Aqua Hotels & Resorts' Nifty to Be Fifty Statehood Special at its 12 Waikiki hotels in 2009 includes $50 off the first night with a minimum three-night stay. Also included: a free amenity for guests ages 50 or older; a free, 1959-inspired postcard; and a half-hour mini-massage for $50. Full payment is required at time of booking. See www.aquaresorts.com.

• The Kahala Hotel & Resort, which opened its doors in 1964, commemorates its 45th anniversary with a rate of $196.40 for IATA member travel agents in January. The rate includes daily breakfast buffet for two and one collectors' series beach towel per room. To book, call (800) 367-2525 with an IATA I.D. number.

• Honua Kai Resort & Spa on Maui is debuting its first phase on Jan. 28 with introductory rates from $195 per night and 50% off published rack rates. Rates are valid through Dec. 18. Honua Kai will offer 628 one- to three-bedroom suites on 38 acres in North Beach Kaanapali; phase one comprises 318 suites, a lobby cafe, adult pool and fitness center. In spring 2010, the resort adds 310 suites, a spa and more. Visit www.honuakaimaui.com.

• Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk offers visitors up to four hours of free valet parking when they have lunch at one of several restaurants at Waikiki Beach Walk. The offer is valid daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Restaurants include the Cheeseburger Beachwalk, Roy's Waikiki, Yard House, Kaiwa, Giovanni Pastrami and Taormina Sicilian Cuisine. Visit www.waikikibeachwalk.com.

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