Hotel occupancy rate across US drops to 22%

For the top 25 markets, the numbers are even lower, according to latest STR report

From left: Intercontinental Miami, Hotel 166 in Chicago and the Ritz-Carlton in New York (Credit: IC Miami Hotel, Google Maps and The Ritz-Carlton)
From left: Intercontinental Miami, Hotel 166 in Chicago and the Ritz-Carlton in New York (Credit: IC Miami Hotel, Google Maps and The Ritz-Carlton)

The coronavirus pandemic continued to batter the U.S. hotel market in the first week of April.

The national hotel occupancy rate plunged to 21.6 percent for the week ending April 4, a nearly 69 percent drop from the same time last year, according to data from hotel research firm STR. The rate for the last week of March was 22.6 percent.

For the top 25 markets in the U.S., the drop was more staggering: Occupancy fell to 19.4 percent, down about 75 percent from 2019. Of those top markets, Hawaii’s Oahu Island recorded the largest year-over-year occupancy drop of about 91 percent to the only single-digit occupancy level of just 7 percent.

In New York City, the hotel occupancy rate came in at 18.3 percent, which is about 79 percent lower than the same time last year, according to STR. That occupancy figure is slightly higher than the nearly 15 percent reported for the last week of March.

The Miami/Hialeah market recorded its worst week yet during the pandemic, with a 18.5 percent occupancy rate. That is down about 77 percent year over year. Chicago and Los Angeles notched slight increases during the first week of April from the week before, but the occupancy rates were still down significantly year over year.

Data worsened from last week, but there are patterns emerging. Economy hotels had the highest occupancy rates, and interstate and suburban properties also had top rates among location types, said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights.

“This shows there are still pockets of demand while more than 75 percent of the rooms around the country are empty,” Freitag added.

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With the global economy reeling and cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami under stay-at-home orders, hotels have been emptying out or shuttering altogether. Many of them had already been struggling with debt payments before the virus hit, and recently have been forced to furlough and lay off thousands of staffers. Some of the hotels that are open have been adding to their occupancy by working with municipalities to house Covid-19 patients or people who have been exposed to the virus.

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Other key metrics for the industry also were troubled.

The national average daily rate for the first week of April came in at $76.51, down about 42 percent from last year. And revenue per available room dropped about 82 percent year over year to $16.5, per STR.

The luxury Ritz-Carlton, at 50 Central Park South, for instance, reported Wednesday that it intends to temporarily let over 300 employees go because of Covid-19, according to a state filing. The Fairfield Inn at 100 Greenwich Street near the World Trade Center said the same, though the hotel did not disclose how many employees will or have already lost their jobs. On Tuesday, the Hudson Hotel, at 358 West 58th Street, said it was temporarily laying off 212 workers.

Write to Mary Diduch at