South Florida hotel industry shows signs of improvement after period of decline

Sunny Isles Beach on the south side of the fishing pier on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
Sunny Isles Beach on the south side of the fishing pier on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

March signaled the first bright spot for South Florida hotels after months of declines, according to data released Wednesday by the data and analytics firm STR.

In Miami-Dade County, about 7.1 percent more room nights were sold in March compared to the same month last year. The uptick followed positive results reported in February, following four consecutive months of declining statistics.

Occupancy also rose. Hotels reported nearly 86 percent occupancy — 2 percent higher this March than March 2016. That’s the first time in eight months that hotels have been fuller than during the same month in 2016.

Still, it’s not all good news. The average daily room rate in Miami-Dade dropped nearly 7 percent year over year to about $233 versus about $251 in March 2016. Revenue per available room was down 5 percent and overall revenue was about flat, at 0.3 percent less than last March.

The market has been flooded with new hotel rooms, with about 5 percent more inventory this March than the same time last year. Other headwinds include struggling economies in Latin America, the strength of the U.S. dollar, the growth of the short-term rental industry and the lingering effects of Zika.

In Broward County, the number of room nights sold was even with March 2016. Even that was good news as it broke a streak of negative performance that began in October.

Hotels also were slightly fuller. Broward occupancy ticked up by 1 percent compared to the previous year, at 87 percent. That, too, was the end of a five-month downward slope.

As in Miami-Dade, hotels in Broward drew less revenue year over year, albeit by a smaller percentage.

The average daily rate at Broward hotels decreased by nearly 3 percent from $185.57 in March 2016 to about $180.51 last month. Revenue per available room was also down nearly 2 percent year over year and overall revenue dropped by almost 3 percent.