I only went on spring break once. And the trip ended in a car wreck that totaled my friend’s SUV.
A few college roommates and myself—baseball enthusiasts, everyone of us—ventured south to Florida during our senior year to watch our teams work the rust out in spring training. Near the end of our weeklong stay, we drove about 45 minutes to the Detroit Tigers’ Joker Marchant Stadium. Our friend dropped us off before heading a few more miles down the road to visit his long-time pal, and during the trip his Toyota Highlander got T-boned, flipped on its side and propelled across four lanes of traffic by another driver.
That this friend made it out with only a few scratches was lucky.
That all of us made it out of spring break (a rite of passage for any college student) with all of our dignity still intact was nothing short of miraculous.
But our trip to southern Florida was atypical of many college co-eds, who are drawn not to baseball but to beach balls and bikinis and crowded, MTV-inspired poolside bashes instead. Such is the mass of humanity that partakes in this frivolity that entire tour companies have been created just to sell spring break packages and vacation rentals.
Likewise, certain destinations have developed a reputation for hosting the best spring break bashes in the world. U.S. News (the same group that puts together reputable rankings of universities and hospitals) lists the following 12 locales as providing the best combination of sun, fun and affordability. (These are ramen-eating, Natural Light-drinking college students, after all.)
1. South Padre Island, Texas
2. Miami Beach
3. Cancun, Mexico
4. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
5. Puerto Rico
7. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
9. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
10. Daytona, Florida
11. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
12. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
But how did these destinations’ hotel markets fare? To find the answer, I analyzed STR data* for the week ending 17 March (which my friends at sister company RRC Associates tell me is the busiest week for university spring breaks) against the comparable week in 2011. STR didn’t have a representative sample size for Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, so my results were limited to eight of the original 12 markets.
(*A big shout out to STR’s Karrie Keen for helping me pull all the data together.)
So here are this year’s spring break winners and losers. (Full disclosure: I’m no statistician or market manager—just a guy with some numbers, interpreting them based on his insight and his insight alone.)
The Florida hot spot saw the largest increases in occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room by a long shot. It also saw the highest absolute occupancy (87.4%).
Jamaica’s hotels didn’t record nearly the increases Daytona Beach did, but the country did experience notable gains across the board. Jamaica also posted the second-highest absolute ADR (next to Miami Beach) with $262.36.
The Mexican destination experienced healthy increases for the weeklong period.
Cabo San Lucas
Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, Cabo experienced the largest decreases in both ADR and RevPAR of the markets analyzed—this despite posting the second-highest occupancy increase.
The Caribbean market recorded decreases in ADR and RevPAR despite eking out a small occupancy increase during the week.
Had Miami Beach not recorded the highest absolute ADR ($280.05) and RevPAR ($239.28), it most likely would have fallen to the Losers list.
Now on to the usual goodies …
Stat of the week
+172.6%: Occupancy increase in Egypt for the month of February compared to the same period during 2011. That the market’s absolute occupancy was only 42.9% shows you just how big of a hole hoteliers are having to dig out of after last year’s Arab Spring.
Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global, which provided this data, had this to say: “One year on from the Arab Spring, we are seeing positive RevPAR growth on lower base values for Northern Africa, as can be seen in Cairo, which reported 96% RevPAR recovery to EGP266 ($44.01 ).”
Quote of the week
“It’s sad, really, for a lot of us who have grown up with Holidex. It’s the heartiest of all machines—it never goes down—but it’s just impossible to update it anymore. They’ve tried adding Band-Aids, but it’s time to install something that will help hoteliers keep up with today’s generation of travelers.”
—Melanie Buller, regional director of revenue management for Davidson Hotel Company, reflecting on the history of IHG’s Holidex central reservation system, in “Hoteliers bid adieu as Holidex checks out.”
Buller isn’t the only one to fondly recall her experiences with the revolutionary CRS as IHG prepares to shift to an updated system. In his fascinating retrospective, my colleague Jason Q. Freed presents the memories of such hoteliers as Mike Leven, Mark Carrier, Ray Burger and Bobby Bowers.
Comment of the week
“Having actually WORKED WITH Holidex over the years, I would say IHG has done a great job of retaining a 'backbone' which has been virtually bulletproof and modifying it as best possible to continue it's (sic) life. Leven was instrumental in it's (sic) life when he convinced the company to give FREE computer software and systems to all existing franchisees in the early 90's. This not ony (sic) enabled HIRO (revenue maximization) but also enabled DAILY revenue and statistical transmission...years before STR even had the thought. The reality is that NO SYSTEMS (until the last few years) ever offered the hope of the volume and speed that Holidex did- now that THAT time has come, IHG is moving on. Kudos to all....and farewell to a sturdy friend.”
—Commenter “Lloyd” wishing Holidex a fond farewell after reading “Hoteliers bid adieu as Holidex checks out.”
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.