Staycations no more? Maui hotel room rates remain high so residents look elsewhere

Kāʻanapali Beach looking out towards Puʻu Kekaʻa from the Kāʻanapali Beach hotel. PC: Wendy Osher (November 2021)

As Maui County room rates spike to the highest prices some have seen, some residents are wondering if staycations are a thing of the past.

Upcountry resident Patricia Artates has been looking at West Maui hotel rooms for family birthdays later this month. When a short stay would cost them thousands, her family decided against it. 

“We may as well go to Disneyland for that much,” she said, adding that the prices are the highest she’s ever seen. “It was ridiculous.”

Lahaina resident Dustin Kaleiopu works at a hotel and said it’s challenging even for employees to schedule staycations.  

“It’s crazy to think that the people who actually operate these hotels and keep them running are unable to afford stays there even with their employee benefits,” he said.  

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Kaleiopu added that friends recently had to postpone house fumigation dates because they couldn’t manage to find hotel rooms.

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Kamaʻāina incentives abounded in 2020 when hotels reopened after mandatory pandemic shutdowns. 

By 2021, though, Maui County hotels’ average daily rates reached a record high, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority data. December 2021 set a new record at $736, a roughly 47% increase over 2020 and a 36% increase over 2019. 

Prices have remained high since last year, causing some to wonder if $300-plus nightly rates are the new normal.

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A two-night stay for two adults next weekend on Maui ranges from $300 per night to $1,300 per night.

Even non-luxury markets are seeing steep nightly price tags. 

Next weekend Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului is $308 per night for kamaʻāina; Courtyard Maui in Kahului $759 per night; and Maui Coast Hotel in Kīhei is $415 per night, according to individual websites. 

In the luxury market, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is about $1,300 per night, and Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort is about $1,200 per night.

Lisa Paulson, Maui Hotel & Lodging Association executive director, acknowledged the high prices. Her nonprofit represents Maui hotels, timeshares, resort condominiums and other businesses.

“I empathize and I understand — even my friends and family are going other places for staycations,” she told Maui Now. 

High costs, though, aren’t just about supply and demand, Paulson said. Actually, staffing shortages are causing some hotels to control the amount of rooms available.

“Right now due to staffing a lot of our properties are compressing their occupancy in order to give guests the experience they’re expecting,” she said. “This does lead to the need to increase rates in order to cover their expenses.”

Paulson said that some hotels began controlling the amount of rooms available starting last fall.

Because staffing shortages are happening around the nation, the hotel official doesn’t see properties being able to recover quickly and lower prices any time soon.

But Paulson doesn’t think high prices will last forever. 

“This is still a recovery period for us,” she said. “I do see hope for the future.”

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