Home Hospitality Report: Seattle’s Hotel Market Moves Toward Recovery, Hits Plateau in Occupancy Growth

Report: Seattle’s Hotel Market Moves Toward Recovery, Hits Plateau in Occupancy Growth

Seattle, CBRE, Hotel Horizons, Puget Sound, Eastside, Redmond, Bellevue, Intercontinental Hotel
Courtesy of Garrett Parker

Seattle – September 21, 2023 – Seattle’s hotel market, hit hard by the pandemic in 2020, continues to move toward recovery, but occupancy growth has begun to plateau compared to the dramatic gains seen over the past two years according to CBRE’s latest Hotel Horizons report. Nationally, CBRE is reducing its forecast for hotel performance this year, as weaker-than-expected summer demand resulted in a shortfall in Q2 2023 revenue per available room (RevPAR).In the Puget Sound region, average daily rates (ADR) and RevPAR are both forecasted to grow this year and in 2024. In 2019, ADR was $160.15, and RevPAR was $119.00, but the two metrics dropped precipitously when the pandemic hit in 2020, down 35 and 68 percent, respectively. Both ADR and RevPAR grew significantly in 2021 and 2022 and are forecast to reach $168.74 and $116.44 this year and by 2024, are expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

“While not back to 2019 levels, hotels in downtown Seattle are doing well. Of particular note, the cruise season continues to get longer while the ships are getting bigger. This has resulted in a significant influx of new transient business. Several years ago, ships didn’t arrive until early May and left in early to mid-October, but now they’re arriving mid-April while the last ship sails the day before Halloween. In 2017, there were roughly 1.1 million cruise passengers in the city, but by the end of this season, the Port of Seattle expects to accommodate over 1.4 million,” said Alan Jutte, vice president with CBRE Hotels Advisory.

Mr. Jutte added, “Downtown also hosted Taylor Swift who performed for two nights in late July, and the month was the best ever for the hotel market. Still, there are issues, as corporate travel is still lagging pre-pandemic levels and homelessness and crime are still a blight on the neighborhood. Over on the Eastside (Redmond and Bellevue), occupancy growth remains stubbornly slow as tech companies continue to rein in employee travel. New supply will also be an issue, as the 190-unit Intercontinental Hotel will open in October in downtown Bellevue.”National Outlook
CBRE has revised its forecast for 2023 RevPAR to $96.64, up 4.6% year-over-year, but down $1.25
from its previous forecast in May 2023. The revision is predicated on a 70-basis-point (bps) decrease in expected occupancy compared with the earlier forecast. Average daily rate (ADR) is expected to increase by 3.6% in 2023, down 10 bps from the previous forecast.CBRE’s baseline-scenario forecast anticipates 1.6% average GDP growth and average inflation of 4.3% in 2023. Given the strong correlation between GDP and RevPAR growth, changes in the economic outlook will directly impact lodging industry performance.“An analysis of travel trends suggests that record numbers of Americans are traveling abroad this
summer with a particular focus on Europe and the Caribbean. Inbound international travelers to the US are still 27% below their pre-pandemic levels, causing a temporary imbalance in demand,” said Rachael Rothman, CBRE’s Head of Hotel Research & Data Analytics. “As long-haul flights from Asia are added back and visa delays ease, we expect to see an uptick in inbound international travel to the US, supporting further demand growth.”Demand declined 1.2% year-over-year in Q2 2023, the first decline since the post-pandemic recovery began in Q2 2021. ADR growth of 2.6% was in-line with CBRE’s previous forecast. The combination of lower-than-expected demand and in-line ADR growth resulted in muted RevPAR growth of 1.1% in Q2 2023, below CBRE’s forecast of 4.4%.

“Historically, there has been a strong correlation between hotel demand and GDP growth. This makes the decline in demand in Q2 2023 somewhat surprising given the stronger-than-expected GDP growth in the quarter,” said Michael Nhu, Senior Economist and CBRE’s Head of Global Hotels Forecasting. “This disconnect in trends suggests consumer preferences have temporarily shifted, as more Americans are traveling overseas, particularly to Europe and the Caribbean, rather than traveling domestically.”The best performing location type in the quarter was urban, where RevPAR growth increased 4.7%. The weakest location type was resort, where RevPAR declined 3.7%. Despite the pullback in resorts during the quarter, the location type remains nearly 15% above its pre-pandemic levels.CBRE forecasts that hotel supply will increase at a 1.0% compound annual growth rate over the next five years, below the industry’s 1.6% long-term historical average.

The August 2023 edition of Hotel Horizons for the U.S. lodging industry, 65 major markets, the six hotel chain scales and six location types can be purchased by visiting website. CBRE’s baseline-scenario forecasts do not contemplate an international war, a pervasive recession, or a more acute COVID variant. CBRE also produces forecasts based on upside and downside scenarios.