Lodging losses

This Austin resort made more money than any other hotel in Texas despite pandemic

Austin resort made more money than any hotel in Texas during pandemic

Commodore Perry Estate
A historic downturn for Texas hotels didn't stop guests from booking stays at the Commodore Perry Estate, which was among the state's highest-performing properties. Photo courtesy of Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection

New numbers from hotel data provider Source Strategies highlight just how badly the COVID-19 pandemic damaged Austin’s lodging industry in 2020. But one brand-new Central Austin resort bucked the trend, making more money than any other hotel in Texas.

report from San Antonio-based Source Strategies shows hotels in the Austin metro area saw revenue plummet by 55 percent in 2020 compared with 2019 — the worst revenue drop for any Texas metro area. Regional hotel revenue tumbled from almost $1.75 billion in 2019 to nearly $785 million in 2020, the report says.

Among Texas metros, Austin also experienced the biggest decline (41 percent) in the number of room nights sold last year, according to the report. The city's hotel occupancy rate for 2020 fell below 50 percent, settling at 45 percent.

None of Texas’ major metro areas — Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio — notched hotel occupancy rates above the state average of 46.3 percent in 2020, the report says. Beaumont-Port Arthur’s occupancy rate (61.4 percent) topped all Texas metro areas last year.

Further underscoring the financial nightmare of 2020, hotels in the Austin averaged $47.26 for revenue per available room (or RevPAR, a key indicator of financial success in the hotel industry). That figure was nearly $52 below where it stood in 2019.

“Source Strategies has been tracking hotels in Texas since 1988, and [2020]'s downturn has been unlike anything we have seen before,” Todd Walker, president of Source Strategies, says in a March 8 news release. “The worst year of the Great Recession, 2009, saw lodging revenues decline 15 percent year over year. This pandemic downturn is nearly three times the severity — a contraction of over $5 billion statewide. Hopefully, we will see a return of leisure travel in the second half of the year as vaccinations become more widespread, but business travel will take longer to come back.”

According to the report, hotel revenue across the state fell to $7.28 billion last year, down 40.9 percent from $12.3 billion in 2019.

Despite the brutal drubbing of Austin’s hotel sector in 2020, two local properties claimed spots among the state’s top 10 performers for the year: The Commodore Perry Estate, which opened last year, and the Lake Austin Spa Resort. The Commodore Perry Estate ranked first in the state based on RevPAR ($245.47). The Lake Austin Spa Resort came in at No. 3, with RevPAR of $196.35.

As measured by RevPAR, nine Austin hotels landed in the top 100; that was the most of any metro area in the state.

In the state’s other major metro areas, here are the top RevPAR performers last year:

  • San Antonio — Hotel Emma at the Pearl, $184.77 RevPAR (No. 4 statewide)
  • Houston — The Post Oak Hotel, $170.53 RevPAR (No. 5 statewide)
  • Dallas — Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, $153.45 RevPAR (No. 6 statewide).