June 30, 2021

Hoteliers Expect Travelers to Lengthen Stays Over July Fourth Weekend

47.7 Million Americans Projected To Travel for Holiday

Hoteliers in the U.S. are banking on guests extending their length of stays for the long July Fourth weekend, which falls on a Sunday this year.

According to data from AAA Travel, more than 47.7 million Americans are projected to travel by road and air between July 1-5.

"This will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million," the AAA news release states.

Lauren Goodman, general manager of The Monsaraz San Diego, part of Hilton's Tapestry Collection, said in an email interview that she is anticipating guests will extend their stays, creating a four- to five-day weekend, either arriving on Thursday or Friday and staying through Monday or Tuesday.

She said the booking window is still incredibly short, but there's been an increase in leads for social events.

"There's a renewed sense of optimism of group and corporate returning sooner, with people feeling more comfortable with travel and being out and about again. We are expecting San Diego to sell out for the holiday weekend, with Saturday night being the strongest occupancy of the weekend," she said.

Matt Marquis, CEO of Pacifica Hotels, said as California recently lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, he is using the July Fourth weekend to launch summer programs at his hotels.

"It's a good starting point to kickoff," he said.

Booking pace for Pacifica's hotels in the Central Coast area of California are 20% above 2019 levels right now, while its hotels in the Los Angeles area are 15% to 20% behind.

Marquis said this time last year there was so much uncertainty around COVID-19 that many people were in lockdown mode, only traveling within an hour away from their homes.

So far, booking trends show many of Pacifica's guests will be staying until the Monday after the holiday, and in some cases, even longer as more guests have turned to remote working, he said.

Shaun Robinson, general manager of the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, California, said his property suspended operations in April and reopened May 20.

"Then we saw a good supply of reservations come through," he said.

For the July Fourth weekend, the 1,572-room hotel is already close to selling out. On July 4, he said occupancy is almost as high as it is the day before.

"Sunday, even in the best of times, is generally one of the lower-occupancy days of the week," he said. "Being [that] July Fourth this time is on a Sunday, it stays very strong and people are extending [their stays]."

Scott Berger, general manager of the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, said via email he expects to see a spike in both local and national travelers during the July Fourth weekend.

He anticipates a majority of guests will stay through Monday. He also expects locals will opt to stay one or two nights and use the rooftop pool while getting a glimpse of fireworks displays.

Preparing For the Demand, Creating Packages

Goodman said her team at The Monsaraz San Diego has been focused on planning ahead to make sure they have all the food, beverages and amenities available as lead times and demand for product are longer than normal right now.

"We are a group of perfectionists, so we are constantly working on the best way to be efficient in our processes and extremely effortless in our approach to a busy weekend," she said.

The Monsaraz will have special programming for the weekend for both guests and locals. On Friday, the property is partnering with Ketel One Vodka for a Spritz evening in its courtyard. On July Fourth, an intimate, ticketed fireworks viewing party with a champagne toast and light snacks will take place at the property's "Hideaway," which is an open-air lookout on the top level of the hotel. A few different fireworks shows are expected to be seen from the viewing party, she said.

For the holiday, Marquis said his Wayfarer Downtown Los Angeles hotel will have a new summer cocktail program; Marina Del Rey Hotel will kickoff its Sunday pool parties; Inn at the Pier in Pismo Beach will have a "red, white and brew" event; and Ocean Point Ranch in Cambria will host a movie night July 3-4.

To help alleviate pressures amid the labor shortage when larger events are happening, Marquis said Pacifica has the luxury of a task force.

"We have what I call a minuteman staff, managers and associates come over and really supplement the team that is strapped as we're trying to hire," he said. "It's a very effective use of labor right now."

Marquis said he hopes to use the minuteman strategy for the July Fourth weekend, but that could be a challenge as most of his properties will be busy.

Berger said guests at the Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills value privacy and comfort.

"We’ve developed a spectacular package in partnership with Private Jet Services to meet their needs. Our newly launched Red Carpet Experience Package includes a private jet charter, VIP check-in, champagne and caviar upon arrival, accommodations in one of our suites, private dinner on our rooftop and more for the perfect Fourth of July escape," he said.

He said while the on-property spa is closed for renovations, the team has prepared its rooftop and French bistro-style restaurant, Avec Nous, for guests.

The Hilton Anaheim initially brought back just over 100 team members who were furloughed when it reopened in May. Up until until now, Robinson's property brought back almost five times that number.

Much of that ramp-up time included intensively retraining staff. He said they could not start operating until that happened first.

Because the Hilton Anaheim is close to Disneyland, it draws in families, and much of his property's July Fourth activities will be focused around its pool.

Typically the families go to Disneyland for most of the day, then come back in the early evening. Robinson plans to activate the pool through a movie night, where kids and families can sit on pool floats.

Copyright 2021 CoStar Realty Information Inc. All rights reserved. From https://www.costar.com. By Dana Miller, Hotel News Now.

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