St. John Hotels Forecasting Sunny Summer 2010 Season

Caneel Bay Resort expects to have around 60% occupancy this summer season.

As the weather warms up on the island, hotels are projecting a sunnier forecast this summer compared to last year.

“Right now it is looking better than last year, which is great — people are booking a little further out,” said Stephanie King, manager of The Inn at Tamarind Court. “June and July are already looking better. It is looking like I am going to pass last year.”

Tamarind is already booked at 30 to 40 percent occupancy for June and July, but King said a substantial amount of business comes from locals and walk-in day trippers from neighboring islands who decide to stay overnight at the affordable inn just a short walk away from Cruz Bay hot spots.

“We are the cheapest on the island next to the campground,” King said.

During June and July, standard rates are $120 a night and they drop to $110 in August. Locals and wedding parties also can take advantage of 10 percent off year round — a special King said helps boost the hotel’s occupancy rates.

This past winter season, Tamarind fared about the same as last year, averaging 75 to 80 percent occupancy with some weeks completely booked. King said the inn will close for the last week in September and the first week in October for annual cleaning and maintenance.

Caneel Bay Resort will also close its exclusive grounds for the second year in a row — shutting its doors September 7 through October 20 to make infrastructure improvements, according to Nikolay Hotze, the resort’s managing director.

Hotze said the resort had a successful winter season — beating its budgeted forecasts and growing by six occupancy points since 2009.

“Overall, we have seen a great four months of the year — business has been extremely well,” Hotze said. “In January of 2009, we had 55 percent occupancy and we were able to grow that by 14 percent. We were not expecting that — we budgeted for 58 percent and we had 69 percent occupancy.”

February and March hit above projections at 80 percent occupancy and April stayed at 74 percent — a number Hotze said was expected.

“Last year we offered more specials to get to where we wanted to be, and this year the demand was high so we could grow our rates and didn’t have to give so many specials away,” he said.  “St. John was very busy, which definitely helps in our busiest and highest rated months. We hope that continues toward the end of 2010.”

Hotze said this year’s summer season is difficult to predict, but he believes occupancy will average in the low 60s.

“This coming May, June and July, it is hard to say,” he said. “It is a little bit slower now, but last year it seemed to pick up very last minute and we are hoping for the same last minute pick up.”

The Westin St. John Hotel and Villas also topped last year’s first quarter and is projecting a five to six point occupancy rise over 2009 for its second quarter, according to general manager Mike Ryan.

Ryan said the Westin’s summer is already looking strong with June projected to be up between four and six points from last year, July up two to three points and August higher than 2009, though not as significantly.

“It’s all thumbs up,” he said. “Our first quarter was in the mid- to high-80 percentile and our second quarter will also be in the 80s. June looking in the low 80s, July is looking like it will be in the 80s, but then August will fall off into the 70s.”