When the owner of the luxury Phoenician resort reported year-end financial results, no negatives were spared in summing up the state of the hotel industry last year.
"For the lodging business, 2009 was the worst downturn in our lifetimes," Frits van Paasschen, chief executive officer of lodging giant Starwood Hotels and Resorts, said last week. "Even a tepid recovery will feel good."
The hotel pain was especially acute in metro Phoenix, according to new year-end numbers from industry tracker Smith Travel Research.
The Phoenix area, traditionally a corporate-meeting hot spot and big winter-vacation destination, suffered double-digit declines in every major industry measure. It was among the worst performers in the country in each category, a dubious distinction that sent some hotels to the brink of foreclosure. One, the historic Wigwam Resort, was sold at a bankruptcy auction.
Revenue per available room, a key industry measure that factors in room rates, supply and occupancy levels, fell 25.3 percent, the biggest decline among the top 25 U.S. markets tracked by Smith Travel. That was on top of an 8 percent decline in 2008, as Phoenix felt the effects of the recession earlier than most markets.
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