‘A solid month’

It starts late in the month, but Spoleto Festival USA gives Charleston hoteliers and other hospitality firms a late burst of business each May. The May 24 opening ceremonies of the 17-day arts extravaganza are seen here through the windows of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church at Meeting and Broad streets.

Brad Nettles

Charleston-area hotels sold 11,400 more room nights in May over the same month a year ago, boosting occupancy by 1.3 percent.

“May was a solid month,” said Perrin Lawson, deputy director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Boosted by Spoleto Festival USA and the usual surge of spring visitors, hotel occupancy was a healthy 77.5 percent in May, according to the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis.

Also, hotels saw a 2.8 percent increase in the average daily room rate to $140.37 and a 4.2 percent boost in a key metric called revenue per available room. That rose to $108.86.

Three of the four submarkets in the county — peninsular Charleston, West Ashley and North Charleston — had higher occupancy rates last month over May 2012. East Cooper hotels reported fewer guests, down slightly.

The city’s historic district and the rest of peninsular Charleston led all submarkets in overall occupancy at 86.7 percent, and it also posted the highest average daily room rate in the region of $198. Revenue per available room came in at $172, also the highest in the area.

West Ashley reported 83.4 percent occupancy while North Charleston posted 70 percent occupancy.

For the year, occupancy is down 1 percent, mainly because about 300 more rooms are available than there were a year ago, mainly because of several new lodgings that have been built or opened.

Downtown Charleston saw its first new hotel in a decade come online earlier this year.

The 120-room Holiday Inn Charleston Historic Downtown on Meeting Street and the 153-room Holiday Inn Express, a former Best Western that was redeveloped, opened over the winter, adding to the number of available rooms.

Others have opened in North Charleston, mostly around the Ashley Phosphate Road area.

And more rooms are on the way.

At least 1,500 new hotel rooms are proposed, mainly across peninsular Charleston.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.