James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Hamilton hotel owners dispute rise in prices

Room rates have been lifted only for All Black games and Fieldays, says the Waikato Motel Association. Photo / Greg Bowker
Room rates have been lifted only for All Black games and Fieldays, says the Waikato Motel Association. Photo / Greg Bowker

The price of a hotel room has risen more in Hamilton than anywhere else in New Zealand over the past six months, a survey says.

But the survey's findings are being rejected by Hamilton hoteliers, many of whom say they haven't raised their charges for years.

The survey by hotels.com showed that New Zealand travellers paid an average of $133 for a hotel room for the six months to June - an increase of 5 per cent on the first half of last year.

Leading the charge with a 27 per cent increase over the survey period was Hamilton, where a hotel room cost an average of $126 a night.

The percentage increase was slightly ahead of Christchurch (up 25 per cent) where the average cost of a room was $146.

Wellington (up 7 per cent to $130) and Auckland (up 1 per cent to $126) had smaller increases.

But the reported rises have surprised people in the Hamilton hotel industry, and most say the ongoing financial downturn meant they had not lifted their rates.

Mike Ward, of the Waikato Motel Association, said the findings were "absolute rubbish" and apart from motels increasing their prices 10 to 15 per cent for events such as like All Black test matches and Fieldays prices had remained stationary for the past three years.

He knew of four motel owners who had left the industry because they weren't making any money.

"If we go too far above our normal prices the reaction is pretty much immediate, people will just say 'you're trying to rip me off' so we get no advantage in trying to screw people."

Trevor Armour, of the Hamilton Airport Motor Inn, said his hotel had corporate, event and rack rates that had been set in October 2010 and had not changed since.

He was trying to keep his rates competitive so he had not raised his prices.

Hamilton and Waikato Regional Tourism chief executive Kiri Goulter said accommodation pricing was a commercial decision.

She said the region has had a positive year with guest nights for the year to June up 4.4 per cent.

The survey said visitor numbers from Europe and the United States were declining, and more than half all hotel rooms were taken by New Zealanders.

Last year's Rugby World Cup and the Christchurch earthquakes continued to influence average hotel rates.

New Zealand travellers faced price rises in more than two-thirds of the international destinations surveyed but the strength of the New Zealand dollar meant many of the destinations still remained attractive.

New York was the most expensive destination for New Zealand travellers averaging $337 a night for a room.

- NZ Herald

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