Capri, Geneva, NY most expensive for hotels as prices rise

CANBERRA Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:54am EDT

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Capri, Geneva and New York top the list for the most expensive hotel rooms, according to a global survey that showed hotel rates rising for the first time in three years as the global economy picks up.

Hotel provider Hotels.com's bi-annual hotel price index, released on Tuesday, found that although average hotel room rates are at low levels seen six years ago, there are hints of a recovery.

"We're seeing travel bookings pick up around the world," Hotels.com spokesman Victor Owens said in a statement.

Overall, prices rose about 2 percent in the second quarter of 2010 from a year ago, the first increase since the end of 2007, as business travelers and tourists started packing their bags again and heading out.

The index, now in its seventh year and based on a sample of about 91,500 properties in 15,750 locations, found second-quarter room rates rose 1 percent in Europe and the Caribbean, 3 percent in the Americas and stabilized in Asia.

Prices on the Italian island of Capri rose 7 percent, making it the most expensive destination for hotels and uprooting Monte Carlo from the top slot in 2009.

In Geneva, and Switzerland overall, average hotel room rates were up 8 percent to $254, while New York City was found to be the most expensive city for rooms in the United States, with prices up 14 percent from a year ago.

Rounding out the top 10 were Dubrovnik in Croatia, Venice, Rio de Janiero, Paris, Bali, London and Moscow.

The survey showed some of the greatest price rises happened in cities tied to major events.

This included price hikes in Cannes, France, which hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, the setting for part of Julia Roberts' new movie "Eat Pray Love."

Room rates in Bali surged 57 percent, the largest price rise for any destination.

The second biggest rise was recorded in Cape Town, host to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where room rates jumped 53 percent to average $180 a night.

Owens said a gradual return of business travel and an increase in domestic U.S. travel fueled the overall increases -- but that the price rises were not universal.

"There are, of course, still deals to be had, especially in international destinations like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Reykjavik which each saw a major drop in hotel prices during the first half of 2010," he said.

The price of a hotel room in Abu Dhabi fell on average by 46 percent, and prices in Reykjavik, Iceland, fell on average by 18 percent following a volcanic eruption and subsequent ash cloud that disrupted air travel across northern Europe in April.

The decline in prices in Abu Dhabi was fueled by an increase in the number of room as new hotels opened, and a fall in the number of corporate travelers due to the global economic crisis.

"This influential city of commerce was affected by the fall of international business travel, as was its larger neighbor, Dubai, which saw a 10 percent decrease," said Owens.

Prices in Moscow fell 8 percent, in Budapest down 7 percent and prices slipped 6 percent in Copenhagen, Cancun, Athens, Taipei, and Dublin.

The full survey can be found at:

www.hotel-price-index.com/

(Editing by Rebecca Conway)