Lodging losses

This San Antonio property makes more money than most hotels in Texas

This San Antonio property makes more money than most hotels in Texas

Hotel Emma
A historic downturn for Texas hotels didn't stop guests from booking stays at the Hotel Emma, which was among the state's highest-performing properties. Photo by Jason Risner

New numbers from hotel data provider Source Strategies highlight just how badly the COVID-19 pandemic damaged San Antonio lodging industry in 2020. But one beloved local property bucked the trend, making more money than nearly every other hotel in Texas.

report from San Antonio-based Source Strategies shows locals hotels saw revenue plummet by 49.2 percent, the second biggest drop for any Texas metro area. 

San Antonio hotel revenue also took a major tumble, falling from $1.4 billion in 2019 to just $715 million in 2020, the report says. And at 42.7 percent, San Antonio had the lowest occupancy rate of all Texas' major metros last year.

Further underscoring the financial nightmare of 2020, hotels in the Alamo City averaged $39.70 for revenue per available room (or RevPAR, a key indicator of financial success in the hotel industry). That figure was nearly $32 below where it stood in 2019.

“Source Strategies has been tracking hotels in Texas since 1988, and [2020]'s downturn has been unlike anything we have seen before,” Todd Walker, president of Source Strategies, says in a March 8 news release. “The worst year of the Great Recession, 2009, saw lodging revenues decline 15 percent year over year. This pandemic downturn is nearly three times the severity — a contraction of over $5 billion statewide. Hopefully, we will see a return of leisure travel in the second half of the year as vaccinations become more widespread, but business travel will take longer to come back.”

The Austin area, however saw the worst revenue decline of any Texas metro area, plummeting by 55 percent in 2020 compared with 2019. Regional hotel revenue tumbled from almost $1.75 billion in 2019 to nearly $785 million in 2020, the report says.

None of Texas’ major metro areas — Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, or San Antonio — notched hotel occupancy rates above the state average of 46.3 percent in 2020, the report says. Beaumont-Port Arthur’s occupancy rate (61.4 percent) topped all Texas metro areas last year.

According to the report, hotel revenue across the state fell to $7.28 billion last year, down 40.9 percent from $12.3 billion in 2019.

Despite the brutal drubbing of San Antonio's hotel sector in 2020, one local property claimed a spot among the state’s top 10 performers for the year: The Hotel Emma at No. 4 with a RevPAR of $184.77.

In the state’s other major metro areas, here are the top RevPAR performers last year:

  • Austin — The Commodore Perry Estate, $245.47 RevPAR (No. 1 in the state) and The Lake Austin Spa Resort $196.35, RevPAR (No. 3)
  • Houston — The Post Oak Hotel, $170.53 RevPAR (No. 5 statewide)
  • Dallas — Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, $153.45 RevPAR (No. 6 statewide)