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econowatch/dy/11″/mike1st/mark2nd DOUGLAS YOUNG Staff Reporter Valley hotel operators saw both their average occupancy rate and average nightly room rate post healthy gains last year, according to this month’s Valley Econowatch. On the average night in December, 63.37 percent of San Fernando Valley hotel rooms were occupied, a 9.8 percent improvement over December 1995. The average Valley hotel room rate rose in December to $90.14 per night vs. $83.16 in December 1995. The positive trend capped off a year in which occupancy rates in the Valley approached capacity levels on peak-demand days, according to Bruce Baltin, a senior vice president at PKF Consulting, which tracks hotel occupancy and room rates nationwide. Both occupancy and room rates in the Valley will continue to rise in 1997, though the increase in occupancy will probably begin to slow this year, according to Baltin. “For 1997, we’re forecasting that occupancy will be up about another point or so. That’s the highest it can get,” Baltin said. “Rates will also be up about 6 percent.” Baltin attributed last year’s strong Valley showing to the booming entertainment-related business in Burbank and Universal City, which comprise two of the area’s three biggest hotel submarkets. A strong year for the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park also contributed to the strong year, he added. The Valley’s third major hotel submarket, Warner Center in Woodland Hills, also fared well, Baltin said, thanks to a general growth in business travel. The high occupancy levels will probably generate some interest in new hotel development in 1997, as room rates reach the point where new development becomes attractive, Baltin said. Baltin noted that two hotels the Residence Inn and a Fairfield Inn, both in Valencia were completed in late February. In addition, Newhall Land and Farming Co. and Hyatt Hotels Corp. recently announced that Newhall Land will develop a 250-room Hyatt hotel in Valencia, with a tentative opening date in the spring or summer of 1998. Upon completion, the Valencia Hyatt will be the first new full-service hotel developed in L.A. County since 1992, Baltin said.

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