Slim pickings on Sydney hotel rooms as business travel hits peak

If you are planning on staying in Sydney in the next few weeks and haven't booked a hotel room yet, you may be hard pressed to find one at a reasonable price.

Many Sydney hotels are booked solid with business travellers and last Tuesday Australia's biggest hotel group, Accor, had its "no vacancy" sign dusted off for its 14 city hotels that include the Sofitel, Novotel, Pullman and Mercure.

"Our Sydney CBD hotels were all close to 100 per cent capacity," said Accor Pacific chief operating officer Simon McGrath.

"Generally the last week in November and first two weeks in December are our busiest periods and it comes off the back of a strong corporate market," he said.

"With three weeks left of doing business before Christmas, we're finding a lot of people cramming in last-minute work trips and business meetings."

Mantra's two CBD Sydney hotels are also operating at near-full capacity.

The hotel group's director of sales and revenue, Kent Davidson, said Sydney has experienced a return in consumer confidence in the lead up to Christmas, with more functions and events than in previous years.

"This is off the back of a solid quarter in the corporate market with a revitalised financial market leading to increased business travel to the Sydney financial hub. The combination of the two has led to a very positive period for the Sydney hotel sector."

Carol Giuseppi, a director for Tourism Accommodation Australia, said the demand for hotel rooms peaks at this time each year.


"But this year the peak is bigger than before," she said.

"It demonstrates strong business confidence."

Ms Giuseppi said the high occupancy rates may not necessarily mean high prices unless bookings are being made at the last minute. yesterday listed rooms at the Hilton this Saturday from $369 and at the Vibe from $389, but rooms for Saturday, January 18, are available for $279 and $161.

"There is an easing of demand as we get into the Christmas holidays and the leisure market takes over from the business market," Ms Giuseppi said.

Accor's Mr McGrath said similarly high occupancy rates are being experienced in Melbourne.

The hotel crush has also been exacerbated by the World Congress on Railway Research that has attracted about 2500 railway executives in Sydney this week and by Melbourne's World Diabetes Congress that starts on December 2 with more 12,500 delegates.