After a strong first quarter, the April performance figures for regional hotels were a slight dampener and London room rates dropped, according to the latest figures from PKF hotel consultancy services.

The combination of a marginal 0.1% fall in room occupancy in regional hotels and a small increase of 0.6% in average room rate created just a 0.5% improvement on April 2005 figures, a sharp contrast to the 8.2% uplift in rooms yield for March 2006.

In London, the early spring enthusiasm generated by a 14.4% increase in rooms yield in March also drizzled away as room rates dropped by 4.5%. This is because there are traditionally fewer business visitors over the Easter holiday period. However, strong room occupancy growth of 7.6% helped to push rooms yield up by 2.8% on April 2005 figures.

Easter failed to boost the number of domestic, North American and Japanese visitors to the capital which fell by 5.5%, 3.7% and 28.1% on last year’s figures respectively although visitors from Europe were up 3.6%.

Robert Barnard, partner for hotel consultancy services at PKF, said: “April’s weather was quite changeable with several unsettled spells of rain, sleet, hail and snow which will have encouraged anyone contemplating an Easter holiday in the UK to book the first available flight to sunnier climes.

“While the regional figures are disappointing given the strong start to 2006, there is still some good news overall. London hotels achieved strong growth in occupancy rates and a modest improvement in rooms yield. Hopefully, the drop in room rates was only a temporary measure to encourage Easter leisure visitors and the strong growth trends will resume in May.”