NORTH BAY -- Hotel occupancy rates in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties in July increased from more than 5 percent to nearly 8 percent compared with a year ago, as the lodging sector continued to rebound after two dismal years during the economic downturn, according to PKF Consulting.

Sonoma County hotels saw a 7.1 percent increase in occupancy rates to 82.2 percent countywide and a 4.7 percent increase in average daily room rates to $145.94, according to the monthly survey by San Francisco-based PKF.

Lodging in Napa County similarly had a 7.6 percent occupancy increase to 84.8 percent from a year ago, but the countywide average daily room rate stayed the same at $235.70.

Marin County hotels saw an increase of 5.6 percent in the occupancy rate to 85.3 percent from July 2010. The average daily room rate rose 6 percent to $134.56.

Revenue per available room, which includes average nightly rates and occupancy rates, increased in all three North Bay counties included in the survey -- in Sonoma County, by12.1 percent; in Napa County, by 7.6 percent; and in Marin, by 12 percent.

San Francisco had the highest increase in revenue per available room with a 21.5 percent increase in July to 89.9 percent. 

The North Bay, and Northern California as a whole, continued to post strong gains in occupancy rates and daily room rates. Larger, more luxurious hotels fared better than smaller hotels, according to the survey. The bulk of travel was for leisure, at 46 percent, while business trips accounted for 25 percent and group travel, 21 percent.

Revenue growth is expected to continue in the lodging sector across the U.S. at a rate of about 7.4 percent for the rest of the year, according to PKF.