Meetings are slowly returning to the lap of luxury.

Bruce Himmelstein, vice president at Ritz-Carlton, says demand for corporate meetings has increased in the past few months, particularly for small meetings. Over the summer, meetings activity for the fall looked much bleaker, says Himmelstein, but a stock market upturn and economic rebound has led to an unprecedented short-term demand for meetings at Ritz.

Brian Ferguson, vice president at Smith Travel Research, isn’t surprised. "Rates had been lowered so aggressively at luxury properties the last few years that they are now much more competitive," he says.

In fact, now upscale hotels are holding steady on rates while midscale and economy properties are reducing theirs.

This is all good news for the luxury sector. Reports Ferguson: "In September, RevPAR (revenues per available room) for upscale hotels increased 0.5% over the previous September. By comparison, midscale and economy chains saw revPAR declines of 0.9, 0.8, and 1% respectively for the same period."