Demand for hotel rooms in key California business markets is pushing up room rates far above the national average, according to a new report. STR, a firm that tracks hotel industry performance and metrics, this week released data for room rates in major cities during the week of March 13-19 and compared them with the same period a year earlier. It found that among the nation’s top 25 markets, the biggest increase in average daily rates was in Los Angeles/Long Beach, where the average room rate soared by 14 percent, to $174 per night. The higher room rates corresponded with a big increase in demand: STR said the average occupancy rate for Los Angeles/Long Beach hotels hit 88 percent, a gain of 6.4 percent. That compares with the national average of daily rates that increased just 4.2 percent (to $127) and occupancy of 70.5 percent, a gain of 1.9 percent. To read more at Travel Skills, click here.