LIHU‘E — Hawaiian Airlines and two major hotels on Kaua‘i gear up for the reopening of trans-Pacific travel on Oct. 15, while one hotel expects an uptick, another has seen a decrease in bookings.
Marissa Villegas, Hawaiian Airlines senior specialist and external communications, said Hawaiian has been encouraged by new bookings and anticipate the first week of the pre-travel testing program to be a bit busier due to pent up demand and residents wait to return home until the exemption is in place.
“While we are looking forward to resuming more service, our transpacific flying (flights we operate between Hawai’i and our international and U.S. mainland cities) will still be 67% below 2019 levels, while our Neighbor Island flying will be 55% lower than ago,” Villegas said. “Also, we’re continuing to cap our cabin capacity at 70% through Dec. 15 to allow for onboarding distancing.”
According to Villegas, Hawaiian has been apart of Hawai‘i for more than 90 years and they are excited to safely welcome more travelers back while also generating critical economic activity for Hawai‘i’s communities.
“We will continue to reinforce our comprehensive health and safety procedures, which includes our updated mask policy, enhanced cleaning measures such as frequent disinfecting of lobby areas, kiosks, and ticket counters, electrostatic aircraft cabin spraying, plexiglass barriers at staffed airport counters, and sanitizer wipe distribution to all guests,” Villegas said. “Starting Oct. 15, our guests traveling to Hawai‘i from the U.S. mainland will have access to convenient, state-verified tests they may take at-home or at one of our exclusive drive-through sites.”
Hotels take stock
Marriott made social media headlines this week, when it was announced on travelingformiles.com that 122 North American properties, including the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort, would be changing owners. Service Properties Trust, a company that owns over a hundred properties currently operating under various Marriott brands, has announced that it is terminating all of its agreements with Marriott effective 31 January 2021.
Kaua‘i Marriott Resort &Beach Club General Manager Paul Toner cleared the air and said “it’s business as usual.”
“It’s between Marriott entity and the hotel portion. They are in discussion, no word yet, we are still in business,” Toner said. “We saw an uptick for the first two weeks and see it picking up through November for the holidays.”
Toner said he has been walking around the property with the operation teams, reaching out to their guest about their services, and using the time before Oct. 15 to renovate their pool.
“Please follow the safety protocols and bear with us while you enjoy the beautiful facility and the island,” Toner said.
Another hotel, Kauai Beach Resort has not seen an uptick in bookings yet, instead has seen a 10% decrease in sales and before the reopening of trans-Pacific travel.
“We been opened, taking care of our guests both local and visitors who have to quarantine, working closely with KVB (Kauai Visitors Bureau) and the county,” said Robert Minicola, general manager of KBR. “We haven’t seen an uptick yet, instead we have seen more cancellations.”
While keeping his staff and guest safe by increasing the frequency of cleaning using hospital-grade disinfectants on all high-touch surfaces, and areas such as common spaces, recreational areas, public restrooms, and all employee areas, Minicola has also trained his staff on comprehensive COVID-19 protocols.
“When you get to the lobby, you will see our hand sanitizer stations and our staff wearing masks,” Minicola said.
For KBR, they are doing their best to meet their guests’ needs, keeping their staff and guest safe, while going through their own crisis.
“Since the pandemic, we had to furlough about 85 of our employees and we are hoping to bring them back when things get better,” Minicola said. “We have been working with Kauai Food Bank to distribute food to our employees and our guest through this pandemic.”