KAPA‘A — Hotels on Kaua‘i that are not apart of the county’s enhanced movement quarantine aka “resort bubble” are gearing up for April 5, when the county returns to the state’s Safe Travels Program.
Chris Machorek, general manager of Sheraton Kaua‘i Coconut Beach Resort said his hotel has been able to remain open during the pandemic because of the Hawai‘i National Guard utilizing the facilities.
Machorek said he is very grateful to the National Guards as they were the hotel’s guests for over a year and he hopes they extend their stay past June of this year.
According to Machorek, his team has faced some obstacles due to the pandemic and he is grateful to have brought some of them back from furlough.
“We are very proud of what we do,” Machorek said. “We have 186 employees. And again, most of them do remain on furlough. Today, there’s probably about 15 or so that we’ve brought back in the last week. This has been awful.”
Machorek said he is excited to see more visitors and residents come to the hotel next month. He also said his hotel is in support of the Mayor’s office and the Department of Health and will do their part to continue to keep Kaua‘i safe.
To provide more added protection, Machorek is hoping to add a new service for all of his guests — to make sure all of his staff and guest are safe while enjoying their vacation.
“It’s a rapid test that takes about 10 minutes to get the result,” Machorek said. “It’s about a 95% effective rate. We’re hoping to do that in our lobby.”
On the North Shore, The Cliffs at Princeville’s General Manager Jim Braman said he has 75 employees. Twenty-five of those were laid off in 2020 after funds from the Paycheck Protection Program ended.
“Thankfully (we were) able to cover all 75 (employees’) insurance the whole time — all but two are back now,” Braman.
Braman said throughout 2020 The Cliffs had to try many different programs as travel restrictions changed.
“Pre-arrival communication with guests was the key,” Braman said. “Helping them understand and navigate the hoops they would need to jump through along the way helped them feel like it was doable in a safe manner.”
Braman said his hotel is naturally set up to abide by COVID protocols. The Cliff at Princeville has 202 individual condos, each with individual open-air entrances-no elevators, enclosed hallways.
“Each has a full kitchen.,” Braman said. “We offer grocery delivery service. The resort is 22 acres so there is plenty of open space.”
Braman said a lot of people have worked very hard to make this reopening possible. He said it’s doable in a safe manner if he and his team stay vigilant.
“We have had about 800 guests go through the bubble program without incident,” Braman said. “No one left the property and no one turned positive on the second test. I hope that most of our guests with take the incentivized second test with the new program on April 5th. We have arranged for guests of the Cliffs to take it at the Makana Clinic here in Princeville.”
Both Braman and Machorek said their hotels and condos are not at full capacity and welcome Kaua‘i residents with kama‘aina discounts that can be found on their websites or over the phone.
This story has been edited on Mar. 23 at 11:15 a.m. for accuracy.
Stephanie Shinno, education, business and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.