More hotels announce reopening plans as pre-travel testing program start nears

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — As the pre-travel testing start date of Oct. 15 nears, more hotels are announcing reopening plans.

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Some of the bigger hotels are announcing reopenings in the later part of the year. Those in the hotel industry say that it is about the time they expect some tourism to ramp up.

“You can’t open a hotel if you don’t have any guests booked, and so what many of our hotels are trying to do is to ready themselves for what is typically a very busy holiday season,” said Kekoa McClellan with the American Hotel and Lodging Association – Hawaii.

Both Prince Waikiki and Disney’s Aulani Resort announced plans to reopen in November.

“With the state’s recent announcement of a travel pre-test program, our industry is finalizing plans to responsibly share aloha with visitors and bring back thousands of employees so they can support their ‘Ohana. As we work toward a November 1 reopening at Aulani Resort, we are using a measured approach that focuses on the health and safety of our guests, cast members and community.”

Elliot Mills, Vice President, Hotel Operations, Disneyland Resort and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Hilton Hawaiian Village is also taking reservations on its website from Dec. 15.

With hotels opening up, this means employees can get back to work, but they probably won’t all return at once.

“We want nothing more than to get as many of our family members back to work, as soon as possible … what that means is as soon as there is demand for our product and as soon as safety protocols are tested in place,” said McClellan.

McClellan said many hotels have been waiting for a travel plan by the state to go into effect. Otherwise, many hotels would be facing major financial losses.

“It’s more expensive to open the hotel and operate at 20 percent occupancy for many brands that it would be to stay closed and not reopen,” said McClellan.

Mufi Hannemann, who is the President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said for this reason other hotels won’t be quick to reopen.

“For some, it would be a wait and see approach,” said Hannemann. “I think a lot is going to depend on how well the pre-testing program is executed.”

He said many of the hotels that do plan to open up this year won’t see big numbers, but the hope is that they can slowly build back.

“It’s not going to be 10 million-plus we’re not on that kind of path anymore. It’s going to be a much smaller scale,” said Hannemann. “We won’t actually know until we have a start date. We won’t actually know until we start opening up the business. So the sooner we can get it done and started, the better off we’re going to be.”

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