Escape rooms have been gaining in popularity and popping up around the world, and a Kona woman has brought the experience to West Hawaii.
Teresa Navarro did her first escape room in Maui a year ago and was hooked. She went to more rooms across the state and the mainland and after a September trip to Las Vegas decided to bring one to Kona.
On Dec. 21, she opened 808 Escape in Sunset Plaza.
“Yes, it’s Kona’s first escape room,” she said. “Parents, bring your kids in to play an interactive game that gets them off of their phone and forces them to work together, communicate and engage, at least for an hour.”
Escape rooms are adventure games in which people are locked in a heavily themed room with other participants and have to use the elements of the room to follow clues, solve puzzles, crack codes and escape the room in 60 minutes, according to Navarro.
“It’s great family fun, date night, corporate team building, office parties, etc.,” she said
The theme at 808 Escape is a Las Vegas hotel room the morning after a wild bachelor party, modeled after the 2009 movie “The Hangover.”
She decided on the theme because of her love of Vegas and her years working in hotels.
Navarro watches participants in a separate room via three surveillance cameras and feeds them up to three free clues through a monitor.
“I monitor them and if they get really stuck, I send them a clue just to keep them moving.” said Navarro.
In addition to the escape room, Navarro is setting up a 3D art room with help from artist Pedro Sabori.
“I stumbled across this 3D trick art in Vegas and I was so intrigued, I was like we got to bring it to Kona,” she said.
“We have the first 3D trick eye mini museum of interactive art, and it’s all Hawaiian-themed. It’s a selfie kinda world now and here you can take a selfie with a Menehune, Kamehameha, Maui, poi, ride a wave and more,” said Navarro.
The art room will also be available for parties and meetings.
Currently, most of her clientele are visitors to the island who are familiar with escape rooms, but she hopes to change that and get locals excited about the challenge.
There are now close to 14,000 escape rooms worldwide. You can play an escape room in such far-flung places as England, Thailand, the Middle East and Russia.
The first documented escape room was created by a Japanese company called SCRAP in 2007. Players were ushered into a themed room where in order to escape, they had to solve a series of puzzles and riddles in a set period of time. Before long, escape rooms became popular, permanent fixtures in Japan and spread to China and the rest of Asia.
Throughout the next five years, more and more escape rooms opened in Europe, Russia and Asia. Escape rooms were introduced in the U.S. in 2012.
808 Escape can accommodate groups from two to six people. Reservations can be made online at www.808escaperoom.com.
Navarro is holding a meet the artist and grand opening celebration 5-8 p.m. Feb. 7 at 77-6425 Kuakini Highway, Suite C-104, mauka of the Seaview Circle intersection.
“People can just come and enjoy something different in Kona,” she said.