Hotels close doors: Majority of Kona, Kohala properties shutter, furlough staff due to COVID-19

  • A sign on King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel announces its closure on Friday. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is closed on Friday.

  • King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is closed on Friday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • The Kona Seaside Hotel, closed since Thursday is barricaded. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is closed on Friday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

A majority of hotels from South Kona to South Kohala will be closed as of today because of the novel coronavirus.

The Royal Kona Resort, Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel, King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, Kona Seaside, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Mauna Lani Hotel and Bungalows, Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, and Mauna Kea Beach Hotel have each closed temporarily their doors and furloughed employees.

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The nearly 103-year-old Manago Hotel in Captain Cook remains open, but is not accepting any new reservations.

The Fairmont Orchid did not respond to inquiries as of press time Friday, though on social media the hotelier indicated it had provided 1,580 masks to hospitals, clinic and medical professionals on Hawaii Island.

Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, Hilton Waikoloa Village and Kona Tiki Hotel remain open, management said.

Those 15 hotels make up 5,137 rooms on the west side of the island.

On Friday, team members from King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel donated more than 2,000 pounds of food including fresh papayas and eggs to the The Food Basket, the island’s food bank. The hotel also answered an urgent call for assistance from the West Hawaii Community Health Center by providing cases of toilet paper and facial tissue.

“Aloha is at the heart of the hospitality industry and we are proud to do our part to help some of the most vulnerable members of our community get access to basic items like fresh food and toiletries,” said hotel general manager Scott Pauli. “It is more important than ever to care for and support one another – it’s been inspiring to see our community work together as we all navigate through this uncertain time.”

The hotel closures come after a robust February where hotels statewide reported growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR), average daily rates (ADR) and occupancy compared to February 2019, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Hotels on Hawaii Island earned RevPAR of $261 (+12.6%) in February, with increases in both occupancy (84.4 percent, +2.8 percentage points) and ADR ($309, +8.8%). Properties on the Kohala Coast reported increases in RevPAR, ADR, and occupancy in February.

Occupancy figures for March, which will show the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, will not be released until mid- to late-April.

On Thursday, only 109 passengers arrived at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Just 18 of the arrivals were visitors with 52 crew members and 39 returning residents making up the balance.

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Statewide, 1,589 passengers arrived in Hawaii on the first day of the state’s 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for all incoming passengers. Of that number, 268 people were visitors, and most of them were either crew members or returning residents.

In comparison, last year at the end of March, more than 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

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