Largest Hawaii resort partially reopens after virus closure

HONOLULU — The partial reopening of Hawaii’s largest hotel property is expected give work back to 250 to 300 employees after it shut down in April because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort reopened one of its hotel towers on Tuesday and many of its restaurants also resumed operations. A second tower is scheduled to open on Friday.

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The partial restart will open up about 1,100 rooms and provide jobs for some of the almost 2,000 employees who worked at the complex before it closed on April 13, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

“It’s going to be a slow start, and we’ll build from there,” Hilton Hawaiian Village Managing Director Debi Bishop said. “We’ll bring more people back to work as occupancy levels improve. At this point we don’t know how quickly it will come back. But you have to start somewhere, and we want to be open so we can bring back our team members and our guests.”

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A study funded by the Hawaii Tourism Authority estimated that by the end of 2021, statewide hotel occupancy will reach only about 46%. That figure is less than the 50% to 60% occupancy the agency said the tourism industry needs to cover costs.

“It will be a five-plus-year recovery from the losses of this year,” said Alison Hoyt, the senior director of consulting and analytics for STR, which conducted the state study.

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