Hawaii’s Reopening May Be Good for Tourism. Is it Good for Locals?


Mr. McMillan added that he believes that “in some markets, especially for international travel, until a vaccine is more widely available, testing will become part of the norm.”

For Jonathan McManus, the owner of Hotel Wailea Relais & Chateaux in Maui, testing presents a way to reopen safely after months of carrying an empty property. He says it will let him keep employees in jobs.

“What the data suggests so far is that here in Hawaii, testing has been the key to safely reopening,” he said. “We now understand the data and the importance of testing. Testing provides a high level of protection for visitors, staff and residents.”

The hotel used to have an in-person welcoming process that included staff members putting leis on guests as they arrived and checking them in with a cocktail in hand. Now, a key is waiting for guests when they arrive, and capacity is capped at 60 percent. Each of the hotel’s 72 suites has its own heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Gary Moore, managing director at Timbers Kauai at Hokuala, said that the reopening has been “anything but clear,” but what is clear is: “We have to find a way to live with the disease.” Mr. Moore said that despite various challenges, the lessons learned at his property about distancing people, mask enforcement, temperature checking and even separating guests and putting them in “bubbles,” could be applied at other resorts.

“The resort bubble would let guests leave their rooms and enjoy on-site amenities while completing the mandatory quarantine while wearing GPS-monitored bracelets,” he said, noting that should Hawaii reinstate the mandatory quarantine for all travelers, these bubbles would make it possible for the resort to remain operational for inter-island travel and for locals.

The staff at Timbers is made up of locals and their safety is essential, Mr. Moore said.

“Our employees go home, many have large families and they are with parents and grandparents and children, and keeping them safe is essential to everyone’s well-being,” he said.



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