Sunday, September 16, 2001

Softening the blow
of being stranded

Visitors stranded in Hawaii may joke about how awful it is to be stuck in paradise; but most of the visitor industry has been taking seriously the task of caring for Hawaii's bread and butter.

Not all hotels offered discounted rates to visitors unable to return home, however.

Upon learning that, Marc Resorts officials distributed a memo to hotel managers statewide authorizing them to "comp a room night" (provide free lodging) or offer deep discounts to visitors in need.

The company also waived charges for local phone calls as well as fees normally assessed to access toll-free numbers.

CEO Matthew Delaney said no number-crunching was done to calculate possible revenue losses before the decision was made.

"We're a small enough company that for something like this we don't need to sit around and have a committee decision," he said.

"I can't comprehend if I was stranded here, couldn't get home, and maybe something was happening personally with family, friends or colleagues."

"You know, the $300 we might get for that room, that's not going to make or break the company -- at the end of the month, the end of the year, it doesn't mean anything. You can't put a price on what people are going through.

Bidding sweet aloha

Visitors finally allowed their international departures Thursday were bid aloha with sweets from DFS Hawaii vendors, in a partnership with the state Department of Transportation.

DFS Hawaii Group Vice President Sharon Weiner said the thought came about during a conversation with the DOT about how the company might help.

"We told the vendors, the people who sell us products, and many came forward and offered cookies," Weiner said. Hawaiian Host Chocolates Inc., Hawaiian King Candies and Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp. all helped.

Hawaii Coffee Co. also donated product, to be brewed and served to departing visitors, but the logistics were still being worked out, Weiner said.

Way to spend a day

Attorney Paul Alston, partner in Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, had no intention for his e-mail to reach the hands of a reporter. After some persuading he was convinced to reveal that his electronic appeal to "40 or 50 law firms," was receiving positive response.

Alston suggested that recipients donate a day's pay to American Red Cross disaster relief efforts, and that partners have firms match the donations.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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