Hotels scrambleHotels across the islands were able to accommodate thousands of guests stranded by closed airports yesterday as well as unplanned arrivals from flights diverted to the islands.
to make room for
Officials say everyone was
accommodated, with some
rooms left over
By Alan Vaughn
About 1,500 people arrived yesterday on unscheduled flights to the islands, in addition to about 2,500 who were expected, said Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel Association. There was no tabulation on how many people had flights to leave the islands but were unable to depart, or how many were scheduled to arrive but did not.
The Hawaii Hotel Association, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Hawaii Tourism Authority were coordinating communication between airlines and hotels to place those without rooms.
"Everybody has been accommodated," Towill said yesterday afternoon. "And last I heard an hour ago, there were still rooms available."
Hotels and the tourism agencies spent much of yesterday morning counting available rooms and making an inventory list to direct stranded visitors to hotels that had open rooms.
Two Honolulu-bound Japan Airlines planes were diverted to Kona International Airport yesterday, with a total of 402 passengers and 34 crew members. They were accommodated at the Ohana Keahou Beach Resort and the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, said Carl Hayashi, station manager for Japan Airlines.
"We had to kind of scramble around and figure out which hotels were available," Hayashi said. "Everybody is situated and they're OK."
The airline wanted to house passengers from each flight at the same hotel.
Keahou Beach Resort arranged for 53 rooms, said Nancy Daniels, a spokeswoman for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, which operates the hotel. The guests received basic room and meal combinations, Daniels said.
Outrigger, like other hotel chains in the islands, discounted rates and waived some fees for guests who were unable to leave the islands, as well as for those from diverted flights. Many hotels waived cancellation and early departure fees, as well as long distance telephone surcharges.
Hilton hotels put up 250 rooms at a discount rate, including cleaning up some under renovation to increase inventory.
"We're accommodating just as many as we can," said Kim Sheree, director of public relations. "Everybody who was in house, we told them just stay in their rooms."
On Maui, a Red Cross shelter was opened at War Memorial Gym in Wailuki, but most guests remained at their hotels, said Eloise Bal, executive assistant to the director of the Maui Visitors Bureau.
"Most of our visitors have extended their stays at their individual (hotel) properties," Bal said.
Most visitors scheduled for flights out of Hawaii yesterday were told of the airport closure before leaving their hotels, and so did not need to seek new rooms.
Hotel guests were being advised to relax and not attempt to get to the airport, said Jim Austin, director of public relations for Outrigger. "I think most people are in their rooms glued to their TV sets," he said.