THE HAWAII GOVERNMENT'S proposal to buy the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore has moved out of committee to the full Senate for a vote expected to come this week. The Hawaii Senate's Ways and Means Committee approved the measure yesterday despite the expressed concerns of some legislators over the cost and the prospect that the state could end up operating the hotel and golf course. The bill, which would enable the state to purchase the 850-acre Turtle Bay Resort property, did not include the money needed to purchase the property. "This puts all the options on the table, and now the parties can negotiate," said Sen. Robert Bunda, a Democrat who represents the North Shore. Bunda, who backs the proposal, said a final decision likely would not come until the end of the Hawaii Legislature's session in April.
THE TURTLE BAY proposal has the strong support of Gov. Linda Lingle and 15 North Shore community groups. In her state-of-the-state address last month, Lingle introduced the idea of purchasing the Turtle Bay property in collaboration with private, public and nonprofit partners to protect five miles of mostly pristine coastline and other tracts from development. If developed as planned, the property that now houses one 443-room hotel would get five additional hotels, five resort condominium sites, a shopping village, an equestrian center, a clubhouse and a beach club.
THE STATE has changed its prognostication for visitor arrivals in 2008; Hawaii is now forecasting a slight decline instead of a slight increase. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) said visitor arrivals, which include those who come by air and cruise ship, are expected to decline 1.4% in 2008. Previously, the state forecasted that arrivals would increase 1%, reversing the nearly 1% decline in 2007. Visitor expenditures also were revised downward, by 2.5 percentage points. DBEDT said spending would not reach the $13.2 billion it had originally forecasted; that figure was adjusted to $12.7 billion, an increase of 1.5% over 2007. The projected decline of 107,000 visitors is due to "continued sluggishness in air travel coupled with the departure of two domestic cruise ships from Hawaii's market," according to the DBEDT. NCL America's Pride of Hawaii was redeployed to Europe, and the Pride of Aloha will leave for Asia in May, leaving the Pride of America the sole NCL ship sailing Hawaii waters year-round.
THE PRINCEVILLE RESORT on Kauai, a Starwood hotel, will close on Sept. 19 for a planned multimillion-dollar renovation, and will reopen as the St. Regis Resort, Princeville on April 19, 2009. Kelly Hoen, general manager of the hotel, said economic conditions prompted the decision to close the resort rather than remain open during renovations. The rebranded hotel will be the first in Hawaii to carry the St. Regis name.
GENOA LEILANI KEAWE, a singer known affectionately as Aunty Genoa, died on Feb. 25 in Honolulu at the age of 89. Keawe, whose signature falsetto won her the title of the Hawaiian Lady of Song, held a prominent place on Hawaii's music scene since she began her career in the Islands almost 70 years ago. She was a regular weekly entertainer at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa for more than a decade and performed there just three weeks before her death. Keawe was known throughout the world, having performed across Asia and in Canada, Brazil, Russia, Switzerland and many U.S. mainland cities.
Hawaii Editor: Allan Seiden
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