Hawaii Briefs: Hainan Airlines seeking approval for Honolulu charter

Hainan Airlines, owned by Grand China Air Ltd., has applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a one-time charter flight from Honolulu to Haikou, China, between Oct. 19 and 21, said a Hainan executive.

The flight, which would carry no more than 90 passengers, would be Hawaii's first direct charter flight between Honolulu and Haikou.

The request comes after a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and China in June allowing Chinese leisure travelers to travel to the U.S. on group leisure tours.

The Grand China Air LPGA, the first LPGA event in China, is scheduled at the Hainan West Coast Golf Club in Haikou Oct. 24 to 26.

Aqua offers employee stock program

Aqua Hotels & Resorts has finalized details of an employee stock ownership plan that makes Aqua the first employee-owned hotel company in Hawaii.

This makes it possible for Aqua's 500 employees to become co-owners of the 12-hotel, Waikiki-based company.

According to Aqua executives, the owners will share 30% of the company with its employees, who all are eligible after a fixed vesting period.

The value of the initial percentage share of the company is just over $8 million.

At a later time, the company plans to allocate more ownership of Aqua to its employees, an Aqua official said.

There is no cost to employees for participation.

Booking incentives at Grand Wailea

Maui's Grand Wailea Resort has announced an incentive program for travel agents that will give them $100 for new bookings at Hoolei at Grand Wailea and $50 for new bookings at Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa.

To be eligible, the travel agency must be IATA/CLIA approved. The program is applicable to wholesale account bookings. The offer is good through Dec. 31, 2009.

For more information, call reservations at (800) 888-6100.

Superferry discounting fares

Hawaii Superferry has lowered adult fares to $49 for one-way travel through Oct. 31.
One-way fares for seniors age 62 and older, children ages 2 to 12 and retired and active military personnel and their dependents are $39 during this period.

The fares are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as well as on certain Friday and Sunday voyages.

Passengers who purchase an adult fare 14 days before sailing will receive an advance purchase discount of $5.

For more information, go to www.hawaiisuperferry.com.

Princeville to get St. Regis rebranding

Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Princeville Resort closes this month for major renovations as it becomes part of just 13 hotels worldwide under the St. Regis brand.

The resort could reopen as early as mid-2009.

Renovations include upgrading restaurants, retail spaces, rooms, landscaping and pools.

Butler services will be added as will additional staff in several departments, including the spa.

All staff will undergo brand cultural training; some management will spend time at other St. Regis hotels before the reopening.

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