Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: July 2, 2001

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE is exploring charter agreements with airlines serving Hawaii to ensure the line will have sufficient airlift when the Norwegian Sky begins operations in Hawaii this fall. NCL has been assured that there are enough seats on regularly scheduled flights to accommodate its passengers, said Robert Kirtzman, NCL's executive vp, but the company is "continuing to explore" charter agreements. NCL already uses some charter flights but also buys blocks of seats on American Airlines flights to Hawaii.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES said it will begin operating one daily roundtrip flight between Seattle and Maui in February. The service will be operated on one of seven new 767-300 aircraft the airline plans to lease. On June 15, Hawaiian started San Diego-Honolulu service using a DC-10.

THE HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY awarded grants totaling $1.2 million to 51 Hawaii organizations that will promote tourism to the state through July 2002. Groups offering cultural tourism events and programs received the most money ($800,000), followed by educational tourism, agricultural tourism, sports events and ecotourism. One example of a cultural event that received funding is the Coconut Festival, held in October on Kauai. It focuses "on the historical, economic, romantic and utilitarian benefits the coconut has provided mankind," according to the HTA. The festival received $20,000.

OUTRIGGER will put its lower-priced Ohana brand on the Keauhou Beach Resort, effective Aug. 1. The property, on the Big Island just south of Kailua Kona, currently is under the Aston name. Outrigger previously announced it was taking over management of another Aston property in the Kona area, the Aston Royal Sea Cliff, on July 1. The Keauhou property will be renamed the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort while the Aston Royal Sea Cliff will be renamed the Outrigger Royal Sea Cliff Resort.

CHEAP TICKETS, based in Honolulu, warned investors its second-quarter earnings will be below expectations. The discount retailer said profits for the quarter will be between $1.1 million and $1.3 million, down from a previous estimate of $4.9 million to $5.8 million. Cheap Tickets blamed Sabre, which handles the technology for its Web site ticket sales, for "excessive booking-engine errors [that] prevented a significant number of competitive non-published fares from being displayed to customers." Additionally, Cheap Tickets said its call centers were unable to answer many customer calls due to "a higher-than-expected staff attrition in May."

PASSPORT RESORTS of San Francisco is buying the Hotel Hana Maui and has plans to renovate rooms, upgrade food service and add a spa. The sale of the luxury property, tucked away in a remote corner of Maui, is expected to close Aug. 15, according to Peter Heinemann, managing partner of Passport Resorts. Passport is buying the resort from Meridian Financial Resources, which acquired the property in 1999. Heinemann said he plans to continue the resort's affiliation with Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

HOTELS AND CONDOS in Hawaii posted an average occupancy rate of 77% during the first five months of the year and an average room rate of $163 a night, according to a survey of 142 properties by PKF-Hawaii. Molokai had the lowest occupancy rate, at 56%, while Maui had the highest, at 79%. Maui also had the highest average room rate, at $215 a night, while Molokai was the lowest, with an average rate of $92 a night.

A GROUP OF HAWAII SUPPLIERS in the Midwest, called Midwest Ohana, is hosting its third Aloha Summer Fest trade show for travel agents Aug. 1 at the Sheraton Arlington Park Hotel in Arlington Heights, Ill. Vendors will include airlines, hotels, attractions and island visitor bureaus. For more information, call (888) 642-6295.

THE RENAISSANCE Wailea Beach Resort on Maui is upgrading its 345 guest rooms and has added a business center. Rooms at the resort are receiving new carpet, bedding and patio furniture. The Aloha Business Center, in the lobby, is open daily and provides computers, e-mail and Internet access, copy and fax machines, packaging and shipping services, and video conferencing. The center is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

THE HILTON WAIKOLOA VILLAGE, on the Kona coast of the Big Island, is offering travel agents a $99 room rate from Sept. 16 through Dec. 7. To make a booking, agents must call the hotel at (808) 886-1234.

POKE, ANYONE? The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel Sam Choy Poke Festival is set for Sept. 14 to 16 at the Hapuna Beach Hotel on the Big Island. The main event of the festival is a poke recipe contest Sept. 15. Poke is raw or cooked seafood flavored with salt, seaweed, soy sauce and vinegar. Visitors will be able to sample poke from 80 recipe entrants.

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