Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: October 14, 2002

HOTEL OCCUPANCY levels for Hawaii peaked in August, but some industry leaders fear a downhill slide for the rest of the year in light of the struggling economy and unstable international conditions. "I think the concern is that some people are feeling that August may be the high water mark for the year," said Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel Assn. Average statewide occupancy reached 78% in August, just short of previous-year levels of 78.1%, according to a survey of 160 properties conducted by Hospitality Advisors in conjunction with Smith Travel Research. Average statewide daily room rates fell to $149.73 in August, from $152.03 a year ago.

AS A RESULT of a decline in airport revenue, state officials may close or privatize five small airports in the next year, according to a review prompted by an Oct. 1 letter from Gov. Ben Cayetano to state legislators. Although closure is not a certainty, the possibility emphasizes the state's inability to support infrastructures where tourist traffic is comparatively light. Among the airports included are Dillingham on Oahu, where three skydiving companies operate; Port Allen on Kauai; Upolu and Waimea-Kohala on the Big Island; and Kapalua on West Maui, the gateway to the affluent and increasingly popular hotels and condominiums along the Kaanapali Coast.

AMERICA WEST VACATIONS is back in the Hawaii market, this time partnering with Hawaiian Airlines. The operator will offer 60 hotels and resorts on all islands, in all price ranges, plus land-only and fly-drive packages featuring Avis car rentals, according to Jack Richards, president and CEO of America West Vacations. The firm had discontinued its Hawaii program when America West Airlines stopped flying to Hawaii in 1992. For information, call (800) 356-6611 or visit www.awvtravelagents.com.

ORGANIZERS OF THE ASTA congress still are expecting 2,500 to 3,000 delegates, according to Brigid McDonnell, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau's director for North America travel trade marketing. Ten seminars are geared strictly for Hawaii, with each island chapter presenting its own. Other topics include honeymoon/wedding, health and wellness, and regional cuisine.

THE HOTEL HANA-MAUI completed a $5.5 million restoration of its Sea Ranch cottages, its main dining room, bar and lobby as part of a $10 million multiphase renovation project. In addition, a $2.5 million spa is set to open next fall. The Hotel Hana-Maui is a member of Small Luxury Resorts and is the only property in the Hawaiian islands to have earned such a designation. For additional details, call (808) 248-8211 or visit www.hotelhanamaui.com.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS will consolidate all its phone numbers to one as of Oct. 27. The number for all Pleasant products will be (800) 448-3333. Callers will be channeled to the appropriate line through a voice-mail system.

DAVID LEVINE, chairman and CEO of ResortQuest Int'l, parent company of Aston Hotels and Resorts, resigned recently. Taking his duties as the new CEO will be Jim Olin, who was president and COO. Meanwhile, Joseph Vittoria was named chairman.

DON'T BE BLUE, HAWAII. Elvis (or at least a reasonable facsimile) soon will make his triumphant return to the islands. The Legends in Concert show at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center will pick up where it left off in 1999 when its then-owner filed for bankruptcy protection. The plan is to refurbish the 800-seat Aloha Showroom for daily dinner and cocktail shows. In addition to Elvis, about a dozen performers will impersonate celebrities ranging from Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin to the Blues Brothers and Celine Dion. No timeline has been set for Legends' relaunch.

THAT'S WHY WE SAID 'PENCIL'... Last week's Hawaii E-Letter listed incorrect dates for the Nissan Xterra World Championship at the Outrigger Wailea Resort. The event will be held Oct. 23 to 27.

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