Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: September 16, 2002

A WAIKIKI HOTEL STRIKE was averted as talks between Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union and five Waikiki hotels concluded with a tentative agreement reached. Ratification of the proposed deal was expected last Friday when 4,000 affected union members were scheduled to vote on the contract, said a union spokesman. The hotels involved were the Hilton Hawaiian Village and four Waikiki properties operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts: the Sheraton Waikiki, Princess Kaiulani, Sheraton Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian.

MEANWHILE, the Hilton Hawaiian Village will throw out furnishings, carpeting and wall coverings in all 453 rooms of its year-old, 25-story Kalia Tower in Waikiki because of mold contamination. The removal of all soft and hard goods will begin in the next week and take about six to eight weeks to complete. Hilton has not set a reopening date for the tower, which was closed when the mold problem came to light in July. The cost of the project was included in the $10 million charge against earnings taken by Hilton Hotels Corp. in the second quarter 2002. "While it would be nice to salvage some of these goods and perhaps find other uses for them, proper disposal is the sensible and responsible action to take," said Peter Schall, managing director of the hotel.

ALOHA AND HAWAIIAN airlines last week defended their request to the Transportation Dept. for antitrust immunity through Oct. 1, 2003, on interisland routes, arguing the Justice Dept.'s opposition is based on applying an incorrect legal standard on incorrect "facts." For example, they said, the DOJ asserted interisland traffic has rebounded since Sept. 11. But, the carriers said, the traffic remains below pre-Sept. 11 levels, with actual load factors running more than 10% below the load factor needed to break even. Also, the carriers said the agreement would help consumers because it would enhance the long-term viability of a two-carrier interisland system.

IN OTHER NEWS from Aloha, the carrier will start twice weekly flights between Honolulu and Rarotonga, Cook Islands, Dec. 9. The six-hour flight will be operated with two-class, 124-passenger Boeing 737-700 aircraft. The flights are scheduled twice a week until April and once a week from May through September. It is not the first international destination for Aloha: the carrier also flies to the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Kiribati.

THE KEAUHOU RESORT area in the Big Island town of Keauhou will host "Bounty of Keauhou" Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, the first of what the destination hopes will be an annual event showcasing the area's cuisine, culture, sports, music and dance.

THE BOUNTY OF KEAUHOU will be part of the Big Island Festival during the same period this fall. That festival features more than 100 events throughout the island. At the Keauhou Resort area, events will include a fishing tournament, beach barbecue and a diving championship with participants from more than 20 countries. Two hotels are offering Bounty of Keauhou discount rates during the festival: $99 per night at the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort and 30% off one- and two-bedroom condominiums at the Kanaloa at Kona. More information is available on the festival by calling (808) 324-2504 or at www.keauhou-resort.com.

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