YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

News, Tips & Bargains

Rattled, but Hawaii's rolling on

The recent quake caused some damage to tourist sites. But hotels, restaurants, shops and airports are open for business.

October 22, 2006|Beverly Beyette | Times Staff Writer

THE aloha mat is out for visitors to the Hawaiian Islands, a week after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

As of the Travel section's deadline Tuesday, damage was estimated at about $46 million. No fatalities had been reported, damage to hotels and resorts was minimal, all airports were operating, and major roads were open.

"Other than the island of Hawaii, it's pretty much business as usual," said Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Assn. "Everyone's operating without impact."

A daylong power outage on Oahu after the 7:07 a.m. quake last Sunday disabled automated baggage and agricultural inspection systems at Honolulu International Airport, causing snarls and delays, and some airlines canceled flights to and from the islands. But by Monday things had pretty much returned to normal.

Three of the four major tourist destinations -- the islands of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii -- suffered blackouts. Little Lanai, which has only three hotels, was least affected. An update as of the Travel section deadline Tuesday:

The Big Island: The Kohala coast, on the western side of the island, was hardest hit. But "everybody is open for business. People are out playing golf," Sharon Sakai, of the Kohala Coast Resort Assn., said Monday.

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, at the northern end of the coast, had some structural damage. Guests were briefly evacuated Sunday, said spokeswoman Cathey Tarleton. The hotel and its sister property down the coast, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, which suffered some water damage from broken sprinklers, were operating normally Tuesday.

"We're in great shape," Tarleton said. "We're miraculously lucky. I've been in touch with all eight hotels, and we haven't had any looting, any injuries."

As of Tuesday, structural engineers were assessing damage at the Mauna Kea, where eighth-floor rooms and some beach rooms had been evacuated as a precaution. Rooms on other floors had been approved for occupancy.

At Mauna Lani Resort on the Kohala Coast, all amenities -- pool, beach, golf, spa, restaurants -- were fully operational, general manager Kurt Matsumoto said in a statement Monday. The facility had no visible structural damage, he added, but the hotel's top three floors would remain vacant pending inspection by engineers.

As of Tuesday, there was a precautionary detour on state Highway 19 between Hilo and Waimea.

When the quake struck, the Big Island was gearing up to host the annual Ford Ironman World Championship, a grueling marathon of swimming, biking and running that organizers said would take place Saturday as scheduled.

Maui: Maui came through "pretty much unscathed," said Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau. The power was down for a while, and there were some rock slides. But roads are open, and hotels are fully operational.

"We've had a minimal number of cancellations," she said, and "I have no report of any structural damage" to hotels.

At the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui's tourist-popular western shore, Kim Kessler, the new public relations director, had a welcome-to-Hawaii wake-up call Sunday morning. "I arrived Saturday evening" from California, she said, where she was on staff of the Ritz-Carlton Huntington in Pasadena. She took the temblor in stride but said a few guests were a bit rattled. But "we had absolutely no damage and all guests are safe and secure."

The Hotel Hana Maui, on the island's eastern shore, posted in an e-mail Tuesday: "It's a beautiful day here in Hana" and reported that the twisting, turning Hana Highway was open, as was the hotel.

Kauai: "No damage at any hotels. Everything is open and running," said Christy Lagundino of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

Air travel: United Airlines canceled 11 flights to and from Hawaii last Sunday, "due to the varying conditions at the four airports we serve," said spokesman Brandon Borrman. By Monday, he said, schedules were "close to normal," and United had put some larger aircraft in service to accommodate demand for flights both from the islands and the mainland.

The airline issued a waiver that allowed holders of tickets to Hawaii for travel between Oct. 15 and 18 to change flight dates without a fee and offered refunds for canceled flights.

Delta Airlines also issued a temporary waiver allowing ticket holders to avoid change fees. As of Monday, said spokesman Anthony Black, Delta was on a normal schedule and "flights in and out were still full."

Aloha Airlines canceled a few interisland flights Sunday, but its mainland flights -- out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County -- were uninterrupted, said spokesman Stu Glauberman. By Tuesday, he said, there were "no delays of significance." The airline waived ticket-change fees for 72 hours.

Los Angeles Times Articles