Tag: Hawaii

Winter spring fare deals, Hawaii, COVID passports + more travel news

In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…

With airlines desperate for cash, this year’s round of Cyber Monday fare deals, good through Thursday, are definitely worth a look, even if you are uneasy about traveling in the current pandemic-plagued environment. Why? Because deals like this won’t be around once a vaccination rolls out, quarantine restrictions dissolve, travelers release pent up demand and fares increase. Read: Fare deals flourish for winter trips to LA, Hawaii, NYC

Joshua Colby Council, 44, was boarding Delta flight 1362 to San Francisco from SLC at about 11 p.m. when he disregarded the gate agent’s order to put on a mask before he got on the aircraft, police said. Salt Lake County sheriff’s records identify him as a resident of San Francisco. Once he took his seat, other crew members, including the captain as well and a Delta manager, insisted that he wear a mask, which he consistently refused to do “for unknown reasons,” according to the police booking report. Read: San Francisco man arrested for refusing to wear a mask on Delta flight

In this week’s route news roundup, Kauai opts out of Hawaii’s pre-testing program, San Francisco International has a new “touchless” option for its parking garages, and also introduces COVID testing for Cathay Pacific; Hawaiian Airlines adds more mainland testing sites; CDC has new testing guidelines for international travel and warns against trips to Mexico; Delta finds a way around Italy’s mandatory quarantine; Air India will add a new San Francisco route; Alaska Airlines bets on the 737 Max for fleet renewal; JetBlue will still fly to London but not to Heathrow; the Delta/WestJet joint venture is scrapped; American Express reopens its Phoenix Centurion Lounge; and United gets some new gates at Denver International. Read: Routes: Kauai shuts down, New route to India, COVID updates, Mexico warning, more

As more governments turn to mandatory COVID-19 testing for travelers in place of mandatory 14-day quarantines after arrival, the world’s airlines are developing a digital health passport that will collect and standardize coronavirus-related passenger data for border crossings and could jump-start international travel once it is widely used. Eventually, the current proof of negative test results prior to travel could be supplanted by proof of vaccination. Read: Airlines’ new ‘health passport’ could revive international travel

Last week, on-airport COVID-19 facilities at both Oakland and San Francisco International Airports were sold out. There were no advance reservation slots until later in December nor was walk-up, day-of-travel testing available for the busiest week for air travel since the pandemic began in March. If you are planning on using the on-airport testing options, be sure to plan ahead and not rely on getting a walk-in appointment. Read: COVID-19 testing at SFO, Oakland airport is sold out

For the first time in more than two centuries, the people were gone. Hanauma Bay, a stunning body of water that formed within a volcanic crater, is approximately 15 minutes from Waikiki. Its natural glory makes it one of Hawaii’s top tourist

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Mayor Caldwell signs vacation rental agreement with Expedia, Airbnb – Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather

“We know there are bad actors out there, and this will help us crack down on them. While this is not a panacea, it’s a step forward,” said Mayor Caldwell. “For our residents who depend on this income, we want to provide an avenue for people to list their rentals in a legal, and transparent manner. This collaboration will also provide a step forward for effective enforcement of illegal vacation rentals, and ensures that our neighborhoods remain neighborhoods for local families.”

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Vacation Rental in Hawaii with Airbnb, Expedia Group

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell today signed two memoranda of understanding (MOU) between the City and County of Honolulu and short-term vacation rental platforms Airbnb and Expedia Group, parent company to vacation rental website Vrbo. The MOU is designed to help Honolulu officials effectively track and regulate vacation rentals, ensuring the community can receive the full tax and tourism benefits vacation rentals provide, while controlling the spread of illegal vacation rentals. These new memoranda of understanding help facilitate effective enforcement of vacation rental laws, allowing responsible vacation rental operators to advertise with online travel platforms.

“We know there are bad actors out there, and this will help us crack down on them. While this is not a panacea, it’s a step forward,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I also want to thank Airbnb and Expedia for stepping up to the table and help to provide solutions for legal short-term rentals on O‘ahu. For our residents who depend on this income, we want to provide an avenue for people to list their rentals in a legal, and transparent manner. This collaboration will also provide a step forward for effective enforcement of illegal vacation rentals, and ensures that our neighborhoods remain neighborhoods for local families.”

This agreement will help the City and County of Honolulu enforce vacation rental laws, reducing the number of illegal rental operations. It will allow responsible vacation rental operators to advertise their homes on online travel platforms, while requiring platforms to regularly provide the City and County with information on its vacation rentals, and in turn the City and County of Honolulu will be able to request a permanent delisting of illegal vacation rentals.

The two participating short term rental platforms have agreed to provide the City and County of Honolulu with detailed information sufficient to accurately identify the vacation rental unit and identify if it is permitted under the law of the City and County of Honolulu.

“This pandemic has highlighted just how important it is that cities, communities and industry work together on effective, long-term solutions,” said Amanda Pedigo, vice president of government affairs at Expedia Group. “Today’s agreement will help responsible vacation rental owners and managers stay in compliance with local laws and provide the City and County with insight into the local vacation rental market. Expedia Group thanks Mayor Caldwell and his team for their collaboration and leadership. We are thrilled to be part of an agreement that will benefit the people of Honolulu as the City and County work towards economic recovery.”

“As the City works to build back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, short-term rentals will continue to be a vital source of supplemental income for local residents and revenue to support the local visitor industry,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb Regional Policy Lead. “We are grateful to Mayor Caldwell and his team for working with us on an agreement that preserves the benefits of short-term rentals for residents and the local economy, while providing the City the tools it needs to help enforce

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Hawaii Vacation Rentals Earned More Than Hotels

In October 2020, the total monthly supply of Hawaii vacation rentals was 373,600 unit nights (-57.0%) and monthly demand was 85,000 unit nights (-86.4%), resulting in an average monthly unit occupancy of 22.7 percent (-49.1 percentage points).

In comparison, Hawaii’s hotels had an average occupancy rate of 19.7 percent in October 2020. It is important to note that unlike hotels, condominium hotels, timeshare resorts, and vacation rental units are not necessarily available year-round or each day of the month and often accommodate a larger number of guests than traditional hotel rooms. The unit average daily rate (ADR) for Hawaii vacation rental units statewide in October was $208, which was higher than the ADR for hotels ($174).

The state’s pre-travel testing program started on October 15, allowing passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling inter-county to bypass the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine with a valid negative COVID-19 NAAT test result from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner. All other trans-Pacific travelers continued to be subject to the 14-day self-quarantine. The counties of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, and Kalawao (Molokai) also had a partial quarantine in place in October.

On Oahu, short-term rentals (rented for less than 30 days) were not allowed to operate at the beginning of October. However, when Oahu moved to Tier 2 of its Reopening Plan on October 22, legal short-term rentals were allowed to reopen. For Maui County, travelers awaiting their pre-travel test results were allowed to stay at a vacation rental as their place of quarantine. On Hawaii Island and Kauai, legal short-term rentals were allowed to operate as long as they were not being used as a quarantine location.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) Tourism Research Division issued the report’s findings utilizing data compiled by Transparent Intelligence, Inc. The data in this report specifically excludes units reported in HTA’s Hawaii Hotel Performance Report and Hawaii Timeshare Quarterly Survey Report. In this report, a vacation rental is defined as the use of a rental house, condominium unit, private room in private home, or shared room/space in private home. This report also does not determine or differentiate between units that are permitted or unpermitted. The “legality” of any given vacation rental unit is determined on a county basis.

Island Highlights

In October, Maui County had the largest vacation rental supply of all four counties with 138,500 available unit nights, which was a decrease of 53.5 percent compared to a year ago. Unit demand was 29,051 unit nights (-87.6%), resulting in 21.0 percent occupancy (-57.6 percentage points) with an ADR of $227 (-36.2%). Maui County hotels were 14.2 percent occupied with an ADR of $226.

Oahu vacation rental supply was 96,500 available unit nights (-59.4%) in October. Unit demand was 26,300 unit nights (-84.6%), resulting in 27.2 percent occupancy (-44.3 percentage points) and an ADR of $173 (-32.7%). Oahu hotels were 22.0 percent occupied with an ADR of $158.

The Island of Hawaii vacation rental supply was 80,000 available unit nights (-61.7%) in October. Unit demand was 17,416 unit nights (-86.7%),

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Maui’s Hotel Wailea Is At The Forefront Of Hawaii Sustainability

While Hawaii was closed to tourism during this COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic also brought with it an ironic twist: The island’s ecosystem was able to recharge, with bays re-teeming with fish, and coral reefs bouncing back. Hotel Wailea, the island’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property, is at the forefront of this rejuvenation, and has recently implemented numerous initiatives designed to lighten its tourism footprint. A warm aloha couldn’t be more obvious!

“COVID was a double-edged sword,” says Christy Stesky, the Director of Marketing at the Hotel Wailea. “Everything closed down, but nature came to life.”  In just her daily walks with her dog,  for example, she told me that she noticed that the color of the ocean water changed, and that the beaches were empty except for the fish and turtles “that came right up to shore. The pandemic brought to life challenges that Hawaii has faced, due to the sheer amount of tourists visiting.”  She says that it’s always been in the Hotel Wailea’s DNA to integrate guest experiences with the health of Hawaii.

In light of this, the Hotel Wailea has currently embraced a forward-thinking , pro-active stance that’s designed to ensure that the hotel offers incredible travel experiences to its well-heeled guests, but still keeps its footprint to a minimum. It is also the state’s only adults-only escape. (For more information about COVID requirements for visiting Hawaii, click here.)

For example, during the quarantine, the Hotel Wailea created its own line of reef-safe sunscreen. From now on travel sizes will be distributed to guests at turndown service, and larger sizes will be available for purchase. “These contain no small particles that would get deposited in the reef,” Ms. Stesky told me.

In addition, the property has also created bath products using honey from on-property bees. “We have 10 hives on property,” Ms. Stesky said. “The honey is used in our cocktails, and also in our bath products. These also use wild ginger that grows on Haleakala. It was important to us to make something high-quality.”

Another advantage the hotel offers is its all-new Surf Safari experience, which only takes two guests at a time, to remote areas of Hawaii. “It’s a four-hour safari,” Ms. Stesky said, “using top-of-the-line surf instructors, and it’s not done in a large group.”

Yet another experience just for two guests is a private canoe experience led by a Hawaiian native. “He gives great insight into the lore and culture.”

Ms. Stesky noted that the Hotel Wailea only has 72 suites, to include 150 guests – on its 16 acres —  so that guests have a lot of space where they can easily social distance. “It’s a very sustainable approach,” she says. The best rooms in the hotel are the 12 Celebration

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Hawaii vacation turns south – Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather

Ben Fox, a teacher of 22 years, says a few hours after arriving his 12 year old son had to use the bathroom badly but it was occupied by his wife, who even though she had received a negative test result for COVID, was suffering from severe stomach problems. 

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Business Trip: Hawaii game far from a vacation for Broncos | National

How different will the trip to Hawaii be for the Boise State football team?

The two Hawaii natives on the team, brothers Kekaula and Kaonohi Kaniho, may not even be able to see their family while in town.

Strict COVID-19 restrictions in Honolulu have forced the Broncos to alter their trip, and that means potentially not even allowing players to see family members in the lobby of the hotel before the game.

“This was the game my family had circled back four years ago when we knew we’d be coming here my senior year and especially when my brother committed it would be both of us playing back home on the same team together,” Kekaula Kaniho said. “It’s going to be a bummer. It was going to basically be the whole island coming to support us.”

Boise State has had to navigate a number of issues stemming from a six-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a pandemic. The Broncos typically would fly on Thursday to have the extra day to get used to the three-hour time difference and the change in weather, but didn’t leave this time until Friday afternoon.

That leaves the Broncos only about 24 hours from touchdown to kickoff, a short turnaround both mentally and physically for a bunch of large human beings crammed into small airplane seats for six hours.

“A lot of times we’d get there and have a practice and get acclimated a little bit and let our bodies recover from the travel and then go do something, maybe on Thursday night or Friday morning do something fun as a team like walk along the beach or let the guys go for a couple hours, but that experience is going to be different now,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We’re going to fly there, get off, go eat, have meetings, and go to bed. We’ll wake up, have meetings, go to our room, have pregame meal and leave to go play the game.”

Boise State’s traveling party has been instructed not to leave the team hotel from the time they arrive on Friday evening until when they board the bus to head for the stadium on Saturday.

“Based off what is happening in Hawaii I think it’s best for us,” Harsin said. “We’re going to be respectful of what they are asking us to do, just basically show up, play the game and leave. That’s really our focus.”

Nobody on Boise State’s roster has played a game at Hawaii and only a handful of players or coaches have ever been there even for vacation.

“Last time I was in Hawaii I was on my honeymoon and that was a long time ago. This is a much different situation,” defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding said. “The quick turnaround kind of is what it is. It’s due to a few things obviously with the situation that we’re in. It’s not like you can land a day early and go do anything.”


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Hawaii offering free hotel stays if visitors volunteer

Say “aloha” to a free night in Hawaii – for a good cause.

Travelers can lend a helping hand and volunteer in the Aloha State to receive a free, extra night at various hotels through a new program, the state tourism board has announced.

Waikiki Beach Honolulu, Hawaii. (iStock).

Waikiki Beach Honolulu, Hawaii. (iStock).

The program, called Mālama Hawai‘i, encourages visitors to “take a trip that gives back.” Tourists can volunteer for projects ranging from tree planting and reforestation to beach cleanups, ocean reef preservation and even making Hawaiian quilts for the elderly.


In exchange, tourists can receive a complimentary extra night at participating hotels across Kauai, Maui, Oahu and the Big Island. The list includes Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea; The Ritz-Carlton Residences at Waikiki Beach; the Fairmont Orchid in the Big Island of Hawaii and the Sheraton Kauai Resort. 

Alaska Airlines is also involved in the “voluntourism” effort, planting one tree for each flight the carrier makes to Hawaii through the end of the year, per a blog post.


The program debuts on the heels of Hawaii recently relaxing its travel restrictions for out-of-state visitors amid the pandemic. Last month, the Aloha State launched its long-awaited pre-travel testing program, allowing travelers to skip a 14-day quarantine requirement if they provide proof of a recent, negative COVID-19 test. Various restrictions apply to the order.

The Associated Press reported that state officials were hopeful the pre-travel testing program could give local tourism a much-needed boost while keeping residents safe; tourism to Hawaii has reportedly plunged over 90% since the pandemic began.


Fox News’ Janine Puhak contributed to this report.

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Where To Travel Now: Hawaii

While daydreaming of the soft sand, warm ocean breezes and inviting waters of Hawaii, you have to do extra planning before making your way to the recently reopened paradise. 

First, adults have to sign up for the state’s Safe Travels online program, which monitors visitors to the islands. Then, within 72 hours before flight departure (if you have connecting flights, the timing has to be 72 hours from the last leg), you have to take a nucleic acid amplification test from a list of approved testing and travel partners. You can choose to skip the pre-flight coronavirus test, but this will require that you quarantine for 14 days. If you’ve taken the first test, after landing at Honolulu International Airport, you will undergo a secondary screening.

When you are ready and safe to travel, you can rest a little easier knowing that Hawaii has a good record thus far in terms of the coronavirus. As of November 14, the state has the lowest rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationally (51.5 cases per 100,000 people) and the second-lowest death rate (0.2 deaths per 100,000 people), according to Hawaii’s Department of Health. Of course, you should consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before any trips and take any necessary precautions.

Forbes Travel Guide offers tips on what to expect on several islands and how to make the most of your much-needed Hawaiian getaway.


Keep your charger handy. As part of the Safe Travels program, you’ll need your cell phone throughout the pre-arrival process to upload information and to share a QR code that proves your negative test results at the airport, with ground transportation and at hotels. In addition, you’ll have to do daily check-ins for two weeks.

The Hawaiian style de jour is not just the aloha shirt — a mask is the required clothing throughout the islands. The state mandates that everyone wears a face covering their nose and mouth in public, and businesses are to refuse entry to anyone without a mask.



Hawaii’s most populated island is ready for visitors. Many of its best attractions, including the USS Arizona, Iolani Palace, Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley, the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Museum of Art, are open.

While hotels like Halekulani and Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina are taking this time to close and renovate (they will reopen in summer 2021 and March 11, 2021, respectively), there are plenty of excellent choices for places to stay. The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach’s soothing suites with kitchens lend themselves to extended stays, and they have been in demand since the hotel reopened. For the first time, its exclusive Sushi Sho is offering takeout. You no longer have to land a hard-to-get reservation at the

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California lawmakers travel to Hawaii despite COVID-19 surge and travel advisory

A nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases and a statewide travel advisory didn’t stop a group of California lawmakers from flying to Hawaii for a four-day conference this week.

The annual policy conference hosted by the Independent Voter Project, a San Diego-based nonprofit group, has fewer people attending this year, but according to Politico, about 100 lawmakers and lobbyists from multiple states still made the trip to Maui.

The Los Angeles Times didn’t name the California legislators in attendance but confirmed about a half dozen are there (although the paper also puts the total number of attendees closer to 50).

The Fairmont Kea Lani, the luxury Wailea resort hosting the summit, told the Sacramento Bee that guests had to show proof of a negative test result before attending.

Dan Howle, the chairman of the Independent Voter Project, told the Bee that attendees are following the rules and wearing masks on the hotel grounds.

“Nobody has been walking around without masks,” he said. “They’re not complaining about it. Of course, they’re in Maui.”

This news comes as California has seen new cases double in the past 10 days and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a travel advisory Friday urging against nonessential travel and recommending quarantines for those who do travel between states and internationally.

Newsom is asking out-of-state travelers to California and residents who leave and then return home to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Hawaii also has strict rules for travelers, requiring either a 14-day quarantine or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.

The Hawaii trip also comes after Newsom drew criticism for attending a birthday party with members outside his household at the French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley.

Newsom said at a Monday press conference attending the party was a mistake and more people were at the event than he expected.

“I need to preach and practice,” he said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes. I shouldn’t have been there. I should have turned back around. You got to pay the price. You have to own it. This isn’t a practice I’ve indulged in in the past.”

The Independent Voter Project wasn’t immediately available for comment. SFGATE will update the story if we hear back.

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