Hawaii Resort Bubbles Approved | The Worst Idea Ever?

Hawaii Resort Bubbles APPROVED | The Worst Idea Ever?

While Hawaii’s governor earlier this week delayed the state’s planned reopening without quarantine until at least October 1, he, together with two counties, is pursuing a controversial “resort bubble idea” for travelers. The governor has issued a proclamation approving the concept and allowing the counties to proceed.

The concept gives visitors and residents the ability to travel to and within Hawaii without a normal 14-day in-room quarantine. Think what fun paradise will be confined to a resort property, your every movement followed via bracelet and location compliance tracking software.

In the first 200+ comments about Hawaii resort bubbles, you have been overwhelmingly against the idea. Please let us know your thoughts. Rest assured that stakeholders in Hawaii travel are reading them. Reader Kathy just said, “Perhaps we can make a reality show called ‘Prison in Paradise’; the old Fantasy Island show with a twist. The theme song should be Hotel California.”

Beat of Hawaii: A Hawaii resort, unlike others around the world, was simply never intended to be a destination in and of itself. It is first and foremost antithetical to the Hawaii experience that you would come here and never leave the property. Imagine being at an oceanfront resort, but only being allowed to look at the ocean from your hotel? There is talk on Maui, however, that perhaps the beach in front of a resort will be closed to residents and open only to quarantined guests. The whole idea isn’t viable, it is insulting, and we aren’t even sure it is safe. We’re reminded of blowing bubbles as a kid, how pretty it looked for a moment, but then the bubble burst. So it goes with this idea. 

Hawaii resort bubbles: how it works.

The Hawaii resort bubble concept allows visitors to freely meander within an approved resort during their 14-day quarantine but they remain “geofenced” within the resort boundaries. Tracking software and monitoring devices would quickly alert police to anyone who attempts to leave the resort illegally. Those agreeing to participate would sign waivers permitting the electronic surveillance of their movement as well as access to their health information. Any (thus far unknown) costs would also be born by visitors.

But here’s the other problem. Visitors would not have to be tested for COVID, so they could bring it to the resort without knowing it, and infect other visitors and hotel workers who then leave the resort when they go home to their families.

Kauai mayor pushes forward while the largest and most appropriate Kauai resort says NO.

Kauai’s mayor said that a resort bubble “is just one step in the staged approach for a broader opening of travel.” Program details are still to be determined, including which (if any) resorts would participate in providing a plethora of required measures, as well as testing and obtaining approval for electronic quarantine monitoring technologies. 

It has been reported that the Grand Hyatt Kauai, the largest and potentially most appropriate Kauai resort, which is currently closed, has no plans to reopen until the 14-day quarantine is lifted. This is the largest resort on Kauai, and it is not wanting to “bubble.”

And if you’re thinking you can take off your bracelet and have any fun, think again. Kauai’s mayor said, “This technology is also embedded whereas if somebody tried to take this band off, it will also ping the resort security as well as our local law enforcement.”

Hawaii travel stakeholders, meanwhile, are doubtful of the state’s latest boondoggle. 

While some believe that resort bubbles could be a way to slowly restart tourism, it isn’t clear that there would be any demand for this crazy, visitor-alienating and potentially dangerous idea. 

Alex Da Silva at Hawaiian Airlines said, “It’s difficult to predict how much demand such a proposal would entice. Each day a pre-arrival testing program is delayed creates significant economic damage to our state, Hawaiian Airlines, and other Hawaii companies that directly or indirectly depend on air travel and tourism to stay in business and keep workers employed.”

Ben Rafter, Hawaii Tourism Authority Board member and hotel chain CEO said, “Doing geofencing for some of the resorts as a way to let some tourists in would be a big mistake. It is way off-brand, and it will ruin experiences and memories for visitors.” 

Pleasant Holidays CEO Jack Richards had mixed feelings saying, “We have already canceled over $4 million in books scheduled for September and that’s just the air, hotel and rental piece. If this is the only way to reopen Hawaii tourism, let’s do it and see what happens. We have to get tourism open for everybody.”

Should this controversial plan ever come to fruition, it might in theory debut in a matter of weeks. Based on how much international bad press this is likely to garner, we hope it is dropped sooner than later. 

Kauai and Maui County mayors are the leading proponents of the Hawaii resort bubble concept but neither has yet been able to provide details of what would be required. The Big Island previously also indicated interest, with County Managing Director Roy Takemoto saying, “They would be allowed to stay at selected resorts and the resorts would control where the visitors would be allowed to range.” 

Daunting obstacles and a myriad of questions exist.

Resorts would have to develop and seek approval of safety plans and other aspects. They would also need to purchase the required equipment and software to enable the process. 

How those in the neighboring and related communities would be protected is unclear. Maui’s mayor had the idea that workers would live on the property and perform 5-day shifts. He also suggests doctors be housed at the resorts. If anyone tests positive, workers might need to stay on-premises 14 additional days.

Would entire Hawaii resorts be dedicated to quarantining visitors, or just some parts? How would visitors be monitored and segregated from non-quarantining guests within resorts? How would restaurants and other facilities work – one for quarantine and one for not? And would the same be true for resort pools?

The Big Island has numerous large resorts that might be some of the islands’ best situated, should this concept come to fruition.

Are resort bubbles working anywhere?

We previously wrote about resort bubbles and How Other Island Destinations Are Handling Tourism Now. That as related to the reopening of tourism in Jamaica, which, by the way, is far better logistically set up for such a concept, than is Hawaii.

In June, Jamaica announced its “resilience corridor” along Jamaica’s northern coast, and subsequently its southern coast.  It is still unclear whether that plan is effective in containing the virus. Jamaica also has on-arrival testing which it uses when appropriate. Jamaica changed plans and at least temporarily stopped the corridors. At this point, US arrivals (may be state-dependent) must also provide test results taken within 10 days of travel.

Are you ready for Hawaii resort bubbles?

Beat of Hawaii © photo at Hapuna Beach Resort, Big Island.

Updated 8/21/20.

405 thoughts on “Hawaii Resort Bubbles APPROVED | The Worst Idea Ever?”

  1. Plan & simple No to resort Bubble…I won’t come & be confined. That not the experience I want on any vacation.

  2. Aloha Bob A! I have never been offended by the term haole unless there is something derogatory in front of it as I feel with most words.

    As for Covid19 we have a long way to go. We will get there if we all practice the Aloha Spirit and wear a mask to protect one another! Mahalo!

    1. Aloha Nani C! I am very happy for you and learn new things every day regarding what words we can call each other. I like that you are easy going sweetie… Take care!

      The Hawaiian Governor today said travel can resume October 15th from the mainland!!!

      Hawaii is the best!

      1. Mahalo Bob A! I will be there on October 9th and plan on being on quarantine for 14 days at the Marriott before moving to our home away from home in Poipu for two plus months. Mahalo for understanding the importance to keep our brothers and sisters in Kauai safe dear. Mahalo!

  3. This is dumb. Haoles didn’t follow the rules before and they won’t do it with a resort bubble! Keep da locals safe! Don’t put the lives of da locals on da line just for bring da haoles back!

    1. Ikaika I agree with you that the bubble is a weird idea but please don’t put all haoles in the same basket. I live on the mainland and have been staying in my house since March 9th because I want to stay away from the fools that won’t wear a mask. Like a lot of people I love and respect Kauai and would not violate the rules. I believe the people that break the law should be locked up and fined to keep the Island safe. Business’s need to open up safely. We all have to coexist so let’s treat each other with respect and keep everyone safe! Mahalo for your time!

      1. Hi everyone, is the word “haoles” a derogatory term for Caucasian Americans akin to the “N” word for African Americans? I would suggest we all get the Aloha spirit and not call names.

        By the way, its very exciting that we are doing so much better percentage wise with the corona-virus than many other countries. Great job Trump administration! USA always leads!

        Lets get back to Aloha time!

        1. Bob, the word “ha’ole” in a literal translation means “no breath”. Upon first contact the native Hawaiians noticed the strange habit of Europeans grabbing someone’s hand and shaking it rather than holding the person by the shoulders and touching the nose to that person’s forehead. The act symbolized the connection of all people by breath, and with true cultural Hawaiians continues, though CV-19 has probably interrupted the practice.

          With the uneducated and prejudiced it can be a derogatory term, but when used (unless preceded by “effing”)it usually refers to someone who is ignorant of the cultural origins or demonstrates a lack of their own aloha by their actions.

          1. Hi James B and thank you for your White definition. (I asked my native Hawaiian neighbor before you answered) and she wanted to educate both of us. First because she is educated native Hawaiian Professor she said she would not refer to me or another Caucasian as a ha’ole because it is a pejorative way of addressing a “White.” Akin to a White calling an AA “boy.” (Not the N word for heavens sake).

            She did say like African Americans who call each other the “N” word as an endearing term, it is ONLY for them to use.

            She wanted you to research “Haole” does not mean “breathless or no breath”. It means “foreign” and later came to be the word describing Hawaii’s first foreigners, white people. “Ha’ole” (notice the glottal stop) means “without breath” and is a clever play on the word that modern Hawaiians use to illustrate how white people don’t have proper or enough connection to anyone or anything other than themselves. “Haole” is an ancient, neutral adjective. “Ha’ole” is a modern word that is oftentimes not complimentary.

            Anyway, I wanted to pass on her education to you and me… Thanks again James!

          2. I’d be the last to question a Hawaiian professor. Please note that in my reply, I did use the ‘okina when referring to ha’ole as meaning “without breath” (ha = breath; a’ole = no), so in the end my definition did agree with your neighbor’s. Plenty of Hawaiian words are “modern”. Ka’a for example is used in Hawaiian as “car”. Mokulele (the airline) uses the word meaning airport. Both would have not existed in ancient times.

            From the Hawaiian Language Dictionary:

            The true meaning of of “HAOLE”:

            ha= breath of life.
            A’ole: none (without) or no.

            The first white man who met the chief extended his hand and did not offer the “ha” …. therefore, the breath of life was not present or offered.

            Thus, “haole” (ha’a’ole) shortened to “haole.”

          1. Hi Barb! I’m saying our total deaths per million are better than that of the UK, Spain, Belgium, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and other countries. Our death rate has plummeted and we should all be extremely happy about it.

            I don’t judge the mistakes by Cuomo or Trump as in all pandemics mistakes are made. I do not believe any person could have done a better job than our President & team of Pence, Fauci, Birx and others.

            Fauci said this exactly: “I didn’t see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said,” Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.”

            So yes Barb, I’m very optimistic, educated and a proud American. (Who loves Hawaii!)

          2. uh 1400 deaths is not plummeting death toll and our numbers could have been miniscule had we had a consistent national plan to wear masks socially distance and sanitation but Nope

          3. Aloha Bob,

            Here’s a treasure trove of scientific data from the world’s most respected research institutions.

            The links are interactive, just have to click on the publication and the Covid19 data is there. Worth a look for finding current data. ALL the articles about covid19 are FREE for the reading.

            Enjoy – these links were pulled together by one of Silicon Valley’s legends. Enjoy reading the data – real eye openers.

            Simplified version – all interactive – click on link

          4. Hi and Aloha Paul C and Barb… I understand where you two are coming from, each of us has their own wonderful optimism or not. Like I said, I follow Dr. Scott Atlas – a brilliant doctor and chief of neuroradiology at the Stanford University Medical Center. Just a genius.

            Anyway, I think a drop in thousands of deaths a day is in fact plummeting Paul. (Half glass full for me! 🙂 Additionally, as a son of a Medical Doctor in General Practice he indicated to us unless we all wear gloves, ‘non cloth’ face masks, stay indoors 100% of the time and wear face shields at all times it would not have mattered very much. It helps, but some think we would have had 90% less cases whereas we may have had a few percentage points less in cases. Maybe.

            Here in Los Angeles and other states (Oregon being the worst) thousands of people riot and protest without social distancing, (125 days in a row and counting) but talk about a single Trump a rally. It doesn’t make sense. Coronavirus became political, Americans blaming Cuomo a democrat for sending infected patients to their deaths while democrats blame Trump for following Fauci’s recommendations. Fauci just said Trump followed his advice. Here in CA Pelosi welcomed people to Chinatown in March… But we shouldn’t get political as Americans so I won’t.

            Lets just say I am positive and believe with Fauci, Birx, Pence, CDC and Trump guidelines America did the best we could with what we knew at the time. Shutting down America for a year would have turned us into Venezuela.

            You both may not agree, but that is what is beautiful about our country. I can see the glass half full and you can see it half empty. Its what makes America great!

            Now lets open up Hawaii on October 15th as planned!! Aloha! Time to visit my favorite beaches, golf courses and restaurants in Kauai.

          5. Aloha Bob A! You may want to do some research on Dr.Atlas who is from my neck of the woods. A group of 78 researchers and doctors from Stanford Medical School took aim this week at Dr. Scott Atlas, the expert President Donald Trump recently added to the White House pandemic response task force, for embracing and peddling what they described as “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science” in his public musings about the coronavirus.

            Atlas, a neuroradiologist by training with no background in treating infectious diseases, joined the president’s medical advisory staff last month. Before doing so, he made frequent appearances on Fox News, where he often cast doubt on the efficacy of wearing masks and pushed for schools to reopen with in-person learning –
            I think we should listen to the real experts and continue to wear masks and social distance until the virologist and experts get this thing under control. Mahalo!

  4. I have been waiting for the Pre-Travel Testing program to be put in place. I’ve been moving my flight every month. I for one would not be in favor of the resort bubble concept due to the lack of testing and too many people’s propensity for not following the rules and prolonging this pandemic.

    1. Thank you Nani C. I too am from Scott Altlas’s area. Bob does not seem to grasp that it’s not a half full or half empty viewpoint. It’s reading the scientific data, not a matter of opinion. – Mahalo – Barb B

      1. Well Aloha Barb and Nani… I absolutely understand science as my father is a Medical Doctor and I am a graduate from Pepperdine University here in California. “Glass half full” is about my outlook on life, not science.

        Additionally, I am really happy that both of your educational degrees are much more impressive than the shoddy degrees of Dr. Atlas of Stanford Medical Center. I appreciate you both for teaching all of us and look forward to your views on how we can not only beat CV-19, but all future pandemics as well.

        After writing to you here I will contact the Coronavirus Task Force and let them know you two should replace Atlas, Birx and Fauci as they failed our country. We need great minds like yours! If only you were called upon in January of this year all this “pandemic stuff” could have been avoided. Bless you and Aloha!

  5. I think it’s wishful thinking. The moment one person gets COVID inside the bubble, it’s all over. There are plenty of opportunities to get the virus between the time of a negative test (plus any days between exposure and when a test would come back positive) and their arrival in the bubble. Now they spread it while partying at the bar. You have a mass spreading event because people thought they were safe and let their guard down. The whole resort has to quarantine from each other after they’d paid top dollar and are mad because they were guaranteed safety and are possibly sick and may not be able to go home or leave the resort, like some kind of infected cruise ship except it’s easier to escape to the unsuspecting surrounding communities. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

    1. Fair point, I don’t think there’s a way to be 100% sure the virus doesn’t make it in unless you do fairly consistent & daily testing. could be a game changer. Also, just because your in a resort bubble, doesn’t mean you can let down your guard. No parties, masks & distancing still required etc.

    2. Laila I agree with you, I would much rather go to condo, we stay at those and there might be days between seeing some of the people right next door. Those resort bubbles would rule Out a Lot of vacationers because of the cost and really not being able to do much! We are anxious to get back to our condo but when…. we are booked for January 2nd fingers crossed!
      We are Canadians in Saskatchewan where we have 58 active cases of Covid-19, 24 people have died.

  6. Author: Bob A
    “New Normal” will never be looking like communist China Nani C (related to Paul C?) Americans are free, Americans are brave. Not mask wearing robotic sheep. Frightened people should have the new normal… hide in your home forever. Brave Americans should understand the risk and get back to work! USA #1
    Oh Bob you must be a complete joy to be around with all your rhetoric and paranoia. Communist China huh? Wow. You wont like the new normal because laws are being put in place and you will have to follow the rules and laws or be arrested and fined which in your case I am sure Darren/Karen would be an absolute riot to watch as your being cuffed and led off.
    Americans are free and brave but also cautious and smart when it comes to our health at least most of us are unlike you sir.
    Again I have worked thru this entire thing. What do you do? You must be unemployed as your comments seem to dominate this great site. Stop with the vitriol and hatred towards your fellow americans who are taking precautions and being careful and dont forget to vote on november 9th hahahahah

  7. My husband and I have made reservations on SW Airlines for November 6. We are both excited about being given the opportunity to actually write, read and rest. We like each other so we could probably manage to hang out for two weeks without too much fuss. We would stay 5 weeks so after our quarantine, still have time to explore. We’ve been to Hawaii before, many times and find the relaxation factor on a scale from 1 – 10 a 10+. We’ve been holed up at home for so long, no parties, no gatherings, no restaurants that a different 4 walls would be a welcome change. I understand the trepidation that the residents feel at the plan for resort bubbles. If the spread of the virus continue to be really not good, we would cancel our reservations. Yeah Southwest Airlines! Sharon

    1. Hi sharon , I agree with your comments on the 10+ relaxation factor of Hawaii And the need to get away from home isolation . As Oahu doesn’t appear elgible for this bubble status I would easily be happy elsewhere in Hawaii .i hope the hotels if they offer this don’t raise the price since they do have a monopoly as few places have what it takes . It does appear the state will need to extend the travel lockdown beyond the October 1date

  8. I don’t understand why the citizens of Hawaii who’s livelihood’s depend on the tourism industry one way or another, let their Governor get away with using the millions of dollars of federal funding for purposes that do nothing to quell the devastation felt by it’s population. Some of the Federal Aid Hawaii has received could have been used ingeniously to form a partnership between a qualified lab,Hawaiian airlines and the state of Hawaii. The state could have been on its way toward economic recovery and freedom. Having a local airline with this sort of partnership could have ensured responsible testing of visitors before they ever set foot in the islands. Summer months could have kept businesses anchored until more geographical regions opened up and travel returned to near normal. Governor Ige, along with the Island Mayors have been totally void of creative thinking and remiss in their responsibilities to those businesses that have provided tremendous capital investment in the State’s infrastructure. The only State more mismanaged than Hawaii is CA. I am saddened by the apathy of Hawaii’s citizens that allow such widespread devastation to occur. When are the citizens of Hawaii going to hold their Governor accountable for the mismanagement that drove the State’s economy into the dirt when it could have been avoided.

  9. I think it would be a great idea! I am willing to get a negative Covid test and stay at a resort, on the grounds, as long as they have a beach, open pool, and a restaurant and bar. I don’t need to go all over the island! So definitely we would go stay in a resort “bubble”! Nancy

  10. How is this “bubble” any different than quarantining for 14 days? It’s the same thing, only at a resort. Visiting Hawai’i should not be limited to the “have’s” who have enough money to afford a resort. Plus, resorts are staffed by locals. Even if you house them for 5 days, what about the rest of the days? Bringing people to the islands to only select resorts would not help the economy, only endanger the residents.

    A hard NO to this idea! Keep my family and friends in Hawai’i safe!!

    1. Quarantining in a hotel room for 14 days is pretty tough physically & mentally. People have & will be tempted to break quarantine if it’s not strictly enforced. Staying, moving around, but not leaving the resort is a decent compromise. Will it be expensive? Probably, Korea charges $100 a night to quarantine in a room. For those that can’t afford it, I would say come back once the pandemic is over or stay w/ friends & family.

  11. It is amazing, in my opinion, how incompetent Hawaii’s governor is. So much so that he may be setting a new standard for how not to run your state. It’s bad enough our country voluntarily destroyed its own economy, but to watch the paradise that is Hawaii do even more damage to itself is disheartening.

    We love Hawaii, but we’re not at all sure when we’ll go back. It’s currently impossible to plan everything, given the government-caused fluidity and day-to-day constantly changing situation on the ground there.

    I sure hope the fine people of Hawaii, especially those who have been devastated by the lack of tourism, vote this clown out of office at the first opportunity. I realize tourism is unpopular, but unfortunately the state has backed itself into a position where that is the major economic engine.

    Here’s hoping Hawaii someday returns to normal. The good news is the reefs and ocean are rebounding now that the destructive tourists are not abusing them.

    1. Aloha Lisa W!

      I think that the state of Hawaii and California are looking at a bigger picture and that would be to keep Americans alive!
      Looking at the big picture and saving lives is more important than satisfying tourism. Yes the economy is important but if everyone is dead it doesn’t matter! It is what it is so let’s confront it dead on. Wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands so we can open our economy safely. Aloha @

    2. So Scott C you’d rather have say Disantis of Florida as the governor who swung all the doors wide open and his state is setting records for covid19 now? Thats what you want for Hawaii?
      “Voluntarily destroyed our own economy?” You cannot be oh nevermind you are serious.
      I for one hope you do not go back.
      There is one thing I agree with in your statement “The good news is the reefs and ocean are rebounding now that the destructive tourists are not abusing them.”

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