While it appears the 14-day quarantine for mainland travelers won’t be ending anytime soon, one highly controversial concept just got wings, albeit on a rope.
Looming questions about resort bubbles remain including:
- How will this concept be perceived globally via press and social media?
- Can the employees of the resorts be protected from untested guests?
- How successful, in the end, can such a concept be financially?
Are you ready for a Kauai vacation where your every move is monitored via a bracelet and app?
That’s what it may take to visit Kauai in the near term. The island has just received approval for a resort bubble, which is being dubbed an Enhanced Movement Quarantine. Yesterday the governor signed the new rule, allowing the implementation to begin.
Travelers will be permitted to roam approved resorts on Kauai, but will not be able to leave the property to go to beaches such as Salt Pond pictured here, or restaurants, or stores. They are required to wear an electronic surveillance bracelet which allows the resort to monitor their movements. Visitors will have access to resort restaurants and pools and will be required to maintain distancing and wear masks. Any violations will be reported first to resort security, then Kauai police. Visitors who violate any rules, including removing the bracelet, could, if found guilty, spend up to one year in prison, be fined $5,000, or both. BOH: We can only imagine the global news when the first violation occurs.
Mayor Kawakami of Kauai said of the concept, the island is “Ready to rock ’n’ roll… The Resort Bubble program is an added tool to reopening our economy while we learn to coexist with this virus. It’s not a replacement or the final solution, and we will continue to keep our community updated as we make progress.”
He also said, “We continue to recommend that you not travel unless absolutely necessary,” and reminded travelers that they’ll need to fill out the “Safe Travels” form, in addition to a Kauai-specific form. BOH: We aren’t sure how to take that. On the one hand, the mayor has single-handedly promoted and gotten the state’s first approval for a resort bubble, while at the same time recommending no travel.
Safety for resort employees questioned.
The Hawaii Hospitality and Healthcare Union spokesperson question the appropriateness of the “hastily conceived ‘travel bubble’ plans to open up travel… These plans fail at first glance, as they contain no provisions ensuring the safety of workers and the(ir) loved ones.”
Which Kauai resorts may participate?
It isn’t clear which properties may decide to take part in the voluntary program. Grand Hyatt, by far the largest Kauai resort, has previously said they have no interest.
Hokuala Timbers Resort, near Lihue Airport, is one of the properties that has applied to take part. It sits on 450 acres in Lihue and has a total of 119 units, a restaurant, a golf course, and four resort pools. The resort said that it would like to add a 72-hour pre-travel testing requirement and that guests will have daily temperatures checks for the first week on the property. Their resorts manager said that guests “got excited” about the concept, including the wearing of wrist bands. BOH: We don’t understand how they could add their own testing program, and we’ll all have to wait to see just what that means.
Controversy within the industry.
Some of Hawaii’s most respected hoteliers are opposed to the concept and have expressed the need for the focus to remain on getting a rapid launch to mainland pre-testing. Others, including past Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, are to varying degrees in favor of the bubble concept. Even while approving of bubbles, Hannemann said, “The overarching goal still is reopening trans-Pacific travel, and we aren’t going to deviate from it.”
Almost uniform disapproval from BOH visitors.
In prior posts, you expressed almost uniform disfavor at the concept of resort bubbles. Has that changed, and do you think the idea is going to be helpful or harmful for Kauai?