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Hawai`i County (KOA, ITO, MUE) Visitors After Oct 15 - What to Expect?

Hawai`i County (KOA, ITO, MUE) Visitors After Oct 15 - What to Expect?

Old Oct 18, 20, 9:13 am
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Hawai`i County (KOA, ITO, MUE) Visitors After Oct 15 - What to Expect?

Placeholder for discussion. For those interested in the current eruption, please see: Consolidated "Big Island Volcano/Lava Flows & Lava Viewing" Thread [Dec 2020-Forward]

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Old Oct 20, 20, 8:41 pm
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From BIVN:

Hawaiʻi County Changes Inter-Island Travel Rules, Effective October 21

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Old Oct 31, 20, 12:03 pm
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Just a quick note for the benefit of those following the thread that arrival into KOA this past week was notable for its lack of drama. Was through the State-mandated QR/test verification in about 5 minutes (they had four parallel lanes, but only after they first verified you had a QR code and results---a shocking number of people had no idea what they were supposed to have at the ready). Once past that, Mayor Kim's hospitality kicked in, and you joined one long queue (the one in the photos you'll see of the process), but it moved fairly quickly with 3 parallel testing stations. It was 15 mins from plane to test, and then another 15 for results. (Although passengers on the flight that arrived immediately before us reported results took ~30 mins, so YMMV).

I arrived in the evening, so it was pleasant anyway, but they had tents set up over the line area, and massive swamp coolers in the holding area. Volunteers were also offering free water and snacks (and they have a vending machine in the back if you're desperate).

Frankly, everything was far smoother than I would have expected based on experience with any governmental process on the Big Island.
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Old Oct 31, 20, 1:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Erasmus View Post
Frankly, everything was far smoother than I would have expected based on experience with any governmental process on the Big Island.
The good/bad news is that air travel to Hawaii Island is way down beyond that first week at about 1/2 of what it was. If the number stays around 500 +/- 100, it seems somewhat manageable at the airport. But once the passenger daily passenger counts rise above 700, trouble hits.


Hawaii Island Arrivals
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Old Nov 1, 20, 9:09 pm
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I flew into KOA on Saturday and it was all quick and smooth. Off the plane you get funneled into the QR code/negative test line, the scan the code, and I was off on my merry ways 5min later.
no big deal.
a few hotels and restaurants are still closed, but overall not too bad. Alii drive is super empty.
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Old Nov 1, 20, 11:03 pm
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Kings Land opens this week, Mauna Lani opens this weekend, Fairmont Orchid, Mauna Kea, Hapuna Beach Resort, and Hilton Waikoloa Village opens next week, and the Four Seasons opens in a month. None will operate with much capacity, but it'll be good to slowly get back to normal even if things are far from normal.

It sounds like the Fairmont Orchid encountered some significant property damage during the shutdown (burst pipes, etc) and most of the resort won't reopen at reopening. The Mauna Lani is rolling out their guest policies this week; right now they're looking at testing guests at arrival and every few days...along with resort staff. They also want to try pursuing mask-always-on policy including in the pool and ocean, but I'm not sure how exactly that will work. Maybe you just need to keep your head above water at all times?

Should be interesting to see what this "new normal" looks like over the next 6 weeks.
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Old Nov 7, 20, 12:56 am
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Flew into KOA yesterday. We were in the front, so in the first 25 passengers off the aircraft. Queue to testing took 15 min. Waiting for test results took another 30 min. So, pretty much as expected. Then came the unexpected, trying to pick up car at Hertz. I am Presidents Circle, but Hertz has eliminated counter bypass. It took 2 shuttles before I could get on one, and I left my husband at the airport with the luggage. Other companies are only allowing drivers on the bus, but not Hertz. Stood in line at Hertz for another 45 minutes, for a 5 minute transaction so that they could see the airport form showing COVID negative. They had two representatives that were servicing Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty customers. From the time we landed, it took over 2 hours to depart the airport. Next unexpected event was our arrival at Mauna Kea. To check in, they needed to see the electronic QR code from Safe Travels website, for all hotel guests (hardcopy was not acceptable). And, they are only servicing the rooms every 3 days. My husband thinks this is because they need to spend more time cleaning a room when the guests check out. No valet parking (not that I would have used that service). Dining options are limited. In general, both Hertz and the hotel seem to be understaffed. Pack extra patience.
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Old Nov 7, 20, 2:59 am
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Originally Posted by sunfl0wer View Post
. Next unexpected event was our arrival at Mauna Kea. To check in, they needed to see the electronic QR code from Safe Travels website, for all hotel guests (hardcopy was not acceptable). And, they are only servicing the rooms every 3 days. My husband thinks this is because they need to spend more time cleaning a room when the guests check out. No valet parking (not that I would have used that service). Dining options are limited. In general, both Hertz and the hotel seem to be understaffed. Pack extra patience.
i went to Mauna Kea for dinner last night (at Manta.) This is their first week open since March. I was surprised by the lack of safety protocols at the resort: no temperature check, no hand spray upon entry to the grounds, no ID check or wristband to confirm that I was checked and not stuck in a quarantine restriction. Staff were mask compliant though as were guests for the most part. I was able to walk from self parking to Manta effortlesy which surprised me compared to the lock down other places have.

Manta's menu was a bit scaled back and the prices seemed a bit lower to me than they were before. But service and food were very good.

The Mauna Kea has 252 rooms but they've capped capacity to 60. (The Auberge Mauna Lani has cut capacity down to 50 for when they open!) So they clearly have a fraction of the staff to support the few guests they have. So enjoy being in a resort near peak time that is practically empty -hopefully it'll never be like that way again. They told me they expect to hit their 60 guest capacity by Sunday.

The state/county have agressive guidelines that the resorts need to follow...everything from limiting the number of guests in an elevator to the # of times staff can enter a guest room over the course of the week. Hotels also must set aside rooms in case guests contract COVID on property. And they must let rooms sit for x hours/days between guests for deep cleaning. They also need to be certain that off-island guests are out of quarantine or they can be shut down.
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Old Nov 7, 20, 7:17 pm
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Arrived at Kona yesterday on UA2373. Flight was early and we beat the Delta flight that was supposed to be 20 minutes earlier than us (which I thought we would have to wait behind). Only one couple was ahead of us, so no wait as there are multiple lanes to check QR codes and IDs. Then went to testing area... and were waved past it! They had started the random 20% testing on arrival, we didn’t even know. So process was painless.

Went to Hertz for our Thrifty rental, had to wait about 10-15 minutes. They wanted to see QR code and negative test results.

On check in at Grand Naniloa in Hilo, they asked for a copy of negative tests (we had multiple so just gave them a set), and then had us email a screenshot of our QR codes to a hotel email address to verify them. No housekeeping (as expected). No free breakfast either as restaurant is not open in the morning (they said 1000 points instead). No resort charge which was a surprise, as the Hilton site said it would be charged. So that was a pleasant (and fair) surprise. Would much rather save the $30 a day than get the free drink coupon, golf, etc. Parking is free (normally part of resort charge).
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Old Nov 8, 20, 9:20 pm
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We have been at Mauna Kea since Thursday. There certainly seems to be more than 60 rooms full. The beach has run out of chairs and umbrellas and put out extra. I counted about 90 umbrellas on the beach today. There is always a line for breakfast at Manta. Hau Tree is full for lunch. You need to have a reservation at Copper Bar for dinner. Parking lot is full each evening. Today was our third day, and room was, thankfully, serviced. A-Bays Island Grill in Kings Shops/Waikoloa is open and has outdoor dining and good service. We've gone there twice.

Last edited by sunfl0wer; Nov 9, 20 at 12:12 am
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Old Nov 10, 20, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by sunfl0wer View Post
We have been at Mauna Kea since Thursday. There certainly seems to be more than 60 rooms full. The beach has run out of chairs and umbrellas and put out extra. I counted about 90 umbrellas on the beach today. There is always a line for breakfast at Manta. Hau Tree is full for lunch. You need to have a reservation at Copper Bar for dinner. Parking lot is full each evening. Today was our third day, and room was, thankfully, serviced. A-Bays Island Grill in Kings Shops/Waikoloa is open and has outdoor dining and good service. We've gone there twice.
We arrived on Sunday Nov1st, the day they opened.

Monday / Tuesday was very light guest wise, but slowly got up to what looked like normal by Friday.

All guests were given a wrist band to show Covid test passed.

The comment about 60 guest max is rubbish.
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Old Nov 10, 20, 9:32 pm
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For Kona this is the info I was given as off Nov 10th

Mauna Kea: Open
Marriott Beach Resort: Opens Nov 18th
Marriott Ocean Club (the timeshare side of the Marriot): Open
Westin Hupana: Opens Nov 20th
Fairmont Orchid: Opens Nov 13th
Hilton Village: Open Nov 13th
Sheraton @ Keauhou Bay: Open

On the Rocks opens Nov 16th
Huggo's and Lava Lava Beach club won't open till Dec 15th
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Old Nov 10, 20, 10:59 pm
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Originally Posted by tattikat2 View Post
We arrived on Sunday Nov1st, the day they opened.

The comment about 60 guest max is rubbish.
The resort re-confirmed they were starting with a 60 guest room cap and expanding capacity later in November.

On another note, I checked into Mauna Lani for their soft open on Saturday. I was the first to check-in of 8 guestrooms booked to start. They're capped to 50 guestooms although said they will raise it for "festive period." They did say they're still getting cancelations for Thanksgiving and Christmas so they're not exactly sure how things will go. They "officially" open on the 15th.

But I must say, I've been incredibly spoiled by the practically empty resort the last handful of days. While Canoe House was packed, mainly by locals, I don't think I saw more than 10 resort guests at one time anywhere. I saw no one at breakfast yesterday; I saw 4 others there today. I never saw anyone use a beach chair. I had the adult pool to myself throughout much of the stay.

Mauna Kea also opened to "members"; they offer different reasonably priced membership levels to people that live inside or outside of the Mauna Kea compound. They get to use the pool, beach, and other recreational facilities while also enjoying discounts at Manta, Copper Bar, and elsewhere. So you also saw a surge of returning members that haven't been able to use their membership in quite a while....and while it may looked like a lot of guests were there, many weren't staying at the resort itself.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Nov 11, 20 at 5:33 am Reason: consecutive posts merged
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Old Nov 11, 20, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by Weatherboy View Post
So you also saw a surge of returning members that haven't been able to use their membership in quite a while....and while it may looked like a lot of guests were there, many weren't staying at the resort itself.
Not true.

I spoke to the Manager while there and the hotel, it's grounds and facilities, beach etc, were open to members the whole time the hotel was closed.
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Old Nov 11, 20, 12:02 pm
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Originally Posted by tattikat2 View Post
Not true.

I spoke to the Manager while there and the hotel, it's grounds and facilities, beach etc, were open to members the whole time the hotel was closed.
That is not true. Perhaps the manager misunderstood your question. Yes, the beach was never "closed". While it was against the law to go to the beach at times during the summer, Mauna Kea doesn't / didn't restrict access. Members and the public could go to the beach when it was legal to do so, but there were no services there. But the resort itself and the grounds/restaurants around it were closed until November. With the facility locked-down to all, they used the time to make repairs on the resort. And over that time, for a period of time, the resort itself was entirely tented to rid it of pests ...becoming one of the largest "tentings" in the pesticide business.

Prior to the resort opening in November, the golf club re-opened earlier during the summer shortly after golfing was made legal again in Hawaii county. I don't remember the specific date that happened, but it was probably in July or August. At that time, members could return to the golf facility as long as the new COVID rules were met. But the resort hotel itself was still shuttered.

A member pointed out to me that they could go back and enjoy the resort on November 1; they invited me to join them at the pool/beach/dinner. That's why I went back for the re-opening of Manta and which is when I got the update from resort management on their capacity counts.

Copper Bar had a soft-opening prior to November 1, and that was open to the general public and members in October, but the rest of the place was closed.


Mauna Kea under tent.
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