As we reported last week, numbers for the hotel industry remain bleak statewide, with occupancy and revenue way down and little relief in sight. Now comes word that the first, but quite possibly not last, hospitality casualty has occurred: Kihei’s Maui Lu Resort announced it’ll close its doors next month. The resort, which opened in 1962, will lay off 41 employees. At this point, the plan for the 26-acre piece of real estate is reportedly to level the existing buildings, which have fallen into disrepair, and to erect time-share units in their place.
Looks like the benefits of lower fuel prices are trickling down: Shipping company Matson Navigation, a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, is slashing its fuel surcharge for the second time in as many months, as reported in Pacific Business News. The surcharge for Hawaii service will drop from 37.5 to 33 percent, translating to a savings of around $15o per container. That said, even at 33 percent it still feels like a price gouge.
The saga of Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Rex Johnson finally came to an end this week when the embattled chief executive resigned. Johnson came under fire for forwarding naughty messages on the company computer—some of which contained racist and sexist jokes about certain presidential candidates—and, after the Honolulu Advertiser obtained and published the messages, he had everyone from Gov. Lingle to the NAACP calling for his head. In the end Johnson stepped aside, although this “resignation” looks a lot like a “Hey Rex, wanna resign or wanna get fired?” Either way, the whole damn thing was dragged out too long and sucked up far too much time and energy from an agency that actually has kind of an important job to do—namely, attracting tourists to an area dependent on tourism at a time when the economy is—not sure if you’ve heard—kind of hurting. Might want to get back on that, guys.
OK, one more thing to report on the Rex Johnson issue then we promise we’ll let it rest: HTA has promoted chief administrative officer Lloyd Unebasami to interim CEO while a search committee looks for a permanent replacement. Quick word of advice, Lloyd: That e-mail with the joke about the blonde, the rabbi and the donkey? Delete it. MTW