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O'ahu sees drop in hotel rooms

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The number of hotel rooms on O'ahu dropped 2.2 percent last year as older hotels were converted to condominiums or apartment buildings.

O'ahu, home to more than half of the rooms in the state, has a collection of aging hotels in Waikiki that have recently been either renovated or converted to other uses. There were 35,664 rooms on O'ahu in 2003, down from 36,457 in 2002, according to a survey released by the state Tourism Liaison Office yesterday.

A shift to more condominiums and fewer hotels in Waikiki could lead to a drop in economic activity for the state's No. 1 tourist destination. Hotels typically employ more people to service rooms than apartment buildings or condominiums do, bring in more tax revenue through the general excise and hotel room taxes, and bring in spending from outside the state.

"If residents are living in the former hotels there's not new money brought into the system by tourists," said David Carey, chief executive of Outrigger Enterprises Inc. "It's the front end of a very heady trend that could change the face of Waikiki."

Among the conversions last year were several former Outrigger properties in Waikiki, including the 600-room Ohana Hobron Hotel, which was converted into The Windsor, a building of 181 condo units, and the 251-room Ohana Surf Hotel, which was converted into residential apartments.

"It's a sign of the times," said Marsha Wienert, Gov. Linda Lingle's tourism liaison. "If it's a trend, it's concerning."

With the Hawai'i Convention Center nearby, "we need enough rooms for those delegates," Wienert said. "One of the goals is to have the big groups here on O'ahu, even if there is a little bit of a concern."

When the convention center was first conceived, tourism officials expected during large conventions that some vacationers would be displaced from Waikiki to the Neighbor Islands, Wienert said. But recently Neighbor Island hotels have also been filling up, so "something that we need to look at is how much displacement can happen to the Neighbor Islands," she said.

Contraction in the O'ahu hotel inventory could be good for remaining hotels because it can lead to higher occupancy rates and boost room rates and revenues. Also, the buildings converted were on the lower, older end of the hotel spectrum that owners found to be better suited for other uses.

"That 2.2 percent was a correction," said Les Enderton, executive director of the O'ahu Visitors Bureau. "The news is basically very good in terms of increasing occupancy rate and increasing daily rate."

The report covered hundreds of properties that tourists in Hawai'i call home, ranging from the two-unit Hale Kimo at Sunset Beach on O'ahu's North Shore to the 793-unit Sheraton Moana Surfrider in Waikiki.

While O'ahu had a drop in hotel inventory, all of the other counties had slight boosts in their room counts last year.

Maui County had the largest increase with 3.3 percent growth to 18,578 rooms, reflecting growth on Maui and Moloka'i. Kaua'i had 3.1 percent growth to 7,257 rooms, while the Big Island had a 1.9 percent increase to 9,478 rooms.

The Neighbor Island growth offset O'ahu's decline, leading to a 0.3 percent increase in visitor accommodations in Hawai'i.

The Neighbor Island increases resulted from a bigger effort to survey properties, according to the report by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The results are based on a survey of available rooms as of May 2003.

Businesses have been investing in resort developments on Neighbor Islands such as the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, a time-share project on Maui.

The hotel room count is made up of 68.7 percent traditional hotels, 23.6 percent condominium hotels, with individual vacation units accounting for 2.8 percent and bed and breakfasts, and hostels, at less than 1 percent.

Time-shares made up 4,762 of the rooms in the state, up 4.5 percent from 2002. Kaua'i had the most time-share units with nearly 35 percent of the total.

"The growth in the future will be through the condo/time-share owners," Enderton said. That could be a positive because the time-share market is more "recession-proof" and brings higher-spending tourists, he said.

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^Ooh i hope not i dont want the other islands to be as commercialized as Honolulu it will kill what Hawaii is supposed to be like although Maui is already becoming a lost cause. :(

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^Ooh i hope not i dont want the other islands to be as commercialized as Honolulu it will kill what Hawaii is supposed to be like although Maui is already becoming a lost cause. :(

I agree. If Hawaii becomes too commericalized, it will loose a major part of what makes it such a great place. Unfortunately, Hawaii continues to become more and more commercialized as we speak :(.

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Well the commercialized is Oahu (Honolulu County) but it has to be cause its the center of trade, government, etc but Maui and Kona on the Big Island are increasingly becoming commercialized and as someone mentioned earlier blame California, Rich Californians are buying up nearly everything on Maui and Kona, not only that they are driving up housing prices and building gated communities which i dont like at all. I think neighborhoods so be enjoyed by all. :angry:

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^Ooh i hope not i dont want the other islands to be as commercialized as Honolulu it will kill what Hawaii is supposed to be like although Maui is already becoming a lost cause. :(

Is it my imagination or is Maui becoming more famous than any other part of Hawaii? I remember in G9 our teacher asked us to name 3 vacation spots and the class came up with Maui as #1, followed by Florida and NYC.

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Well the commercialized is Oahu (Honolulu County) but it has to be cause its the center of trade, government, etc but Maui and Kona on the Big Island are increasingly becoming commercialized and as someone mentioned earlier blame California, Rich Californians are buying up nearly everything on Maui and Kona, not only that they are driving up housing prices and building gated communities which i dont like at all. I think neighborhoods so be enjoyed by all. :angry:

Actually, I wasn't thinking about that at all, good point.

I was thinking "evil California" in a different sense. :devil:

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Wendell FOX, yep Maui is becoming very popular its been voted the best island in the world a few times too....which im like blah i dont think so it might be up there but the best in the world i dont know it all depends on the person i guess. I would probably pick somewhere in Tahiti, the Cook Islands, etc before Maui but thats just me! However most of the tourist that go to Maui are from the Westcoast mainly California its like "their island" as well as people from western Canada, other than that most of the people that go there are domestic travellers Honolulu gets most of the international travellers.

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