State briefs for December 18

Largest Hawaii resort partially reopens after virus closure

HONOLULU — The partial reopening of Hawaii’s largest hotel property is expected to give work back to 250-300 employees after it shut down in April because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort reopened one of its hotel towers Tuesday and many of its restaurants also resumed operations. A second tower is scheduled to open today.

The partial restart will open up about 1,100 rooms and provide jobs for some of the almost 2,000 employees who worked at the complex before it closed on April 13.

“It’s going to be a slow start, and we’ll build from there,” said Hilton Hawaiian Village Managing Director Debi Bishop. “We’ll bring more people back to work as occupancy levels improve. At this point, we don’t know how quickly it will come back. But you have to start somewhere, and we want to be open so we can bring back our team members and our guests.”

A study funded by the Hawaii Tourism Authority estimated that by the end of 2021, statewide hotel occupancy will reach only about 46%. That figure is less than the 50%-60% occupancy the agency said the tourism industry needs to cover costs.

“It will be a five-plus-year recovery from the losses of this year,” said Alison Hoyt, the senior director of consulting and analytics for STR, which conducted the state study.

Santa, Christmas decorations stolen from Guam school

HAGATNA, Guam — Thieves broke into a school this week and stole an inflatable Santa along with Christmas decorations set up to celebrate the school’s 70th anniversary.

The thieves used tools Tuesday to rip open holes in a gate to the campus of Santa Barbara Catholic School, said Principal Sister Maria Rosario Gaite. Decorations were also stolen from an ungated part of the school several weeks ago.

“We were really, really affected by it,” Gaite said, adding that the thefts were reported to police.

The display named Spartan Christmas Village was set up with the Santa, Christmas trees and nativity scenes, nutcrackers and lights.

“I wanted, during this time of the pandemic, to lift the spirits of our students and our families,” Gaite said.

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As of Wednesday, the three nativity scenes and some lights were still on display.

“Probably, people are in need, people are really suffering and these are desperate times,” Gaite said. “It’s just unfortunate that they had to do it through this means. I pray for those people who did it to us. I want to continue to spread the message of hope and the message of love and the message of peace.”

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