These days, dealing with the impact of the coronavirus is unquestionably a daunting proposal for virtually all hotels. But Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is doing just that while also undergoing a $65 million renovation project.
“The construction industry is considered essential in Hawaii,” said John White, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “We are taking advantage of this time to expedite the noisy phase of construction during our closure to ensure a seamless guest experience and minimal noise disturbance once we begin to welcome guests back to the property.”
He also noted that the hotel is very committed to its employees on multiple levels. “Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is very committed to our ohana [family] on multiple levels,” he said. “We brought some employees back to make makamae [Hawaiian crafts] for the new rooms, conduct deep cleaning throughout the hotel and begin planning for reopening. We focused on projects where we could ensure health and safety protocols could be easily followed.”
First, the hotel enhanced cleaning protocols in both the front of house and back of house areas. “As employees come back to work, we are following all CDC guidelines as they work on projects throughout the hotel,” White said. “Secondly, we are covering everyone’s medical benefits if they were temporarily furloughed. Third, we have continued to actively share updates during this rapidly changing situation to ease employee anxiety.”
The hotel is aiming for a June 1 reopening. “We are working with the state and local government to review the latest intelligence and information,” White said.
The property’s transformation, meanwhile, includes a significant redesign to the 180-room Kaua’i Wing; enhancements to the courtyard, including the addition of native Hawaiian plants; and the addition of Huihui, an oceanfront restaurant.
“Alika Guerrero, our director of po’okela [excellence], is overseeing all cultural aspects of the renovation process, which is being guided with Hawaiian culture at its core,” White said. “We felt it was important to undertake this enhancement so we can grow our opportunities to provide the unique and culturally enriching guest experiences for which Ka’anapali Beach Hotel has become known. We want the project to reflect and respect the Hawaiian culture and support our po’okela programs that have been ongoing for over 30 years.”
In large part, it is the property’s cultural offerings that appeal to its clientele. “Many of our guests are interested in Hawaiian culture and participate in our complimentary classes including ukulele lessons, ‘olelo Hawaiian language classes and weaving,” White said.
“Hale Huaka’i, the hotel’s ocean activities center, offers adventures for the whole family, such as canoe paddling, standup paddleboarding, snorkeling and conch shell blowing.”
Families, including multigenerational groups, account for a considerable amount of the hotel’s business. “We have many families that return year after year,” White said. “These guests have created strong bonds with our employees, many of whom have been employed at the hotel for over 50 years and know the names of the guests’ grandkids.”
On the agent front, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel is committed to keeping travel advisors fully informed about the property’s transformation. “Travel agents have been very receptive to our webinars and learning about the enhancement of their beloved Ka’anapali Beach Hotel,” he said, adding that the property wants “guests to know that the employees who make [the hotel] such a special place are eager to welcome them back when it is the appropriate time.”
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