Tag Archives: honolulu

Travel News: Hawaii Hikes Hotel Tax To Pay For Honolulu Rail Transit

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Hawaii Hikes Hotel Tax To Pay For Honolulu Rail Transit

ETN reports Hawaii Tourism Authority issued the following Travel Industry Notification RE: 1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018: Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030. The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation. Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

New Features For Symphony Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is getting a real makeover!

  • two-level Ultimate Family Suites with a slide, floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, air-hockey table and the surround-sound movie room with its own popcorn machine and a library of video games – and 212-sq-foot wrap-around balcony with full-size whirlpool and bumper pool table
  • New ‘friction-less’ mobile check-in.
  • A reimagined Boardwalk with a massive Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, spanning the length of the neighborhood, will be a family magnet with more than 30 televisions, arcade games (video and vintage, like ‘Pac-Man’), draft craft beers, wings and burgers,
  • A redesigned Solarium offering a casual seafood spot, including oysters shucked to order, for lunch and dinner in a casual venue with great views,
  • The world’s largest laser tag arena,  housed in the Studio B ice rink that will be converted for this glow-in-the- dark family activity,
  • Broadway hit ‘Hairspray.’ And a new original ice show, ‘1977,’ features a time-traveling hero on a jewel-heist adventure.

The ship will debut April 18 with weeklong cruises from Barcelona before repositioning to PortMiami’s new Terminal A in November as the first Oasis-class vessel to sail from the ‘Cruise Capital of the World.’ This puts four Oasis-class ships in Florida ports including, also, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral.

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Virgin America Days Are Numbered

Virgin America will cease to exist on April 25, 2018, when all of the airline’s flights will switch over to Alaska Airlines, according to an internal memo. After acquiring Virgin America for $2.6 billion in 2016, Alaska has slowly been rebranding the 10-year-old airline, replacing some signage and ticket counters in airports, with plans to completely rebrand the airline by 2019, AirlineGeeks reported. For fans of the airline, the upcoming disappearance of Virgin America is even more of a reality with the latest announcement. According to the Alaska Airlines internal memo obtained by FlightGlobal, “Alaska Airlines has posted the new Airbus schedule for flights after April 24. The flights will be Alaska flights and will only be available through Alaska channels.” Travelers attempting to book a flight after April 24, 2018 on VirginAmerica.com will be redirected to AlaskaAir.com. On April 25, both airlines will become one in terms of website, mobile app, and ticket kiosks, and will be solely run by Alaska.

Grand Turk Rebounding After Hurricanes, Port To Open In November

Work is full tilt at Carnival Corp. & plc’s Grand Turk Cruise Center to restore the destination to receive ships in November. Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed seven sailings to call next month: Carnival Magic’s Nov. 4 cruise from Port Canaveral, Carnival Ecstasy’s Nov. 5 cruise from Charleston, Carnival Splendor’s Nov. 5 and Nov. 19 voyages from Miami, Carnival Glory’s Nov. 11 and Nov. 25 sailings from Miami and Carnival Conquest’s Nov. 25 cruise from Port Everglades. Further calls are booked in December. The Turks and Caicos Islands sustained a one-two punch from hurricanes Irma and Maria, and Grand Turk was among the hard-hit destinations. However, a senior Carnival Corp. official told Seatrade Cruise News the pier is fine and work is going 24/7 to restore landside facilities and tours. The cruise pier did not suffer any damage while the cruise center facility suffered mostly cosmetic damages and loss of some landscaping. The Carnival Cruise Line shore excursions team and local tour operators, have undertaken their own recovery efforts in gearing up to welcome back passengers. Marc Melville, director of Jamaica-based Chukka tours, which has a staff of about 100 on Grand Turk, as well as sizable operations in Jamaica and Belize, said the message to cruisers is that once Grand Turk reopens: ‘We need you to come back as soon as possible.’

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Travel News: Spain promises Extra Security

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Spain Promises Extra Security In Tourist Areas

The Spanish Government has said it will increase security at tourist sites across the country following last week’s terror attacks. Interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said areas deemed to be potential terror targets would be given special protection. There will also be increased security at the Spain/France border, while Italy is putting up barriers at popular landmarks. The Times reports barriers appeared over the weekend in central Milan, they will also be erected in Palermo and Rome, while security has been tightened up in other areas, such as Bologna. Italian interior minister Marco Minniti is reported to have said he is ‘amazed a van could have driven undisturbed down La Ramblas’. The driver of the van has now been found and killed. Despite last week’s attacks, Spain’s terror threat level has not been increased and remains at four.

Rome Experiments with Controlled Flow of Tourists at Trevi Fountain

Italy Magazine reports Rome is experimenting with a new measure aimed at controlling the crowds at one of its most iconic monuments, the Trevi Fountain. This comes during a summer when problems caused by mass tourism have become more apparent than ever in a number of Italian destinations. From 9 am until midnight, ten volunteers (retired Carabinieri and traffic policemen) will take turns patrolling the area around the Trevi Fountain, directing the flow of visitors and making sure people don’t misbehave. During peak hours, visitors will have to follow a specific path, accessing the fountain from the central entrance and exiting from the one on the left. “This measure is intended to allow everyone to enjoy the monument more effectively,” Diego Porta, commander of Rome’s municipal police, told La Repubblica. “Tourists can throw their coins, take a photo and then leave in order to make room for others.” The volunteers are also tasked with presiding over the monument, and sanction possible inappropriate behavior, such as eating, playing in the water, sitting or leaning on the fountain, which would violate the ordinance signed in June by Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi to safeguard the city’s artistic fountains. “We’ll make sure that tourists don’t eat in the area adjacent to the monument and don’t sit on the edge of the fountain,” added Porta. The experiment, which began at the end of July and is scheduled to continue for 80 days, will become permanent in October if the results are deemed positive. The Trevi Fountain reopened in November 2015 after a $2.2 million restoration funded by the Italian fashion house Fendi.

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Antwerp Plans New Terminal for 2020

Nadine Brasseur, who heads up cruise operations for the city of Antwerp said the city has plans to build a new cruise terminal, that should be finished in 2020. “Our current cruise terminal is located directly in the city center,” she said. “Passengers like that. They can walk two minutes and enjoy the Christmas markets, for example, eat in one of many restaurants, have a Belgian beer or visit museums.” A 28,000-passenger season this year will be highlighted by a first-time call from Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus, which will become the biggest ship to ever call at the Belgian port. Also scheduled is a first time call from Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator, and another exceptional news item: a first time turnaround call from the Crystal Symphony, said Brasseur.

American Airlines To Offer Premium Economy On Hawaii Flights

American Airlines is selling Premium Economy tickets on flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and three Hawaiian cities, beginning on December 15th. American is launching service with Premium Economy fares from DFW to Kahului Airport beginning in December and from DFW to Kona International Airport and Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport set to begin on June 7th, 2018. Also, AA will launch Premium Economy seats from Los Angeles International Airport to HNL, beginning on December 15th until January 7th. The routes will be operated on retrofitted Boeing 777-200s. This is the first time a domestic route will include the larger seats and elevated service Premium Economy offers with its 2-4-2 layout. American Airlines’ Premium Economy offers seven more inches of legroom than standard seats. Customers receive noise-reducing headphones, an amenity kit, blankets and pillows, meal service, and free alcoholic beverages. It was launched earlier this year on international flights to Barcelona in Spain, and Seoul in South Korea.

IHG Goes To 24-Hour Cancellation Policy

Travel Weekly reports InterContinental Hotels Group is introducing a policy enabling customers at most hotels to cancel without penalty if they give at least 24 hours’ notice. The move comes about a month after Marriott International tightened its cancellation policy, requiring guests at most hotels to give 48 hours’ notice to cancel without penalty. IHG’s new policy will go into effect next month across most of IHG’s chains (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Even and Candlewood Suites) in the Americas and Europe, and by October for the Middle East, Africa and Asia, excluding China (where most hotels already have a same-day cancellation policy). Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants chain will retain its 48-hour cancellation policy.

American Airlines Will Now Alert You If Your Bags Get Lost 

American Airlines has launched a program that alerts travelers when their bags don’t arrive at the same airport. Airline passengers often must wait at the baggage carousel until every suitcase has been picked up before realizing that their bags didn’t land with them. Now, Fort Worth-based American Airlines is giving travelers a digital alert if their bags don’t arrive at the same destination at the same time. The alert comes through the contact information provided by the fliers during the booking or check-in process. Loyalty reward members at American Airlines can also get notices through the airline app. The alert tells travelers if their luggage has arrived early or will arrive later. If the luggage is arriving late, the alert informs the traveler to head to the Baggage Service Office to arrange a pickup later or notifies the passenger to fill out a mobile baggage order to have the airline deliver the bag to the traveler’s home, office or lodging. American Airlines’ system relies on bar codes that are printed on each bag label. To keep track of the bags, the bar codes are scanned at several points in the loading and transportation process.

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Glasgow Could Have Water Taxi Service To Airport

A Venetian-style entry to Glasgow has been proposed with plans for a water taxi service from the airport. Arriving passengers would be whisked up the Clyde into the city centre in 25 minutes. Boats would operate from a pontoon on the White Cart Water about 500 m east of the airport. The plans include passengers transferring from the terminal in golf buggy-style vehicles. These would eventually be replaced by a travellator, a moving walkway which would have to go either over or under Abbotsinch Road. The scheme has been devised by John Hillis, who runs power boat trips on the Clyde in Glasgow. He said the route would provide visitors with a stunning introduction to the city. Hillis also said more transport options to the airport were required as it continued to grow, It handled more than 1 million passengers for the first time in June and the annual total has grown by 7 per cent, to 9.7m. 

Conservation-Themed Murals At Honolulu Airport Are Under Threat Of Destruction 

Two of Hawaii’s landmark conservation-themed murals are under threat of destruction by Hawaiian Airlines. The 35,000-square-foot murals “Hawaiian Humpbacks” and “New Millennium” painted in 1999 by renowned marine life artist and muralist Wyland, were created as a gifts to the city of Honolulu to recognize the past, present, and future of Hawaii’s fragile marine life ecosystems. The murals at the Pacifica Airport Center Building, 3049 Ualena Street, Honolulu, were among 100 murals painted in 17 countries by the artist over a 30-year period as part of one of the world’s largest arts-in-public places projects. In every instance, the artist donated his time and services, receiving no compensation, while project partners provided support. The murals are intended to raise global environmental awareness. Hawaiian Airlines, which recently purchased the Airport Center Building, has threatened to remove the mural, “painting it over with a neutral color.” The Airline has threatened to begin destruction of the mural as early as last Friday. Hawaiian Airlines has maintained they will only allow Wyland to restore the mural pending a signed agreement that would remove any protections the public has for the artwork – and allow the company to move forward with the destruction of the mural, regardless of the artist’s efforts to save it. The airline is using building repairs or spalling to set an artificial deadline to pressure the artist into signing an agreement. Wyland has agreed to donate his time and services to repaint the mural and provide all insurance. The murals stand as important beacons to the people of Hawaii and the millions of visitors who come to the Islands every year.

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Kaimuki: O’ahu’s favorite eclectic neighborhood

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WIT Agent Debbie is currently on O’ahu, Hawaii for an educational trip! Look out for her photos later — we’ll post them to Facebook!

She’ll be checking out the Prince Waikiki hotel and Turtle Bay on her trip, so she’ll be able to provide firsthand feedback. Feel free to give her a call when she’s back to know more at our office: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Why you should check out Kaimuki

Want a break from the hubbub of Waikiki? Why not swing by its sleepier sister?

Have you heard of Kaimuki? Not far from Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, this historic neighborhood calls back to Hawaii of 50 years ago. With old-timer buildings, charming parks and old-fashioned delis, it makes a great place to hang out on a hot afternoon.

Once a farm owned by King Kalakaua, where ostriches roamed wild on green slopes, Kaimuki is now a low-key residential area with a strip of niche restaurants and cute boutiques.

Talk story at Coffee Talk, a friendly, relaxed cafe with a hearty selection of drinks and pastries. Grab a tasty sandwich at Kaimuki Suprette, a new deli made up in the old-fashioned style, serving with farm-fresh favorites. Wander down the main street of Waialae Avenue to the niche shops, where you can scavenge for unique jewelry, aloha shirts and rare comic books. Summer is a great time to snack up on those cool treats: and you’ll find everything from shave ice to acai bowls to handmade gelato here. There is even some karaoke, and a wealth of cosmetic spas!

Fun fact: This is the very neighborhood where Israel Kamakawiwo’ole grew up!

So check it out! Kaimuki is just east of Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana–behind Diamond Head:

(Kaimuki is in shaded pink)

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Travel Tips: 7 Reasons you should visit O’ahu

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The beautiful Hawaiian island of O’ahu is an unparalleled destination, full of fun and unique sights, smells, and savories! Here’s a quick list to whet your appetite: 

1. The Byodo Temple

The stunning and breathtaking Byodo Temple was built to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Located on the Windward Side of O’ahu, the temple is more exhibition than functional, complete with a Lotus Buddha statue, lush Japanese gardens, koi ponds and crooning peacocks.

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2. The North Shore Highway

Escape the urban sprawl of Honolulu for the more remote and beautiful North Shore. The north is more relaxed and nostalgic, giving you a glimpse of “Old Hawaii”—and is also the legendary surfing capital of the world. Plus the drive alone has some gorgeous views of the scenic Pacific Ocean.

3. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

Be sure to stop by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck driving north on the Kamehameha Highway. A converted 1953 bread truck now offers some of the tastiest shrimp you’ll ever try—with mouthwatering scampi, lemon butter, hot & spicy shrimp shrimp shrimp!

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4. Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

Nothing says “Hawaiian-style” so much like shave ice, a.k.a. the island snow cone. On O’ahu, flavors like red bean, passion fruit, and guava are as ubiquitous as the dessert shops that sell them. And the ice at Matsumoto’s is legendary, with delicious bowls of frosty pineapple and li hing mui flavors.

5. KCC Farmer’s Market

The KCC Farmer’s Market is an awesome market, chock-full of tropical fruits, baked goodies, drinks and a snippet of crafts. Don’t leave the islands without trying some dragonfruit, white guava, or young coconuts.

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6. Manoa Falls

Trekkers all love the elegant waterfalls at Manoa Falls. The tree-studded path will take you past old park buildings, large boulders, sweet floral aromas and delicate bamboo and ginger. The area is also famous as a filming location for Lost and Jurassic Park. Just be sure to wear the proper shoes (it gets muddy!), sunscreen and insect repellent. 

7. Ahi Poke from Foodland

Nothing says Hawaii like fresh aki poké, raw fish appetizer served with soy sauce, sea salt, roasted candlenut, sesame oil, seaweed and chili pepper. Freshly caught poké is hard to come by, even in Hawaii, so best to try your luck with a local. Foodland supermarkets have a huge poké and poké bowl selection—come early in the morning for the best taste.

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Looking to Experience Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial? Look no further.

In addition to your hotel, flights and car, Willamette Intl Travel can organize tours for you and your family while on the magical island of O’ahu. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com and ask us about your Hawaiian vacation today.

WIT Agent Nancy’s favorite way to experience historical O’ahu is a Pearl Harbor Tour. Tours may include:

  • Fort Shafter, Wheeler Army Airfield, Schofield Army Barracks, and Punchbowl National Memorial.
  • Visit to Home of the Brave’s nostalgic WWII museum that honors the brave men and women who fought courageously during WWII. One of the largest and most unique collection of 1940s memorabilia and photographs.
  • Ticket to board the Arizona Memorial via the Navy Launch, park service film, and tour of the Valor in the Pacific Visitor center.
  • Pick up at Waikiki hotels, avoid the crowds with guaranteed earliest timed entry at the Visitor Center.
  • Driver and knowledgeable guides in period costume.
  • The real radio broadcast of the day Pearl Harbor was bombed on the car’s PA!

photos from Flickr creative commons, courtesy of Jason Raia, frontriver, Edmund Garman, Eugene Kim, Christopher Liang

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