Hotels forced to close and souvenir shops without customers were two of the tsunami’s strikes on isle businesses. But there was also a surge in sales of emergency goods and a rewarding day for one restaurant that opened while others nearby remained closed.
At least three hotels in Hawaii were shut when sea water swept through lobbies and restaurants at oceanfront properties. The hotels include King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel and the Maui Beach Hotel, said Mufi Hannemann, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai will be closed at least through Wednesday because a debris-laden surge damaged the hotel’s public areas, spokesman Brad Packer said.
The hotels were still assessing damage.
As Japan works to recover from the earthquake and tsunami, travel to Hawaii could be affected.
Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said in a statement, "We are continuing to monitor the situation and assess the impact that this will have on travel from Japan. But right now our main concern is for the Japanese people and helping them recover from this tragedy."
Martin & MacArthur, a resort retailer with stores at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Shops at Wailea, Whalers Village and Westin Maui Resort & Spa, expected sales to be down as much as 30 to 40 percent. Stores in resort areas were deserted, forcing the business to close an hour early and open two to three hours later than usual yesterday, said Chief Executive Officer Michael Tam.
"The fact that people were totally so distracted by a potential tsunami, there was no interest in shopping, so traffic just dropped as soon as word got out that there was a tsunami coming to Hawaii," Tam said. "It just stopped everything."
Seven of 33 Tesoro stations in flood zones were shut down at midnight and weren’t reopened until after noon yesterday, though customers rushed to gas stations in anticipation of the tsunami.
"It certainly was not a windfall for us," said Lance Tanaka, a Tesoro Hawaii spokesman.
Meanwhile, Target Corp.’s Hawaii stores saw a "marked increase in traffic" after the tsunami warning went into effect, with customers stocking up on essentials including water, toilet paper and Spam, spokeswoman Sarah Bakken said.
More than 100 Waikiki hotel guests who couldn’t be moved to rooms on higher floors slept on the upper floors of the Royal Hawaiian Center, helping to boost business for the sole food-court tenant that was in operation.
The hotel guests, who were camped at the shopping complex since 2 a.m., tripled business at Mahaloha Burger, said founder Jesse Aguinaldo, who opened his doors about two hours earlier than the usual 10 a.m.
"I live in Waikiki, so I took lessons from the last time (there was a tsunami warning)," he said. "When I came in last time, I was the only one open, and I had line like a mile long."