Businesses to vie for Mauna Kea workers
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lynda Arakawa
About 15 Big Island hotels and other businesses will be seeking workers from the recently closed Mauna Kea Beach Hotel at a job fair tomorrow and Saturday.
Many of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel's 450-plus workers are expected to be laid off early next year, although a final number of displaced employees had not yet been determined, a spokesman said. The hotel suddenly closed about two weeks ago to repair damage from the Oct. 15 earthquakes.
The closure came at a time when many West Hawai'i employers have been struggling to find workers in a tight labor market.
The Fairmont Orchid recently brought in 25 Filipino workers on seasonal work visas and still has about 50 vacancies. Two months ago the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which has had about 100 of its 1,300 positions vacant, used a training visa program to hire 10 workers from Mexico and two from South Korea.
Both hotels are among the employers participating in the job fair.
Since closing the property, hotel operator Prince Resorts Hawaii has been looking at ways to keep at least some employees working, including creating other jobs during repairs.
The Mauna Kea's sister property, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, held a job fair last week and will pick up about 60 workers.
With the earthquake damage limited to the hotel, officials also said the resort is keeping several other operations open, including the Mauna Kea Golf Course, pro shop and clubhouse, 19th Hole Restaurant, Hau Tree Restaurant, Gazebo Bar, as well as the resort's weekly lu'au and clambakes.
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel continued operations following the Oct. 15 earthquakes, although it closed more than 140 of its 310 rooms while structural assessments were being conducted. But the hotel shut down when an engineering consultant identified new structural damage in sections of the roof.
Prince Resorts Hawaii president Donn Takahashi has estimated the repairs will take at least a year.
Reach Lynda Arakawa at email@example.com.