Hawaiians say 'aloha' to visitors, visitors say 'aloha' to deals


February is normally the biggest month of the year for travel to Hawaii. This year, though, it was a disaster. Hawaii hotels saw their lowest February occupancy in 18 years. One hotel rooms in four was empty.

Hawaii, being marooned in the Pacific, is more susceptible to recession downturns than perhaps any other major American vacation destination. When people stop spending money to fly places, Hawaii is first to get scratched off dream lists.

The slide in occupancy means a corresponding slide in revenue. Daily rates went from $214 last year to $187 this year, and overall visitors down 12.7% from last year. Bad for locals, who are seeing fewer jobs and less money in their economy. Good news, though, for vacationers, who are now seeing deals for travel to the Aloha State at previously untold low levels.

Pleasant Holidays, a major player in the Hawaiian vacation package market, has marked down its three-night hotel packages from the West Coast to $399, and that's including airfare. You won't have to beat the bushes long to find similar bargains. Hawaii's loss, terrifying as it may be for its workers, can be the Mainlander's gain.