Hotels Are Infrastructure

Hotels Are Infrastructure

The way sewer pipes and power lines bring us energy and remove our waste; hotels do the same for tourists.  We may not like it, we may not believe it, but hotels are infrastructure. They make life easier for everyone who calls Hawaii home.  For over 50 years the hotels did their job but something changed in 2016 and the industry was too slow to adapt. 

There are ~81,000 regulated hotel rooms across the state. Built to handle 6,500,000 visitors annually, give or take. The last hotel built on Oahu was the Disney Aulani in 2011 (over a decade ago).  Since then we’ve seen the visitor numbers jump to over 10MM, a 60% increase.  Where they went is easy to diagnose: see the emergence of Airbnb and the explosion of the alternative accommodation segment. 

I once read an essay that said “To keep up with inflation, Hawaii needs to build three new hotels each year. Let that sink in for a moment.” Directionally, this seems right. Would we rather live in a place that did something to contain (and entertain) tourists, or right next door to the people arriving on Southwest every hour.


January 26, 2024