Category Archives: Business

Former HPR news director launches public relations service

Kayla Rosenfeld, former news director at Hawaii Public Radio and communications specialist for the state Department of Human Services, has launched her own solo company, Wild Rose Communications!

Here’s how she describes her effort:

As sole proprietor of Wild Rose Communications, I offer a menu of thoughtfully tailored services to meet your personal and small business needs. These include, but are not limited to, public relations, research, emcee, conference planning, document editing, website management, public speaking coaching, and writing summary reports. Areas of focus and interest include environmental conservation, marine science, the Asia-Pacific region, the healing arts, and human services.

And her self-description:

I describe myself as a Humanitarian, Communicator, Health and Wellness Enthusiast, Environmentalist, Feminist.

I am a seasoned broadcast journalist, and an organized capable communications professional. I have 15 years of experience in public relations, government and non-profit communications, journalism, radio news reporting, issues of the Asia-Pacific region, and environmental education.

If you know Kayla, you know that she puts everything into her projects. She’s a straight shooter, a hard worker, and a talented story teller in various media.

Check out the Wild Rose website, which features some of her current clients, and also serves as an archive of her previous radio and video productions. Check back frequently for content updates.

If you have leads on possible gigs that would fit Kayla and Wild Rose Communications, email her directly. or give her a call (or send a text) at 808-230-5960.

Giant hotel merger gets little attention in local news media

If you haven’t been reading business news over the past few months, you might not have been following the bidding between Marriott and a rival, Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd., to takeover the Starwood hotel chain, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

The two rival bidders each sweetened the pot after Marriott’s initial bid late last year, but in the end it appears Marriott will pull off the deal. The company’s shareholders are scheduled to vote on Friday, and both companies are recommending approval.

What’s interesting to me is that there has been little local reporting on the Marriott-Starwood buyout, despite its obvious impact on the state’s largest industry.

Here are the brands associated with the two chains, which will boast a combined total of about 5,500 hotels and 1.1 million guest rooms in over 100 countries.

About Marriott International, Inc.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is a global leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 4,400 properties in 87 countries and territories. Marriott International reported revenues of more than $14 billion in fiscal year 2015. The company operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 19 brands, including: The Ritz-Carlton®, Bulgari®, EDITION®, JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection® Hotels, Renaissance® Hotels, Marriott Hotels®, Delta Hotels and Resorts®, Marriott Executive Apartments®, Marriott Vacation Club®, Gaylord Hotels®, AC Hotels by Marriott®, Courtyard®, Residence Inn®, SpringHill Suites®, Fairfield Inn & Suites®, TownePlace Suites®, Protea Hotels® and MoxyHotels®. Marriott has been consistently recognized as a top employer and for its superior business ethics. The company also manages the award-winning guest loyalty program, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® program, which together comprise nearly 55 million members. For more information or reservations, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with nearly 1,300 properties in some 100 countries and over 188,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences under the renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®,Tribute Portfolio™, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, Element®, along with an expanded partnership with Design Hotels™. The company also boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®). Visit www.starwoodhotels.com for more information and stay connected @starwoodbuzz on Twitter and Instagram and facebook.com/Starwood.

Read through the list of hotel brands and you’ll see how many properties in Hawaii will be impacted by the merger. In those areas where the two companies hotels are clustered together, it can be expected to have an increased impact.

But you wouldn’t know if from the lack of local attention to the deal and its possible implications.

A search of the Star-Advertiser’s archives found several wire service stories about the deal, but no local reporting, although given the vagaries of the search engine, some might have been missed.

A similar search at Pacific Business News turned up a local story published last week, “Marriott-Starwood merger could affect Hawaii radius restrictions“.

In Hawaii, the deal would combine nine Starwood hotel properties, including the Sheraton Waikiki and The Royal Hawaiian, with Marriott’s 17 hotel and time-share properties, including the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

I wonder whether such a deal will reduce competition and result in higher prices in Hawaii? Will the merger lead to reductions in executive staff, or a consolidation of suppliers? Will there be some properties jettisoned by the new conglomerate? Lots of questions, little initiative on the part of local media.

Still getting my hair cut in the same place

After our early walk today, I had to get moving to make a scheduled haircut in Kaimuki.
As I was sitting down with a cup of coffee, I had a startling realization.

I’ve been getting my hair cut in the same spot since 1969. That boggles my mind, to tell the truth. It’s a small barber shop on the ground floor of the round high rise building on 9th Avenue, just off of Waialae.

Dai Yen ChangPrior to 1978, it was a rental building owned by Dai Yen Chang, a retired dentist and former member of the Honolulu Board of Supervisors (which later became the City Council). Chang was elected in 1926, the first full-blooded Chinese to be elected to the board.

We rented an apartment in the building from 1969 through the middle of 1978, and for part of that time our assigned parking stall was right in front of the barber shop. So it was natural to start going to Ms. May, who owned the shop at the time.

It was a comfortable spot, close to home, and made it part of my less-than-fastidious haircut schedule.

It’s been through only a couple of ownership changes.

When May retired after a few years, the business was bought by Arthur and his wife, Jean. That was sometime before 1978, when the building went condo and all the tenants moved out. Then, about 10 years ago, Art retired and the space was purchased by Leila, who formerly operated a barber shop in Chinatown. I rode through each transition.

And here I am, nearly 47 years after my first haircut in the building, still taking my business to the same place.

I tell myself that it’s like this in island communities. Mobility is limited, and people retain ties to their neighborhoods and their neighbors.

In any case, while there in Kaimuki this morning, I took a few pictures in honor of this long history.

History in Kaimuki

History in Kaimuki

History in Kaimuki

Local news: Half the product, twice the price

In a column on the Nieman Lab blog last week, Ken Doctor refers to an earlier observation that “we’ve just about reaching the point (“The halving of America’s daily newsrooms”) where we’ll have half the number of daily journalists working as compared to 1990.”

He then looks at some of the details of that decline in journalism.

Doctor offers the opinion that while the largest national newsrooms are likely to survive the digital transition, he fears for the future of local news and, in turn, democracy (“The financialization of news is dimming the lights of the local press“).

Among many biting comments:

While national/global news companies have cut their newsrooms, they have still maintained sufficient capacity to make their news brands valuable in the digital age. It’s not just the numbers of journalists: It’s a good mix of veteran experienced journalists who know their beats deeply and younger journalists, still early in their careers but natively more digitally inclined.

At the local press, it’s a different picture. As newsrooms have halved, older, experienced journalists have been disproportionately made to feel redundant, and then made sent off. The main reason: money. Older journalists earn more of it, and their cutting makes short-term financial sense.

The result: a disaster whose death spiral seems to be accelerating. When I’ve given talks, I’ve gotten a lot of nods from people in the industry when I show one single slide: A two-liter bottle of Coke selling for $1 next to a one-liter bottle priced at $2. That’s essentially what local publishers have done in product and pricing of print over the last five years, doubled the price and halved the product, a halving that, of course, carries through to their digital offerings.

Any company that disrespects its own products, and those who produce them, probably deserves its eventual fate.

He looks at several cases, The Independent (UK), now going all digital; The Las Vegas Review Journal, bought out and now firmly under the political control of Sheldon Adelson; the Philadelphia dailies, now being turned over to a nonprofit foundation; and the adventures of Tribune Publishing and it’s expansion in Southern California.

In any case, a very interesting column that’s will be worth your while to spend some time reading.

And then, also from Nieman Lab, different ideas of the future (“Brain food: Here are 15 smart people talking for 5 minutes each about journalism’s future“).

I’ve just started to watch/listen to these short snippets. If you’re interested in news, and the news media, check them out.

Hilton Pier deal continues to raise questions

The Star-Advertiser’s Rob Perez and Dana Williams teamed up again for some good reporting on month-to-month revocable permits issued by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, providing use of public land for sometimes nominal rents “under a program that operates with no formal rules and is limited by law to temporary, month-to-month uses,” (“Some in the community are alarmed by the loose limits placed on using DLNR land“).

I was particularly interested in the mention of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which leases the submerged land under the pier fronting its Waikiki complex, giving it sole control of activities that utilize the pier.

The Star-Advertiser reported:

Hilton Hawaiian Village, for example, is paying the state $405,192 annually — the highest amount of any lessee in the program — to rent a tiny sliver of submerged land beneath the pier it owns in the lagoon adjacent to its Waikiki resort.

Yet the concrete structure is not temporary, raising questions about its compatibility with a program intended for temporary, month-to-month uses.

“It is the state that selects the leasing methods for public land,” said Jerry Gibson, area vice president of Hilton Worldwide, in an email to the Star-Advertiser.

The DLNR officials, asked about the the multiple permits for piers and docks, said the agreements are being converted to a type of easement, “but this is an ongoing process that will take time to complete.”

Hilton has been renting the .09 acre of submerged land on a month-to-month basis since the late 1950s.

While working as an investigative reporter for the former Star-Bulletin, I wrote several stories about the Hilton pier lease between 1996 and 2000.

The first story in the series, published 20 years ago in February 1996, reported that Hilton paid the state about $28,000 to lease the pier during 1995, but in turn subleased it to Atlantis Submarines for $435,000. It was a great deal for Hilton, which earned a whopping profit.

A later story updated those figures:

Land records show Hilton was paid a total of $1.3 million during 1995 and 1996 for the Atlantis sublease, but paid the state less than $60,000 in rent during the same period….The hotel had most recently been paying a monthly rent of just $3,485.

The state then moved ever so slowly to reexamine the lease and it seemed it was moving to offer the lease at a public auction.

The $435,000 that Hilton took in for subleasing the pier to Atlantis in 1995 is equivalent to about $630,000 in current dollars when corrected for twenty years of inflation. That means its current lease payments continue to look like a pretty good deal.

When I wrote my last story I wrote back in 2000, it appeared the lease was going to be auctioned to the highest bidder.

Instead, according to the current series, it reverted to a month-to-month revocable permit granted without any competitive bidding. There’s obviously another story to be written about how that sleight of hand move was accomplished.

Anyway, here are links to my earlier stories on the pier.

Hilton Pier Controversy–series

  • Hilton and state feud over Waikiki pier lease. Atlantis paid the hotel $435,000 last year, but state got only $28,000.
    Feb 28,
    1996
  • State moves to let Hilton keep pier lease. The hotel subleases the Waikiki pier at a substantial profit, but Officials of the
    Department of Land and Natural Resources have taken behind-the-scenes steps to allow the Hilton Hawaiian Village to
    retain its control. Apr
    25, 1997
  • The land board considers ending the profitable, exclusive permit. Hilton pier lease may be offered to bid. The state Board
    of Land and Natural Resources could put an end to more than three decades of special treatment for the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
    May 8,
    1997
  • Land board hikes Hilton’s fees for pier. Voyager Submarines says it will take the lease if Hilton doesn’t want it. Hilton
    Hawaiian Village General Manager Peter Schall says he’ll have to examine a decision by the state Board of Land and Natural
    Resources. Jun
    25, 1997
  • The sweetheart lease deal ends for the pier fronting the hotel. Hilton pays up. The sweetheart deal is over for the Hilton
    Hawaiian Village, which for years has paid the state a nominal lease rent for exclusive control of the landmark pier fronting the
    hotel on Waikiki Beach.
    Sep 24, 1997
  • Hilton Pier could go to top bidder. February
    14, 2000