It’s a tropical oasis on Waikiki Beach with waterfalls, exotic birds and palm trees, a hotel that has hosted everyone from U.S. presidents to Michael Jackson. Now, it has an unwanted guest: mold.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village, one of the largest hotels in the world, has closed guest rooms in the newest of its six towers and is spending $10 million to clean out a potentially dangerous mold. Toxic molds have caused similar problems at homes, hotels and government buildings nationwide. Exposure can cause nasal and eye irritations or more serious reactions in people with chronic illnesses such as asthma.
“Mold is everywhere,” said Bernadette Burden, spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There is no particular area of the country or any particular state where you will not find mold.”
Consultants identified the grayish mildew in the Kalia Tower as belonging to the group of eurotium mold, Hilton officials said. As many as 300,000 species may exist, according to the CDC, and it grows particularly well in warm, humid places.
The Hilton opened the $95 million Kalia Tower last year as a symbol of a revitalized Waikiki. Now all 453 guest rooms are closed indefinitely in the tower, representing 13 percent of rooms in the hotel complex. Peter Schall, senior vice president and managing director for Hilton in Hawaii, said no guests reported any health problems. The hotel closed rooms as the mold was discovered, but the finding wasn’t announced publicly until the tower was closed July 24.
he other towers have been examined for mold and have been cleared, Hilton spokeswoman Karen Winpenny said.
“I’m shocked,” said hotel guest Dina Bensen of Palo Alto, Calif. “Nobody said anything about it. Sure I was concerned, but as long as they don’t put me in this one, I’ll be fine.”
By JAYMES SONG, Associated Press