Oahu and Maui hotels have scored spectacular occupancy rates, in the 80 percent to 90 percent range, during the past two years. And the islands' popularity as a meetings and incentives destination has drawn the interest of the big hotel corporations and generated an explosion of new hotel building — and, where there is no room to build, the razing, upgrading, enlarging, and rebranding of properties. Outrigger Enterprises Group, long a local hotel company, started the trend by razing six of its tired properties in Waikiki and going upscale.

Waikiki Beach Walk, an eight-acre retail, entertainment, and hotel development, is taking shape. A dozen shops are open in the 93,000-square-foot complex. Also open is Hilton's new Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk.

On the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the new Pacific Aviation Museum opened in a World War II hangar that still wears the scars of December 7, 1941. The new attraction at the USS Arizona/Pearl Harbor Memorial, Hangar 79 holds restored vintage aircraft, interactive displays, a theater, and a restaurant like the one where aviators grabbed a quick meal before their missions or chalked up their hits afterward. Hangar 79 is dedicated to the Pacific battles of WWII, and Hangar 54, a future expansion, will focus on the Korean, Vietnam, and Cold wars.

The state has enacted a Smoke-Free-Hawaii law; however, hotels can designate up to 20 percent of their rooms as “smoking rooms,” but they have the option of banning smoking in the hotel entirely.

Hawaii/Facilities Update

Oahu

  • The Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio has completed a $65 million renovation of all 601 of its guest rooms, its 17,000 square feet of meeting space, and its public areas.

  • The Ala Moana Hotel has completed a multimillion-dollar renovation, updating all 1,154 guest rooms and 67 suites.

  • The Outrigger's Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk opened in January with 421 rooms and 1,965 square feet of meeting space. The hotel will be adjacent to the Trump International Hotel, which is expected to open in 2009.

  • Turtle Bay Resort has finished a $70 million renovation that included the construction of the 9,340-square-foot Kuilima Ballroom.

  • Starwood's June 1 rebranding of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider to the Westin name will coincide with a completed renovation of its 793 guest rooms, a lobby facelift, addition of a spa in the Surfrider Tower, and a Westin Kids Club.

Big Island of Hawaii

  • The 540-room Fairmont Orchid has been renovated. Included in the renovation were 18 meeting rooms.

  • Hilton Waikoloa Village will complete a $61 million capital improvement project in December.

Kauai

  • The Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa, with 153 two-bedroom suites and 37 one-bedroom suites, opened in December on Kauai's east coast.

  • The Kauai Beach Hotel & Resort, with 13,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, became the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort after an $18 million renovation.

Lanai

  • A second Four Seasons opened last November on the island of Lanai: The Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i, The Lodge at Koele. The resort, with 102 guest rooms and suites, is undergoing a $100 million enhancement program. A spa and wellness center will open in 2008.

Maui

  • The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua closed in July for a $95 million, six-month renovation. Room count will be reduced to 466. The hotel has nine meeting rooms.

  • The 463-room Royal Lahaina Resort has completed a $30 million renovation.

  • The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection on Maui, has added a feature popular with attendees turning a meeting into a family vacation. Surrounded by the ocean and the picturesque Wailea Blue Golf Course, Ho'olei at Grand Wailea shares all the resort's amenities and offers three-bedroom, two-story town homes with three and a half baths, modern kitchens, private lanai, and even interior elevators. The Grand Wailea has 22 banquet, meeting, and boardrooms, and the largest ballroom on Maui, the 28,000-square-foot Haleakala Ballroom.

Ask the CVB

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
www.meethawaii.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11.416%

Oahu Visitors Bureau
(808) 524-0722
oahu@hvcb.org

Kauai Visitors Bureau
(808) 245-3971
www.kauaidiscovery.com

Maui CVB
(888) 918-8444
www.visitmaui.com
www.mauimeetings.net

Big Island CVB
(808) 961-5797
bigisland@hvcb.org

For more information on meeting venues in the U.S., click here.