They came to town bearing chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and news of the island. Recently three women from Oahu’s tourism industry met with members of the press in Boston to update them on Hawaii happenings of interest to meeting planners and travelers.

Lynelle Miyashiro from Oahu Visitors Bureau's public relations department noted that while visitor numbers from Japan have not yet achieved pre-9/11 levels, domestic visitor numbers are strong--in fact, they are at a record high and continue to build.

Nancy Daniels, public relations manager for Outrigger Enterprises Group, announced that the new, all-suite Embassy Suites Hotel-Waikiki Beach Walk is now taking reservations and is on schedule for a January opening. The 21-story hotel will offer two towers of one- and two-bedroom suites (353 one-bedrooms, and 68 two-bedrooms). The fourth-floor Grand Lanai, connecting the two towers, will feature a sundeck and swimming pool, plus 2,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel is offering special introductory rates, on a space-available basis, through 2007.

Waikiki Beach Walk is the largest single development project to be undertaken in Waikiki in more than 30 years. It involves the redevelopment of 7.9 acres of land formerly occupied with aging, substandard buildings. Five existing hotels were demolished, along with two apartment hotel buildings, to make way for a new, low-rise, 92,000-square-foot retail-entertainment complex and four new or completely renovated hotel properties.

Slated to begin construction in early 2007 and to open in early 2009 is the hotel-condo Trump International Hotel and Tower Waikiki Beach Walk, which will feature 450 upscale apartments.

Meanwhile, at the 22-acre Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, construction of the Grand Waikikian, a 38-story timeshare and retail development, began in June. It will be operated by Hilton Grand Vacations Co., and is expected to be completed in late 2008 with 34 floors of retail, office, and guest amenity space. Plans call for 331 guest units.

Dara Young, public relations manager for Hilton Hawaiian Village, noted that the resort complex is the largest in Hawaii, with 3,386 guest rooms; more than 150,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, and three conference centers; and more than 90 shops and boutiques. The hotel now has a total of nine kiosks in the hotel and at Honolulu International Airport that can be used to check into the hotel or to print boarding passes for at least 18 airlines. Guests can also use the VCheck-in system, using a toll-free number up to 36 hours prior to arrival for credit card authorization and room assignment; the guest-room key package will be waiting on arrival.

Lynelle Miyashiro pointed to a few other Oahu happenings of interest to planners: The boutique hotel Aqua Waikiki Wave just finished a $7 million transformation and now features 247 guest rooms and free wireless Internet access.

The 404-room Wyland Waikiki–A Doubletree Hotel just opened its first tower in October, with its second tower scheduled to open this month.

The Ala Moana Hotel has completed renovations its 1,154 guest rooms and has a new lobby lounge.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa is scheduled to open its Stay Fit gym this month. The fitness center will be open 24/7.—Barbara L. Brewer