The state that saw its hospitality business tank most quickly after September 2001 was among the first to recover — and come roaring back. Hawaii in 2005 was near or at capacity with almost 7.5 million visitors, the islands' best year ever. Hotels intend to make the best of the good times, so rates and surcharges are up, and planners looking to squeeze in a few unexpected qualifiers at the last minute might find there is no room at the inn.
Hotels and resorts are following an increasingly popular trend of remodeling and repositioning themselves to target more affluent guests. This is especially true in areas such as Waikiki and the Kohala Coast, where there is no more room to build. Instead, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on rehab projects.
An increasingly popular alternative to hotel-based meetings is meetings at sea. Incentive cruises too are trendy, and company execs are discovering that business-related cruises offer convenience and some economic advantages over land-based meetings.
One is the package deal. Cruise operators can roll airfare, lodging, audiovisual, planning, entertainment, food, and even taxes into one price tag. Norwegian Cruise Line, Hawaii's largest cruise operator, is able to combine a tropical cruise environment with corporate and individual tax deductibility for meeting expenses, because NCL Hawaii has two rare U.S. — flagged ships in its fleet. The Pride of America's entire top deck is dedicated to conferences and meetings. Launched last year, the ship has boardrooms for 10 people and an auditorium for 260. The Pride of Aloha also offers meeting facilities. Another nautical development, the Hawaii Superferry, is on track for a 2007 launch. The Superferry will be able to transport 900 people, 200 cars, and 15 trucks between Oahu and Maui or Kauai in three hours.
The Waikiki Beach Walk (with 90,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants, an entertainment plaza, and outdoor venues) involves the redevelopment of almost eight acres of land. The $460 million project is expected to be complete next year.
A $60 million upgrade planned for the Wailea Beach Marriott is under way.
Waikiki Parc, a 297-room boutique hotel in central Waikiki, will undergo a complete renovation to be completed by November.
The investment company that owns Turtle Bay Resort is planning to expand on oceanfront property at Kawela Bay — a secluded bay on the North Shore — in accordance with an agreement reached with the city in 1986 to eventually build 3,500 additional hotel and condo units. The agreement includes provisions for a hotel at Kawela Bay, which is adjacent to Turtle Bay. The Pacific Rim Conference Center at Turtle Bay has more than 31,000 square feet of event and pre-function space.
The Radisson Waikiki Prince Kuhio plans to complete its $12 million room renovation by December.
The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa has completed a $16 million renovation of its guest rooms.
Four Seasons Resort Lana‘ i at Manele Bay has completely redone 236 rooms and suites and added a new fitness center.
Coco Palms Resort, the last of Kauai's hotels to come back after 1992 Hurricane Iniki, is finally being rehabilitated. The $220 million project is expecting a grand opening in 2008.
The Big Island
The Fairmont Orchid has unveiled its Fairmont Gold Floor and a private Gold Lounge. The hotel's outdoor Spa Without Walls includes new waterfall massage houses and oceanfront massage cabanas.
Waikoloa Beach Resort will open the $95 million Queens' Marketplace and Cultural Gardens, a 28-acre retail and entertainment center, in early 2007.
Ask the CVB
Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
(888) 424-2924, (808) 923-1811
Oahu Visitors Bureau
(877) 525-6248, (808) 524-0722
Maui Visitors Bureau
The Island of Lanai
Molokai Visitors Association
(800) 800-6367, (808) 553-3876
Big Island Visitors Bureau
(800) 648-2441, (808) 961-5797
Kauai Visitors Bureau
Promotional items such as Hawaii logo pens, stickers, and lapel pins may be obtained free by planners to promote a meeting. Visit www.sharingaloha.com/promoitems.atm.
If your group will be connecting through Honolulu to a neighboring island, remind everyone to check their baggage claim tickets. If tickets read HNL, luggage stops there and will need to be hand-carried to a connecting flight. Bags checked to the Big Island will read ITO or KOA. Those checked to Kauai will have the letters LIH; claim checks that read OGG go to Maui.
The low humidity in an airplane during a long flight can increase allergy or asthma symptoms. Attendees should pack medications and inhalers in carry-ons.
Avoid a session with a Hawaii Plant Quarantine Inspector. Don't bring fresh fruits or vegetables, cut flowers or plants, rooted plants or cuttings, seeds or bulbs, live seafood, or any other living item.
Clothes needed will be casual summer resort wear unless your group is hosting a formal event. Warm clothes will be needed only if groups will be going to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the summit of Mauna Kea, or to Maui's Haleakala National Park.
Here's a challenge for any group's most enthusiastic golfers: King Kamehameha the Great walked the trails of the 20-mile shoreline of the Kohala Coast on Hawaii's Big Island. Today, his route is still dotted with ruins of ancient temples, although it is also home to modern resorts. Golfers can walk pathways once reserved for Hawaii's royalty on the Kings' Golf Trail. Six championship-quality courses have connected the footpaths, beginning with the Mauna Kea Golf Course and moving 108 holes along the coast through the Hapuna Golf Course to the North and South Mauna Lani golf courses to the Waikoloa Kings' Course and, finally, the Waikoloa Beach Course. Players who complete all six courses receive a special certificate. www.gohawaii.com/bigisland/golf/kingstrail.aspx
On the slope of the Big Island's Mauna Kea, the Imiloa Astronomy Center opened in February. The $28 million, 40,000-square-foot exhibition and planetarium complex tells the stories of the Mauna Kea volcano and of the Hawaiian voyages of discovery that led people of many cultures to the islands. Funded primarily by NASA, the architectural design of three huge titanium-covered cones represents the volcanoes of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. The cones are a highly visible landmark. The meeting space and facilities are available for private events. www.ImiloaHawaii.org; (808) 969-9705