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.
The Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio has completed a $65 million renovation to all of its 601 guest rooms, 17,000 square feet of meeting space, and 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.
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 became the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort after an $18 million renovation. The resort has 13,000 square feet of indoor meeting space.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua will close 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 completed a $30 million renovation in mid-February.
The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection on Maui, has added yet another feature, one popular with attendees turning a meeting or incentive 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
Total Hotel Tax: 11.416%
Oahu Visitors Bureau
Kauai Visitors Bureau
Big Island CVB
(808) 961-5797; firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though Hawaii's hotel room rates keep rising, meeting planners can get a 50 percent price break on Hawai'i Convention Center space and a plethora of destination services if they book before the end of 2007.
The Hawaii VCB and SMG Hawaii, which operates the Hawai'i Convention Center, have joined forces to launch BusinessAloha.com, a Web site dedicated to supplying meeting planners with the information and resources needed to bring a group to the Hawaiian Islands.
Low-cost ATA Airlines will increase its flight capacity to Hawaii in June, adding daily flights between Oakland and the cities of Honolulu, Kona, and Lihue, and between Las Vegas and Maui.
To “see” before you commit to a Hawaii resort, go to www.wizardpub.com/main/home.htm and click on your island under “Resort reviews.” Aerial photos show how big a hotel or condo complex is and how close it really is to the ocean or busy roads.
Be ready for sticker shock in Hawaii, where just about everything costs more than on the mainland. Sunscreen, sunglasses, cameras and film, toothpaste, and meeting supplies should be packed in checked luggage and brought with you or sent ahead.
From Maui, arrange for your attendees to take in Molokai, a less developed island, with a cruise on the Molokai Princess and 18 holes of par-72 golf at Kaluakoi. It's a full day from 7:15 a.m. when the ship departs Lahaina Harbor until it returns golfers to Maui for dinner. A continental breakfast and picnic lunch are part of the deal. (866) 307-6524; www.molokaiferry.com
The Four Seasons Resort Maui is scheduled to open a new restaurant, Duo, this month. Prime cuts of beef, including Japanese Kobe, and fresh seafood will be served from an open kitchen. A private dining room in the gardens can seat 20 guests. (808) 874-8000; www.fourseasons.com/maui/dining/duo.html
There are numerous whale-watch excursions, many of which guarantee sightings and provide expert narration, during the late November to mid-April season. On Oahu, Wild Side Specialty Tours leave from Waianae Boat Harbor, A-11. Tours include marine biologists on the crew and take groups away from the major tourist activity. From outside Waikiki, (808) 306-7273; www.sailhawaii.com