“Hawaii is a popular venue for the American Dental Association, and we are thrilled to return here for its great warmth and hospitality,” says Robert Skinner, DDS, 2009 chair of ADA Sessions. He is promoting the association's 150th Annual Session, at the Hawaii Convention Center, September 30 to October 4, which is expected to draw 40,000 attendees and help offset some of the slowdown in tourism to the islands.

Joe Davis, SMG general manager of the HCC, is glad to have the ADA back, especially this year. He says that although the meeting is based in Honolulu, the rest of the state will benefit from the “overflow effect,” as most attendees and their families will be extending their trip to visit neighbor islands.

The ADA isn't alone. The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry had 1,500-plus attendees in Honolulu in March for a three-day meeting, and the Society of Uroradiology met for five days on Maui.

Alas, a reasonably priced ferry that would carry passengers, cars, and all manner of goods was just too good to last. The Hawaii Superferry suspended operations in March after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that a state law allowing the Superferry to operate without a complete environmental impact statement was unconstitutional. The company has left open the possibility of returning to service if the state does an EIS and approves future operations.

The USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu remains open while a new visitors center is being built to include a second theater, which will decrease the two-hour waiting time to view the historical film and sail to the memorial atop the sunken USS Arizona. Officials expect the project to be finished by December 2010.

Facilities Update


  • In January, the Royal Hawaiian hotel celebrated its reopening by hosting an inaugural ball for the state's favorite son, President Barack Obama. After renovations, the hotel's Moorish exterior is still defiantly pink with turquoise accents, while the use of pink has been toned down inside the hotel.

  • Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has completed a $28 million renovation of its 605 Kealohilani Tower guest rooms. The 1,310-room resort also earned its fourth EPA Energy Star award for green practices. Three ballrooms and seven meeting rooms accommodate up to 5,000 guests.

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa has invested more than $11 million renovating its Tropics restaurant and opening a new luau on Waikiki Beach. A seventh tower has also been added to the 2,860-room resort; the 331 Grand Waikikian units will primarily be condos and provide rental suites to groups seeking residential-style accommodations. The property has more than 150,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

  • The Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio has an 8,033-square-foot grand ballroom on the third floor that can accommodate up to 550 people. Or, it can be used as trade show space or to host a banquet. The new Kauai Room and a new boardroom are on the second floor.

  • The Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber completed an interior remodel in February, part of a $21 million renovation, with the addition of a pool and Jimmy Buffet's at the Beachcomber restaurant and bar.

  • In November 2008, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts broke ground for its first Hawaii resort, at Ko Olina next to the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort.

  • In January, the 1,695-room Sheraton Waikiki opened a second-floor convention center that includes Oahu's largest ballroom, part of a $200 million renovation that provided a makeover for 14 smaller conference rooms.


  • On Kaanapali North Beach, the Honua Kai Resort & Spa will be opening in phases between 2009 and mid-2010 and is offering rooms from $195 — 50 percent off published rates. Maui's latest resort opened its Hokulani Building with 318 one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites in January 2009, and another 310 suites in the Konea Building will open in spring 2010.

  • At The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, a $180 million transformation has remodeled 463 guest rooms and added a 17,500-square-foot spa. The project was capped off last October by adding eco-activities with Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program. Twenty-seven function rooms accommodate up to 2,500 people.

  • The 780-room Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa has invested $50 million in upgrading its guest rooms and six restaurants. The resort has also redone 22 banquet rooms, meeting rooms, and boardrooms, including the 28,000-square-foot Haleakala Ballroom.

Big Island

  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in March with 85 percent of former staff returning and room count reduced from 310 rooms to 258 larger rooms. Also open is a new spa, and the Mauna Kea Golf Course has been completely renovated with a new clubhouse and restaurant.

  • In December 2008, Four Seasons Hualalai opened its $7 million spa expansion with a focus on Hawaiian healing.

  • The 1,240-room Hilton Waikoloa's new Dolphin Quest Village opened in 2008 as the highlight of the resort's $100 million renovation project.

  • The 460-room King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel is in the midst of $35 million in renovations. The West Tower is expected to be completed by July 31 and the East Tower by the end of this year. The hotel is upgrading its lobby, 5,200 square feet of meeting space, and guest rooms.


  • The 121-room Koa Kea Hotel & Resort opened an extensive multimillion-dollar reconstruction in April, replacing the Poipu Beach Hotel almost 17 years after Hurricane Iniki destroyed it.

  • The 252-room Princeville Hotel and 27-hole Princeville Makai Golf Course are expected to reopen in October as the St. Regis Princeville Resort. The posh resort will have 12 meeting rooms, the largest 6,616 square feet in area.

  • The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas opened in April 2008 on Kauai's north shore. The resort features 173 two-bedroom villas, four pools, three whirlpools, a two-story clubhouse, a restaurant, a general store, and a fitness center. Bordering the property are two championship golf courses, The Prince and The Makai.

Trip Tips

  • Hawaii CVB has provided groups a comprehensive, island-by-island list of environmentally responsible and energy-saving programs initiated by resorts and hotels. www.businessaloha.com Also, find a list of Hawaii-based experts who can serve as speakers for your event. And the Hawaii Free List details 100 activities in the islands that planners can incorporate into meeting itineraries to save on costs.

  • On the Big Island, parts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are still closed due to fog created by the plume from the Kilauea volcano, which remains a great photo opportunity. Outside the park, lava continues to create new land from the sea, and a nighttime viewing area in Kalapana is open to visitors. Call the Lava Hotline for daily updates: (808) 961-8093.

Ask the CVB

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau(888) 424-2924

Big Island VCB
(808) 886-1655

Kauai Visitors Bureau
(808) 245-3971

Maui VB
(888) 918-8444

Lanai VB
(800) 947-4774
(808) 565-7600

Special Venues

  • Jimmy Buffet's at the Beachcomber, a 500-seat restaurant, opened recently on the second floor of Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. Private space can be cordoned off on the lanai and Buffet's place is adjacent to the new Honolulu Surfing Museum. Dinner is served inside the restaurant from 11 a.m. — and live entertainment is onstage seven nights a week. (808) 791-1200, www.jimmybuffettsatthebeachcomber.com

  • With its convention center, the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island has 235,000 square feet of top-notch meeting, pre-function, and exhibit facilities, including extensive outdoor areas like the Kona Pool (see photo, page 39). The pool lends itself to a dramatic reception or buffet. (808) 866-1234, www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com

HCC's Big Carrot for Groups

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood, the Hawaii Convention Center is offering “50 roundtrip airline tickets, $50,000 in destination support, $50,000 in global outreach and attendance marketing, $50,000 in hotel credit, and 50 percent off the convention center's rental fee.” All this is available to groups with 3,000 attendees (or 1,500 peak room nights) for meetings booked by the end of 2009 for the years 2011, 2012, 2016, or 2017.

In this difficult recession, the Center has attracted more than 24,000 international attendees to events in Hawaii in 2008. It has expanded business conference attendance by more than 10 percent by pairing international associations — mostly in Japan, South Korea, and China — with their U.S. counterparts holding events in Hawaii.