The islands of the Hawaiian archipelago are 2,300 miles from the mainland United States and span a swath of 1,500 miles of ocean, making them some of the most isolated places on Earth and adding to their glamour.

Oahu is the most popular island for large meetings because of the Hawai‘i Convention Center and the frequent airline connections to Honolulu International Airport. Beyond the convenience, almost everything is new again, or getting there, around Oahu's Waikiki Beach. There's a new Beach Walk, new shopping, new restaurants, and new and restored hotels. Honolulu is on an island with 100 miles of beaches, so it is not really like any other urban capital. For a reminder of Honolulu's place in the national culture, attendees will want a chance to see Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, the final resting place for 1,177 of the battleship's crew members who were killed December 7, 1941.

Also on Oahu, there is well-founded talk that the mouse with oversized ears will soon appear on the North Shore to cheer on construction of Disney's first resort that is not associated with its theme parks. Details are sketchy, but a Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announcement makes clear that the company expects to have an 800-room resort complex open by 2011. That announcement follows other North Shore developments, including a 16-story condominium-hotel with 400 to 500 units, and a 1,000-room Grand Ko Olina Resort Hotel & Spa on the North Shore. Clearly, the area is building on its hot reputation as a surfer's paradise.

With two elegant resorts and two championship golf courses, tiny Lanai gives Maui a run for its money in luxury. And, now that both resorts are owned by Four Seasons, teeing off at either or both of the golf courses is a breeze.

Oahu

  • The Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio has completed a $65 million renovation of all 601 rooms, 17,000 square feet of meeting space, and public areas. The renovation also added the MAC 24/7 restaurant.

  • Waikiki's pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel temporarily shut down June 1. The 528-room hotel is undergoing a seven-month, $110 million restoration that includes an $85 million upgrade to public areas and meeting space and a $25 million room renovation.

  • The Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber, a landmark hotel, has undergone an extensive makeover of its 495 rooms.

  • The Kahala Hotel & Resort is undergoing a $30 million upgrade of all rooms and meeting space and adding a new spa, which should be complete in 2009.

Big Island

  • Prince Resorts' Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island will reopen its golf course in November and its completely redone rooms and 58,000 square feet of meeting space in December after $150 million in renovations.

  • Renovation begins this spring on the historic King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel, to the tune of $25 million in planned work on the 460-room hotel in Kailua-Kona. It has 5,200 square feet of meeting space.

Maui

  • The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa has added a feature: Ho'olei at Grand Wailea shares all the resort's amenities and offers three-bedroom, two-story town homes. The Grand Wailea has 22 banquet, meeting, and boardrooms and the 28,000-square-foot Haleakala Ballroom.

  • The Outrigger Aina Nalu on Maui has finished a $30 million redevelopment. The Lahaina condominium resort's 188 two-story units have been refurbished.

  • The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua has reopened after a $160 million transformation of its 445 remodeled guest rooms and suites. The Ritz-Carlton Spa, opened in May, has 15 treatment rooms.

Kauai

  • The new Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas on Kauai's north shore above Annie beach has 179 two-bedroom villas and a two-story clubhouse with meeting space.

  • Princeville Resort will close for seven months starting in September for a $40 million renovation. When it reopens in April 2009, the 252-room hotel will be renamed the St. Regis Resort, Princeville. It has 9,300 square feet of meeting space and two restaurants.

Trip Tips

  • Convention Television broadcast from the Hawai‘i Convention Center can make stars of your headliners by putting them on television in every delegate's hotel room. Of course, it can be used to announce program changes, share information among attendees, and maybe pay for itself by carrying messages from vendors and sponsors.

  • If your group has already seen Waikiki and you want to avoid the sticker shock of Maui, the Big Island may be your next destination. Most direct flights to Kona leave from Los Angeles and San Francisco — as well as Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Chicago.

Ask the CVB

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau
(888) 424-2924
www.meethawaii.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11.42%

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

Big Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
(808) 886-1655
www.bigisland@hvcb.org

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

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