Hilton Waikoloa Village offers planners a wide range of meeting and entertainment options in an expansive oceanside complex that nonetheless provides plenty of opportunities for groups to experience the resort as their own.

Just 18 miles from the Kona International Airport on the Big Island’s sunny Kohala Coast, with direct flights from Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, and Chicago, the Hilton Waikoloa boasts the most hotel meeting space in the Pacific outer Islands—some 250,000 square feet in ballrooms, exhibit facilities, promenades, boardrooms, and outdoor venues. This includes a convention center with 60,000 square feet of function space in 21 meeting and banquet rooms.

As for guest rooms, there are 1,240 in three towers, each with its own pool complex, so groups booking all or part of a tower will feel as if they are within their own resort. Linking the towers is a mile-long covered walkway featuring an amazing 1,800-piece collection of Asian and Pacific art. For those who don’t want to stroll, Swiss-made trams and mahogany boats provide alternative transportation along the resort’s lush waterways.

On a recent press trip, our group enjoyed a fabulous dine-around, traveling from three of the resort’s nine restaurants via boat. On our last night, we had front-row seats for Legends of the Pacific Luau, a fresh and professional performance in a dedicated venue that serves delicious Hawaiian food for audiences of up to several hundred.

One of the highlights for our group was a dolphin encounter at the hotel’s Dolphin Quest educational center, where we got into the water with the dolphins and experienced first hand just how special these creatures are. Needless to say, the Dolphin encounters would be an incredibly popular option for meeting groups and their families.

There is plenty of shopping within the Hilton Waikoloa, but plenty more in the surrounding Waikoloa Beach Resort complex, featuring two large outdoor shopping and dining areas. Meeting groups can also choose to stay at Kings Land, the newest Hilton Grand Vacation Club resort. The 112-acre self-contained complex is located between two of the state’s finest golf courses, Kings Course and Beach Course. Convenient shuttles link hotel, shopping, Kings Land, and golf courses.

And if that is not enough for your group, the Waikoloa Bowl at Queen’s Gardens is an open-air venue along the Pacific Ocean that can seat 5,000 people, and has hosted performances by groups such as Earth Wind and Fire, the Beach Boys, and Journey.

Of course, there are the attractions of the Big Island itself. We toured Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site, in an excellent expedition led by Hawaii Forest & Trail, one of the oldest and best-established guide companies on the island. Groups have wonderful touring options on the Big Island, from Kohala Waterfall excursions to an evening atop the magnificent Mauna Kea for unparalleled stargazing.

The Big Island of Hawaii is the most ecologically diverse of all the Hawaiian islands, with natural environments ranging from desert plains to rain forests. There are numerous archeological sites and everywhere reminders of the ancient Hawaiian culture that is believed to have originated on this island. Attendees can truly have an in-depth experience of Hawaii on the Big Island.

According to Debi Bishop, general manager of the Hilton Waikoloa Village, 65 percent of the hotel’s group business is in corporate incentives, with medical meetings and national associations also strong markets.

“With 1,000 employees, we are the largest employer on the island,” she adds. “We have a staff that is truly dedicated to making sure we deliver the very best program for our guests and meeting groups. It’s a way of life for us.”