A Greener Quest

Hilton Waikoloa’s Dolphin Quest gets a significant upgrade

By: By Marty Wentzel


Dolphin Quest
Hilton Waikoloa Village

The new Dolphin Quest Village at Hilton Waikoloa Village is now LEED-certified. // (c) Dolphin Quest
The new Dolphin Quest Village at Hilton Waikoloa Village is now LEED-certified. 

Hilton Waikoloa Village’s new Dolphin Quest Village isn’t just bigger and better than its predecessor, it’s greener.

Open since April, following a seven-month, $6 million development project, the attractive complex was designed to enhance and personalize clients’ dolphin encounters. What’s more, it is certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), earning the U.S. Green Building Council’s stamp of approval for its sustainability.

Snuggling up to the lagoon where 11 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins live, the new facility features three individual buildings connected by breezeways and weathered wooden decks. It welcomes clients with a cedar and lava-rock veneer facade, thatched roofs and accordion-style shuttered windows.

Thanks to thoughtful design and planning, the building’s energy demand has been reduced through efficient heating and air conditioning, natural ventilation, the use of sunlight to reduce electrical dependency and water-conserving fixtures in the restrooms and showers. Officials estimate that Dolphin Quest Village consumes 30 percent less water and uses 20 percent less electricity than a comparable conventionally designed building.

"We are happy to report that we have enjoyed an increase in the numbers of guests who book encounters," said Dolphin Quest Village general manager Adrea Gibbs. "We have more people walking up to our center to inquire about programs and learn more about our dolphin residents. Our operation is so much more efficient now, with the check-in and exit
areas right at the lagoon, whereas before the check-in was quite a distance from the lagoon."

With approximately 3,955 square feet, the village consists of several elements, including an Encounter Club, essentially a lounge area for guests. It boasts an interactive touch pool and a 200-gallon aquarium showcasing Hawaii’s treasured native species. In another area awaits the Learning Center, a comfortable classroom setting with unique books and specimens, where Kids Quest program participants learn about conservation and the marine environment.

Other Dolphin Quest Village features now include a new changing area with showers; updated photo-viewing stations; and a retail shop with gifts designed by Hawaii artists, recycled products and Dolphin Quest logo items.

Dolphin Quest Village provides non-encounter participants more viewing areas, including a large lanai that overlooks the lagoon. The lanai complements the grassy hillside, already a popular spot for onlookers. Additionally, the structure better facilitates group functions, evening programs and special events.

"Dolphin Quest Village provides a completely new and unique space for guests to host their private events or functions, such as corporate events," said Dolphin Quest marketing coordinator Jessica Sessions. "Groups can enjoy cocktail receptions overlooking the dolphin lagoon. They can dine on the lanai while enjoying a breathtaking dolphin show."

The village also creates a memorable location for wedding receptions, she added.

Since 2008 is Dolphin Quest’s 20th anniversary, the resort is presenting special dolphin shows on the 20th of each month through the end of the year. The shows feature dolphins splashing and leaping to a high-energy soundtrack, trainers demonstrating their talents, fascinating dolphin facts and the announcement of monthly contest winners.

Free and open to the public, the 30-minute shows are held at 5 p.m. at the Dolphin Quest lagoon.

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