KOHALA COAST, Big Island Officials with the Big Island Festival are
fine-tuning this year’s event so that it provides more appeal to
clients, translating into greater selling power for travel agents.
The event, slated for Nov. 5-9, focuses on the diversity of the
destination through spa, fitness and healing workshops, farm tours,
culinary seminars and demonstrations, a golf tournament and gala
dinners. “While the 2002 festival was wonderful in terms of
showcasing the best of the Big Island, several important changes
this year will make it more visitor-friendly,” said Big Island
Festival director Kristin McGrath. “By simplifying and focusing our
programs, we are striving to make the event easier to understand
and participate in.”
For 2003, McGrath envisions a flawlessly run
participant-friendly schedule. “I want to showcase as many faces of
the Big Island as possible,” she said, “while significantly
increasing attendance and creating a solid core event that will
expand to include other areas of the Big Island in 2004.”
Last year’s festival drew 2,000 people. McGrath hopes to
increase that number to 2,500 this year.
A key difference between last year’s inaugural Big Island
Festival and the 2003 program lies in the logistics. More events,
especially daytime activities, are now centered at the festival
pavilion at Mauna Lani Resort. “This lets guests go to more events,
rather than traveling between resorts for programs at different
venues, like last year,” said McGrath.
A new offering called New Waves takes place at the Natural
Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, an aquaculture facility producing
upscale seafood like lobster, Dungeness crab, abalone and oysters.
On Nov. 7, daytime tours teach clients about growing, harvesting,
preparing and cooking aquacultural seafood. Later, a sunset
reception on the beach showcases top chefs and Big Island
McGrath said the Big Island Festival can provide travel agents
with effective tools for selling their clients on the destination.
“Part of the Big Island’s appeal is its relative lack of
commercialized tourist attractions,” she said. “Here, visitors must
seek out and explore. The festival offers visitors the chance to
learn about aspects of our island that would not ordinarily be as
accessible, whether it’s talking to growers of rare tropical fruits
and flowers, or exploring Hawaiian healing methods.”
The festival is geared toward upscale visitors interested in
gourmet foods and wines, people who want to learn about the Big
Island while being pampered in Hawaii’s most luxurious resorts, she
A Platinum Pass, which covers the main events, costs $325 per
person. It includes daily admission to the festival pavilion and
tastings, culinary seminars, the Nov. 5 opening reception at Kona
Village, the Nov. 8 Taste of Mauna Lani function and the Nov. 9 Big
Island Cook-Off. A $25 day pass admits clients to the pavilion,
seminars and tastings Nov. 6-8. A la carte events range from $25
for the cook-off to $105 for the opening reception.
Other Big Island Festival activities include winemaker dinners
at various Kohala Coast resorts; and the Chef’s Table, a
back-of-the-house culinary tour at Hilton Waikoloa Village followed
by a gourmet luncheon prepared by Food & Wine magazine’s Best
New Chefs of 2003.
Hotels are designing room-and-event packages in conjunction with
the event. The festival schedule is subject to change, so agents
should call or check the Web site for the latest info.