As Hawaii’s outer islands vie for business from groups large and small, they are promoting an array of attractive new programs, services and facilities. Following is some the latest news from Maui, Kauai and Hawaii’s Big Island with meeting planners in mind.
In Maui County, the Westin Maui Resort and Spa’s new Halawai Lounge can be customized for group events and banquets. Perched on the top floor of the resort’s Beach Tower, the function space sports spectacular views of Kaanapali Beach. In addition, on Sundays the resort has added fire-knife dancing to its evening guest gathering called Unwind, which takes place on the upper pool deck (866-716-8112, www.westinmaui.com).
Heli-golf is now available at the Four Seasons Resorts on Lanai. Golfers get birds-eye’ views of Lanai’s mountains and coastline, followed by 18 holes of play at either the Challenge at Manele or Experience at Koele course. Limousine transfers and refreshments round out the adventure (808-873-8687, www.heligolfhawaii.com).
Groups meeting on the Valley Island can make their events even more memorable with the help of legendary rocker and part-time Maui resident Mick Fleetwood. The founder of Fleetwood Mac offers a variety of musical and speaking engagements that can be tailored to corporate and private events (615-251-4400, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alii Kula Lavender is pitching luncheons, tours and special parties for small groups. With peaceful upcountry Maui serving as a picturesque backdrop, groups can create an event of distinction at the lavender farm (808-878-3004, www.aliikulalavender.com).
The island of Kauai has welcomed a new accommodation to its resort offerings with the recent opening of the Koa Kea Hotel and Resort. Set on the beach at Poipu, Koa Kea promises ocean views, spa treatments and a new restaurant whose executive chef previously worked at the renowned El Bulli restaurant in Spain. It’s billing itself as the perfect pre- or post-getaway option for the hard-working conference attendee (877-806-2288, www.koakea.com).
A Kauai-based company called Malie is promoting its beauty products as ideal gifts and VIP amenities. Malie’s products are infused with therapeutic local ingredients (866-767-5727, www.malie.com).
Just Live is giving groups on Kauai an extensive menu of eco-challenge tours and corporate team-building activities. Its outdoor adventures include ropes challenge courses, outrigger canoeing, rock wall climbing, hiking, kayaking and ziplining. Indoor programs are experiential-based and consist of initiative activities, cooperative games and low challenge elements (808-482-1295, www.justlive.org).
On Hawaii’s Big Island, meanwhile, Waikoloa Beach Resort has been pitching itself as a fully integrated meeting destination for large groups, with full-service accommodations, an abundance of meeting space, new shopping, dining and entertainment options, world-class golf and ocean sports, all in one location. A highlight is the new 28-acre Queens’ Marketplace and the Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ Gardens, with its daily Hawaiian cultural entertainment (877-924-5656, www.waikoloabeachresort.com).
The oceanfront Naniloa Volcanoes Resort, located in the Big Island town of Hilo, has renovated its guest rooms. Its refurbished Sandalwood Room and Polynesian Room, with tiki- and canoe-inspired décor and views of Reed’s Bay, offer groups a tropical setting for large functions (808-889-6336, www.hottours.us).
Ahu Pohaku Hoomaluhia (Sacred Stones) is the Big Island’s newest luxury property. The 60-acre eco-friendly boutique healing retreat features spacious grounds and a natural amphitheater for outdoor meetings (www.hawaiiislandretreat.com).
Meetings in Hawaii reward groups with stimulation and rejuvenation, but today’s economic climate is putting a damper on many plans. Hoping to turn dreams into reality, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) has come up with some cost-saving initiatives aimed at growing group bookings around the islands.
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During this time of unprecedented challenges for the visitor industry as a whole, Hawaii tourism officials have been gaining insight into the value of meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions to the state’s economy.
“We know for certain that groups still want to gather in the islands as they recognize both the professional and personal value of the Hawaii meeting experience,” said HVCB sales and marketing vice president Michael Murray. “Given the proper incentive, their interest is more likely to convert from a mere longing from afar to actual bookings.”
Armed with that knowledge, the HVCB has created the Added Value Resource Center (AVRC), an online tool with programs created specifically to give groups the incentive and opportunity to hold meetings in Hawaii. The site’s programs invite planners to be creative as they develop their Hawaii meeting itineraries.
“Our industry partners and island chapter bureaus really stepped up to help us design programs that are essential to making a Hawaii meeting experience successful in today’s economy,” said Murray. “Interest in the resource center has been exceptional, and planners are discovering all the possibilities to make Hawaii affordable and even more desirable for their next business meeting.”
Among the programs offered by the AVRC is Hot Rates, Hot Dates, which lets groups take advantage of special savings on accommodations and activities at resorts and hotels statewide. Planners shop online, then contact the properties directly for the deal that best fits the size, composition and special preferences of their group. This program is good for new business bookings only.
Also available through the AVRC is an initiative called Hawaii Free, which provides a listing of 125 complimentary activities throughout the islands. Planners can incorporate these adventures into their group itineraries and save on costs. On Oahu, for instance, they can take time out from business and visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor or participate in Hawaiian cultural enrichment programs at the Royal Hawaiian Center. On Kauai, HVCB suggests planners organize free group activities like hiking in Waimea Canyon and walking tours in the historic towns of Lihue and Koloa. Maui freebies with group appeal range from wine tasting at Tedeschi Vineyard to touring the Lahaina Whaling Center, while Big
Island lures include a visit to a macadamia nut factory and a hike to the Puako petroglyphs, rock carvings left by ancient Hawaiians.
“Groups can make the best use of their money and spare time by putting together a full schedule of free activities to enjoy our unique culture and way of life,” said Murray.
Another component of the AVRC, called the Hawaii Value-Added program, gives meeting attendees savings on purchases and pastimes in partnership with Retail Merchants of Hawaii and the Activities and Attractions Association of Hawaii. Many retail outlets are offering discounts of up to 20 percent, while others provide a free gift with a qualifying purchase. Among the list of participants are Aunty Lilikoi Passion Fruit Products, Blue Hawaii Surf, Crazy Shirts, Folli Follie, Hawaiian Moon, Hilo Hattie, Honolulu Cookie Company, Honolulu Harley-Davidson, Jeans Warehouse, Martin and MacArthur, Maui Divers Jewelry, P.F. Chang’s, Parker Ranch Store, Reyn’s and Tahiti Pearl Market. For activities, groups can purchase a special Gold Card for $15, representing a 50 percent discount off the regular cost of the card. Good for use by four people, the card opens the door to savings on a wide variety of adventures, from ATV tours to ziplining.
Fourteen Hawaii-based destination management companies are reaching out to groups with complimentary or value-added services available through the AVRC. Planners can request lei greetings for arrivals, increased staffing at no extra cost, gift baskets for VIPs and free entertainment. The offers vary by company and are based on qualifying factors like the number of attendees.
The AVRC’s Booking Advantage program allows groups with either a booked or planned meeting and a minimum 10 peak hotel room nights to select a complimentary product or service from a participating HVCB member. More than 100 bureau members are taking part in this program with a selection of cultural and made-in-Hawaii products and other specialized services.
At the same time, the AVRC presents a list of Hawaii-based leaders who can add meaning to a group meeting through presentations on contemporary issues involving Hawaii and the Pacific Rim. One featured speaker, Ramsay Taum, president of the Life Enhancement Institute of the Pacific, addresses such topics as Hawaiian healing and sense of place. Robert Retherford, from Honolulu’s East-West Center, covers scientific and population policy issues in Asia and the U.S., while Frank Haas, from the University of Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management, shares his marketing expertise and insights.
For groups with a green outlook, the AVRC shares a comprehensive island-by-island listing of environmentally responsible, energy-saving programs initiated by resort properties and activity providers.
“Our visitor industry does an admirable job with its eco-friendly business practices,” said Murray. We are letting planners know this to give them one more reason to book meetings in Hawaii.”
For more Hawaii meetings news visit TravelAgeWest.com/HawaiiMeetings.