Don’t ask what’s new along the Kohala Coast. Instead, a better
way to sell the destination is to stay on top of what’s the
That’s the word from Sharon Sakai, spokesperson for Kohala Coast
Resort Association (KCRA), the Big Island-based marketing
organization whose membership encompasses the resorts of Hualalai,
Waikoloa Beach, Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea. Accommodations include
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kona Village Resort, Waikoloa Beach
Marriott, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and
Bungalows, Fairmont Orchid, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and Mauna Kea
“Our resorts and hotels are constantly refreshing themselves,
making sure they offer guests a consistent level of amenities and
accommodations,” said Sakai.
In the past year, clients have been noticing upgrades up and
down the coast, including Mauna Lani Bay Hotel’s addition of
10,800-square-foot Hale Aloha (House of Friends), the flagship
space for large meetings and events. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
opened an oceanview lounge, and it refreshed its guestrooms with
new beds, fabrics, hand-knotted rugs and woven bed throws. Hilton
Waikoloa Village revamped all indoor ballrooms and meeting
facilities and refurbished its trams and canal boats. Fairmont
Orchid Hawaii adopted an integrated approach to the environment,
with housekeeping switching to botanical cleansers and landscaping
transitioning to organic methods.
In the coming year, the Kohala Coast is welcoming two new
commercial centers called the Shops at Mauna Lani and Queens’
Marketplace at Waikoloa.
“Each will offer guests a wider range of choices for shopping
and dining,” said Sakai. “The Waikoloa facility will have the added
attraction of a cultural garden and outdoor amphitheater.”
Agents should also be on the watch for the completion of
renovations at Waikoloa Beach Marriott, which is redesigning all of
its guestrooms, adding a spa and ballroom, incorporating an adult
swimming pool and creating a freestanding restaurant at the edge of
the property’s historic fish ponds.
According to Sakai, all of these improvements should appeal to
travelers looking for a luxury resort experience.
She added that KCRA is always looking for emerging marketplaces
of affluent travelers, targeting the cities from which domestic
This spring, sales managers of KCRA hotels will head to Phoenix
to support the inauguration of direct service to Kona by America
West and US Air.
In June, KCRA visits Atlanta, the starting point for Delta’s
service to Kona and then on to Denver.
“While we’re on the road, we try to meet with as many of our
travel professionals as possible, hosting receptions, making sales
calls and visiting reservation centers,” said Sakai.
Since its inception in 1984, KCRA has tried to create programs
that improve business conditions along the stretch of coastline,
from just above Kona International Airport in the south, to Mauna
Kea Resort in the north. For instance, it has blazed trails with
its airport greeter station.
“Each of the hotels has a desk to greet and assist its arriving
guests, every day,” explained Sakai. “None of the other
destinations in Hawaii provide this service at the airport.”
KCRA also participates in efforts to enhance the infrastructure
of the island to meet the needs of visitors and residents.
As it enters its 22nd year, KCRA continues to promote the
“Our guests like the fact that they can be as relaxed or as busy
as they choose,” said Sakai. “Our resorts are spread over a 20-mile
stretch of coastline on the leeward side of the island, which means
clients are almost guaranteed sunshine there’s less than 10 inches
of rain a year while the Pacific Ocean laps at their toes. The
landscape is uncluttered by high-rises or billboards. We have
beautiful, sandy beaches and great watersports, as well as golf,
spa and award-winning dining experiences.”
Most of the area’s visitors venture out to explore the diversity
of the Big Island. Sakai suggests that travel agents pitch the
Kohala Coast to discriminating, experienced travelers who
appreciate quality accommodations and service, a wide range of
amenities and genuine aloha spirit.
Kohala Coast Resort Association