Room for Savings

Hawaii’s hotels and resorts get competitive

By: By Karla Aronson

Hawaii Fall Value Vacations

Hawaii Fall Value Vacations IMGPlease visit our Guides & Brochures page to browse a full version of our Hawaii Fall Value Vacations supplement.

What a difference a few seasons make. A decent winter travel season in Hawaii at the start of the year helped fuel projections that spring travel would not experience any seasonal variations, though Hawaii’s overall visitor numbers were expected to be flat for the year. Yet, negative factors were arising even then: a departure in cruise ships; a weak U.S. dollar; and high fuel prices affecting everyone and, notably, the airlines, several of which collapsed.

It was not until May that the state’s total visitor arrivals by air turned negative on a year-to-date basis. At the half-year point, by June, the year’s decline in numbers looked uncomfortable at a 5 percent drop. Some of it could be attributed to rightsizing following several years of strong tourism gains. But the bigger picture of deepening negatives in the economy formed the bigger backdrop, particularly for lessening domestic arrivals.

Outrigger Reef on the Beach offers a $100 dining credit. // (c) Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
Outrigger Reef on the Beach offers a $100 dining credit.

For this fall, a traditional shoulder period, the Hawaii tourism industry has jumped into full marketing and education gear, especially for the accommodations industry. Hotels, condos and resorts are pulling out all the stops to offset some of the negatives and reach those yearning for a Hawaii vacation by offering them creative enticements to help them get there.

ResortQuest Hawaii holds a big stake in the industry, managing 26 properties statewide — ranging from hotels to condominiums to villas — with a 5,000 room inventory accommodating 1.2 million guests annually. Shari Chang, senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management, noted a record first quarter in 2008 followed by negative impact from the significant downturn in tourism business industry wide.

"The U.S. market does not look like it will turn around soon," she said, reflecting on everyone’s offers of special deals.

The condominium resort sector, in particular, has stronger value appeal for visitors.

"We hope to see some turn around in the economy in 2009. Our strategy is to emphasize the value that ResortQuest Hawaii hotels and condominium resorts offer," Chang said. "Hawaii is a great vacation value and even though airfares have risen, the added value and special discounts that our properties are offering result in a package price that is lower than it was at the same time last year."

Outrigger Enterprises Group also runs a large, multi-branded line of hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties across the state, as well as in the Asia Pacific and Oceania regions. Rob Solomon, chief marketing officer, openly concurs about the sudden drop off in business with the exit of ATA and Aloha Airlines
in April.

"What is a bit of a secret, however, is that reasonable airfares — and in some cases extremely attractive fares — are still available in most markets for all but the heaviest travel times," he said.

Entering the fall season, Solomon expressed the hope that September will be the low point in airfares for the year.

"Hotel prices have adjusted downward and there are great seasonal values available on all islands," he said.

Family travel may pick up in the fall after being somewhat sidelined during the summer.

"We have a very extensive menu of added value offers waiting for customers when they’re ready," Solomon said.

The message Outrigger wants travel agents to convey to clients is that the company offers a continuously improved product with values that are better than ever.

"[Clients] need help as their perceptions are worse than reality," said Solomon.

Tim MacDonald, president of Classic Vacations, a leading luxury wholesaler that started 30 years ago as Classic Hawaii, said that all providers are seeing some degree of softness in the market.

"What we are hearing is high airfare to Hawaii is deterring people from coming," commented MacDonald.

But, he said, people should not be turned off.

"Hawaii is as affordable — at the very least it is the same as last year, if not better — because of amazing specials," he said.

Looking at airfares, particularly off-season rates, shows they have gone up but not by that much, maybe by 25 percent, but not $500, he added. Some Classic Vacations packages have included airline discounts.

"Now, the place to go is Hawaii," said MacDonald, "when people look at the total price of a vacation, focus on value, and the land portion of the packages."

Overall, the company sells seven destinations — including Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia — and remains well aware of travel competition.

Classic Vacations is in a somewhat unique position, only selling the luxury segment, with a heavier skew toward affluent travelers. Still, he noted, its current three-star customers may have been buying four-star packages in past years.

"They may be buying down now," MacDonald said.

Looking ahead, the industry should expect more of the same.

"The environment we see right now will continue," MacDonald said.

Consequently, he noted that where promos in the past may have been concentrated in slower seasons, in today’s environment, the message of value and affordability must be touted all the time.

With the accommodations industry scrambling to offset restrictive airline prices, it has packaged together a number of land-based deals to ease visitors’ overall expenditures. They include free-night stays; room rate discounts; room upgrades; airline and gas credits and bonus frequent flyer miles; free and discounted car rentals; complimentary meals, appetizers, desserts and drinks; retail and resort credits; added amenities such as massages; and free activities, such as canoe rides and sailing. The value savings can total $500 and upward.


Big Island 

The Islands at Mauna Lani Mauna Lani Point
Classic Resorts
With the Gas on Us promotion, clients get a $200 gas credit and a fourth night free through Dec. 19. Rates start at $375 for Mauna Lani Point villas. The Islands townhomes start at $585 and also include a complimentary grocery arrival package.

Keauhou Beach Resort
Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
800-326-6803; 800-688-7444 
The resort is offering two great packages: the Stay 4 Pay 3 package and the Hot Lava package. The first offers nightly rates of $175 for a minimum of four nights, while Hot Lava features one entrance pass to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, daily buffet breakfast for two and two lava flow drinks per day. The Hot Lava promotion begins at $200 per night for an oceanview room, and an added rental car starts at $29 per day.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Classic Vacations
Classic Vacations is offering a tantalizing promotion at this beach getaway that includes daily buffet breakfast for two, every fourth night free and a guaranteed upgrade from a Garden View or Mountain View Room to an Ocean View Room. Clients can book four nights from $559 per person.

ResortQuest Waikoloa Colony Villas
ResortQuest Hawaii
ResortQuest Hawaii is luring clients to ResortQuest Waikoloa Colony Villas with a fourth night free and a Sweet Suite Golf for Two package. The package includes accommodations and two rounds of golf at the 18-hole Waikoloa Beach Course. Additional rounds are offered at a discounted rate.

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa
The Sunrise to Sunset Package welcomes guests with a breakfast buffet for two, sunset Mai Tais and rates that start at $215, based on double occupancy, while the Sunsational Savings Package boasts a third night free (in selected room categories) and daily breakfast buffet for two, beginning at $350 per night.


Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
Pleasant Holidays
Pleasant Holidays has arranged a value-packed offer for the five-star Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa. The package includes a fifth night free, daily buffet breakfast for two, a guaranteed room upgrade and hotel taxes. Prices begin at $1,709 and include airfare.

Sheraton Kauai Resort
The Malama Kauai Green Getaway package gives clients the opportunity to volunteer alongside local, non-profit environmental organizations. Participants will return home with a National Tropical Botanical Gardens logo bag and a book on history of Koloa Town. Rates start at $229.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Koele

Classic Vacations
Classic Vacations extends the Allure of Aloha package at these Four Seasons’ properties on the Pineapple Island. At Manele Bay, every fourth night is free in a Garden Room. Clients can book four nights from $749 per person. At the Lodge at Koele, clients get the same offer, but for $579 per person.


Maui Prince
Classic Vacations
Every fifth night free is free at this prime location. Clients will also receive a $100 resort credit and a guaranteed one category upgrade from an Ocean View Room to an Ocean View Prime Room. Rates begin at $819 for five nights, per person.

The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
Clients can get a fifth night free and daily buffet breakfast for two through Nov. 2 and from Nov. 30-Dec. 18 for rates that begin at $215. Also available is a Super Saver special through Nov. 21 and from Nov. 30-Dec. 18 that is combinable with other packages, beginning at $450.

Napili Kai Beach Resort
Fall Value Season specials include a fifth night free at rack rates, reduced seasonal rates from $270 to $460, as well as a fresh tropical flower arrangement. Specials are good through Dec. 20.

Outrigger Royal Kahana 
Part of the Outrigger Condominium Collection on Maui, the Outrigger Royal Kahana offers guests complimentary grocery store gift cards, up to $150, for each five-night stay. In addition, guests take home a complimentary eco-friendly tote bag. The limited-time offer is valid through Dec. 21.

Royal Lahaina Resort
The resort is offering Aloha Special Value Rates from $170 and $195. Also available is the Royal Rewards Promotion, including free room upgrade for a five-night stay, daily buffet breakfast for two and a Luau for two. Rates start at $215 and are valid through Dec. 22 with booking by Dec. 17.


The Kahala Hotel & Resort
Minutes away from the shopping and entertainment of Waikiki, The Kahala Hotel & Resort is offering a Kahala Legendary Days special that includes a fifth night free and daily buffet breakfast for two for published rack rates. The limited-time special is good through Dec. 20.

Outrigger Reef on the Beach
808-923-3111; 800-688-7444 
Here, guests can cash in on the Dining Package that includes a $100 dining or shopping credit, free parking and up to 1,500 HawaiianMiles (for use with Hawaiian Airlines. To qualify, guest must book a minimum four-night stay. Rates start at $195 per night and are valid through Dec. 21.

The Wyland Waikiki
This boutique property is offering a Hot Rates for Hot Dates promotion with special rates starting at $129 per night for a standard room and $179 per night for a one-bedroom suite. Guests can take advantage of a third night free, a free room upgrade and daily continental breakfast for rates that begin at $229.