Tom’s Tips

One hotel executive is helping the Island of Discovery live up to its name

By: Marty Wentzel

LIHUE, Kauai “Excuse me, Tom?” A woman tapped Tom Bartlett on the shoulder during our breakfast at the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I need your advice. Where’s the best place for our group to eat dinner in Poipu this evening? There are six of us, and we’d love some place casual but with an ocean view.”

Bartlett looked thoughtful, asked for a few more details, then confidently proposed Brennecke’s Beach Broiler to the guest, who beamed at the idea.

As Radisson Kauai’s sales and marketing director, Bartlett is a highly visible face around the hotel. He clearly relishes such one-on-one interactions with clients, not to mention their travel agents, and his easy-going manner fits well at the congenial oceanside property.

A longtime Hawaii resident, Bartlett settled for good on Kauai in 1995. Two years ago he came up with a flyer for his guests called “Tom’s Tips,” listing some of things he loves most about the island.

“With 350 rooms here, I can’t possibly talk to everyone who stays with us, but I’d feel terrible if they missed out on places on Kauai that are what I call ‘Wow’ experiences,” Bartlett said.

Among the must-try foods on his list are the seared ahi at Koloa Fish Market, and wonton soup at Hamura’s Saimin. Couples celebrating a special occasion should ask for table 9 or 39 at Gaylord’s restaurant, said Bartlett. An avid canoe paddler, he raves about swimming at Hanalei Bay, and he confesses to a weakness for the chocolate souffle at Roy’s restaurant.

Calling Kauai the Island of Discovery, Bartlett views his hotel’s eastern location as perfect for island day-trippers, because it’s centrally situated between attractions to the north, south and west of the island. That in mind, he has nicknamed the East Shore “Kauai’s Right Side,” a double-entendre that’s likely to show up on hotel brochures.

Bartlett said he knows he’s doing his job right when he looks out to an empty hotel parking lot during the day.

“There’s so much to see and do on Kauai, and I want people to head out and explore it,” he said.

Sure enough, however, like winter waves to the North Shore, the cars come back to the Radisson Kauai each day by 4:45 p.m. That gives guests just enough time to attend the hotel’s nightly complementary cocktail reception, torch-lighting ceremony and live Polynesian Show from 5 to 6 p.m.

“We wanted to give something special to each guest,” Bartlett explained, “but instead of providing everyone with a free breakfast, we decided on a cocktail party. People just naturally prefer to socialize in the evening. It’s a chance for clients to meet each other and swap stories.”

Bartlett calls his hotel “relaxing and comfortable,” a trait that’s attracting small conferences and company gatherings.

“Groups are one of our most lucrative pieces of business,” he said. “The groups we get are rate-conscious, so it’s helpful that we’re Kauai’s only moderately priced property with meeting space.”

Radisson Kauai provides 24,000 square feet of function areas, backed up by a variety of audiovisual support. It’s the only hotel on Kauai with high-speed Internet access in all of its meeting rooms, and it’s installing wireless Internet access into all guestrooms by the end of March.

As a perk for leisure and group guests alike, the Kauai property is adding Radisson’s signature Sleep Number beds throughout 2005. The new beds let guests adjust mattress firmness and support by pushing a button.

Among its services for groups, the Radisson Kauai can create a link from a client Web site to an air/room package booking engine, Bartlett noted. He encouraged Western travel agents who are interested in cultivating group business at the Radisson Kauai to call him for suggestions.

As Bartlett shares his love for the island with his guests, he wants to be an equally valuable resource for his partners in travel. His message to agents:

“E-mail me, and I’ll do everything I can to provide your clients with a room upgrade and homemade brownies,” he said. “Oh, and make sure you ask us to put a copy of Tom’s Tips in their room.”

The Details

Radisson Kauai Beach Resort
4331 Kauai Beach Dr.
Lihue, HI 96766-9159
(for Radisson Kauai’s Tom Bartlett)

For 2005, Super Saver rates range $199-$259 per night. Paradise Rates for 2005 are $259-$359, with suites $459-$799, including daily breakfast buffet for two, fifth night free and guaranteed upgrade for honeymooners and seniors.
All rates include a nightly cocktail hour, torch-lighting and Polynesian dance show, airport transfers and shuttle to Kauai Lagoons and Wailua golf courses.
Value-added promotions for 2005 include a five-night honeymoon package from $249 per night, including arrival champagne, daily meal credit and two spa treatments.
A room-and-car-only package starts at $184 per night.
Radisson Kauai pays 10 percent commission to travel agents.

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