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Maui’s Kaanapali Beach Resort pioneered the concept of a Hawaii master-planned resort decades ago. Conceived in 1959 with golfers in mind, it introduced Royal Lahaina Resort as a private beach club in 1962, followed in 1963 by the debut of Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, the area’s first full-service resort.
Today, under the umbrella of Kaanapali Beach Resort Association (KBRA), the northwest Maui destination comprises 13 visitor accommodations, two shopping centers, two 18-hole golf courses and a myriad of activity providers.
Kaanapali draws 500,000 travelers annually, and most of its U.S. mainland clientele comes from the West Coast. To maintain the area’s allure, Kaanapali properties — which range from moderately priced to high-end — have invested millions of dollars into upgrades, while retailers, restaurants and activities keep pace with travel interests and trends.
Shelley Kekuna, executive director for KBRA, shared her thoughts with us about Kaanapali’s staying power and how travel agents can best sell the destination.What’s the secret to Kaanapali’s continued success?Location, location, location. With its beautiful natural setting, it was a favorite leisure spot for Hawaiian kings, and what was good enough for the royals is good enough for us. This desirability factor is palpable when you visit the resort area today.
We have an amazing mix of accommodations. Everyone gets the same fantastic sandy beach, crystalline waters, shopping, dining and activity options, but there are choices when it comes to the style of places in which people can stay. There is something for everybody.
What type of traveler is best suited for a Kaanapali vacation?Kaanapali is an active destination, which makes it perfect for clients who like to engage with their surroundings. While lazing on the beach or the various pool decks is always available, guests can work out, go for a run or try ziplining or scuba diving — all in one day. And that's before a magnificent sunset and dining at world-class restaurants.
Honeymooners love Kaanapali because of its romantic pastimes, including spa treatments, private dinners and sunset cocktail cruises. It's also great for multigenerational travelers, thanks to the many family offerings and fun kids’ clubs.How is Kaanapali responding to today’s top travel trends?Authentic experiences are high on clients’ lists these days. Each of our properties has a cultural advisor or center to introduce our visitors to the importance and richness of their surroundings.
As eco-conscious travel grows, many of our properties have done away with plastic straws, and all are selling reef-safe sunscreen. We have LEED-certified resorts, and many accommodations feature landscaping with native or endemic species.
Clients interested in voluntourism can take part in hands-on experiences in one of our local valleys that is being returned to its ancient ways of community living.
For foodies, our culinary options range from takeout to beachside dining. In addition, we are the Maui location for the annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. While hosting, our resort chefs work shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best chefs in the world.
How is KBRA helping U.S. mainland travel advisors sell Kaanapali to their clients?Our recently upgraded website offers a wealth of information and gives agents a direct portal to all our properties and businesses. It features an active calendar with events that appeal to most anyone.
We promote Kaanapali through television, radio, giveaways and chef exchanges with restaurants in other cities. We are constantly building destination awareness through these efforts, so when clients contact their agents, they already know they want to go to Kaanapali.What's new and exciting for Kaanapali in 2019?In 2019, we're ready to unveil renovated properties, new restaurants, new parking areas, new porte cocheres, reimagined luxury villas and suites, new attractions and updated menus. As Maui's first master-planned resort, we will always work hard to provide refreshed and fun experiences for our guests.The DetailsKaanapali Beach Resort Associationwww.kaanapaliresort.com