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Editor's note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, TravelAge West is encouraging all readers to stay at home and do their part in flattening the curve. This includes travel to Hawaii. We hope that the information in these stories will help readers stay up to date for when it’s once again safe to return to Hawaii.
As clients muse about future trips to Hawaii, travel advisors can keep their interest levels high by sharing what’s new and improved around the state.
Following are five Hawaii works in progress sure to generate excitement among prospective visitors. Designed to freshen the islands for returning guests, they’re creating a buzz for their respective destinations.
AC by Marriott Maui Wailea While this all-new hotel will draw a range of travelers, it will likely hold particular appeal for the millennial and Gen Z markets. Lures will include the AC Lounge, a coworking space by day and social hub at night. Also on tap are an oceanview bar curated by an award-winning chef/sommelier/mixologist, and a backyard featuring an infinity-edge pool, lounge seating and live music.
Set slightly above the seaside resorts of Wailea, the 110-room property will provide easy access to the area’s restaurants, retailers, golf courses and beaches. Each unit comes with a private lanai and either mountain or Pacific Ocean vistas.
A spokesperson for the developer says the current plan is to open AC’s doors in time for the 2020 holidays.
Damien & Marianne of Molokai Education Center (Oahu)Hawaii’s two saints, Damien De Veuster and Marianne Cope, dedicated their lives to caring for the residents of Kalaupapa, a remote Molokai peninsula where sufferers of leprosy were banished starting in the late 1800s.
An upcoming $6 million attraction on Oahu promises to honor the compassion and sacrifice of those selfless saints. During a visit, clients will see rare artifacts; browse compelling historic photos and interactive displays; and hear recordings of the actual voices of Kalaupapa’s people. They also can take time to reflect on and find inspiration in the building’s chapel, which is patterned after Damien’s church on Molokai.
Housed in a new structure on Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue, the center will be extremely accessible to travelers who are staying in Oahu’s popular tourist mecca. Check the website for the latest on its opening date.
Hawaii Wildlife Discovery Center (Maui)Kaanapali’s one-time Whale Museum is going through a sea change. Located in the oceanside Whalers Village retail and restaurant center, the museum — which formerly focused on whaling history — is broadening its scope to showcase the marine environment as a whole. It’s only appropriate, since Kaanapali Beach borders one of 13 national marine sanctuaries in the U.S.
Dubbed the Hawaii Wildlife Discovery Center, the 5,000-square-foot attraction will emphasize education, using interactive displays to encourage eco-awareness. Whalers Village is teaming up on the project with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Construction has slowed due to the coronavirus, but ideally the launch of the center will coincide with the 2021 whale season, according to Christopher White, senior general manager for Whalers Village.
Kaanapali Beach Hotel Renewal (Maui)This venerable northwest Maui hotel is in the midst of a renaissance it calls Kealaula (“light of early dawn, glow of sunset”). Its $65 million upgrade includes redesigned guestrooms, which will be modernized while retaining a sense of place.
In addition, the 432-room resort will create Huihui, a 5,000-square-foot oceanfront restaurant themed around Hawaii’s traditional paddling and sailing canoes. A refresh of its courtyard is also in the works.
“The project reflects and respects the Hawaiian culture and supports our Pookela (excellence) programs that have been ongoing for more than 30 years,” said Mike White, general manager for the property.
According to a hotel official, some of the renovated accommodations are estimated to be back in service starting in October 2020, with a December debut for Huihui.
Koloa Rum Expansion (Kauai)Having recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, Koloa Rum has announced a major expansion. Plans call for the construction of a new 45,000-square-foot distillery and warehouse along with a tasting room, store and cafe, which will tentatively open in early 2021.
Fittingly, the headquarters makes its home in Koloa town, where Hawaii’s first successful commercial sugar production operations began in 1835. As part of the expansion, the company is refurbishing old plantation camp structures for a museum that will tell the story of the region’s rich sugar history.
“We are actively partnering with local farmers to increase sources of cane sugar on the island with the goal of one day being able to use only Kauai-grown cane in our products,” said Bob Gunter, CEO of Koloa Rum.