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Whenever I'm with a group of travel agents and we're talking about Hawaii, someone inevitably asks "When is Hawaii going to start offering all-inclusive resorts?"
While I'm not a gambler, I'm willing to bet that the answer to that question is "Never."
Why? Just ask Julie Zadeh, managing director of travel trade marketing for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB).
“Hawaii is more than just a resort experience,” said Zadeh. “It is a place where people come to truly experience the destination. That means venturing away from the resort for unique, authentic experiences that allow visitors to connect with the local culture.”
Zadeh noted that more than 80 percent of Hawaii’s visitors rent cars, which means it’s easy to explore the islands and sample a variety of activities, attractions, restaurants and other tropical pastimes.
A la carte activities are easy to pre-book
Hawaii’s many activities invite clients to get off-property and create lifelong memories, whether it’s on a zipline adventure through a rainforest, a hike across ancient lava fields or a snorkel cruise accompanied by spinner dolphins. The islands offer everything from high-flying excursions by helicopter to undersea explorations by sleek submarine, all of which are easy for agents to pre-book.
History buffs who take time away from their Hawaii resort reap enriching educational rewards at such unique attractions as Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. Agents can book clients on tours of these and many other must-sees.
Nature lovers have a vast outdoor wonderland at their fingertips, from Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island to Waimea Canyon on Kauai and Haleakala National Park on Maui.
Discovering local culture is equally easy outside the doors of Hawaii’s hotels. Festivals and events take place year-round, celebrating the islands’ heritage with visitor-friendly music, arts, crafts and food. HVCB’s travel trade website offers a complete calendar of cultural happenings, island by island.
As for dining, why eat meal after meal at one all-inclusive when you can get a deliciously diverse taste of the islands outside the resort? The range of offerings is mouthwatering, from award-winning Hawaii regional cuisine restaurants to local favorites like mom and pop restaurants, snack shacks and shrimp trucks.
In addition, many hotels offer packages including full breakfasts, so guests can enjoy a hearty breakfast to start their day of exploring; then they can dine wherever they choose in the evening. Some hotels also provide food and beverage credits which allow guests the flexibility to use as they wish.
When only an all-inclusive will do
If clients still refuse to travel to Hawaii without an all-inclusive experience, agents can suggest that they book one of the luxury liners that cruise around the islands and provide accommodations, meals and shore excursions wrapped into one fee.
For a more intimate version of that concept, agents can book their clients on American Safari’s new interisland yacht cruises, where everything is covered by one rate.
Agents looking for attractive alternatives to all-inclusives in Hawaii can find great resources at HVCB’s travel trade website.