By Bob Andelman
Originally published in 2005
Hawaii is an ideal incentive destination because it is still viewed as a dream vacation by almost everyone in the world. And as the meeting point between East and West, its appeal has been sustained through political changes, economic upheaval and cultural evolutions. Paradise is like that – in perception and reality.
Sales-oriented organizations use Hawaii for inspiring winners and as a great reward for outstanding performance. Corporations come here from all different segments of the world; the top incentive categories making the trip are medical/medical equipment/pharmacy, financial services, insurance and automotive.
Hawaii boasts more than 70,000 hotels statewide. That allows most groups to find lodging within their budget. The islands attract first-class, no-holds-barred organizations as well as a great deal of budget-conscious SMERF groups thanks to a huge island military presence. Many student programs also come to Hawaii. Remember: No matter where you stay, once you step outside your hotel room, you’re in Hawaii.
“Hawaii is a great return on the investment,” according to Mike Murray, director of sales for the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau’s CMI division. “The appeal of Hawaii sets us apart. We’re part of the U.S. but we have an international flair. We’re also a testament to multiculturalism. Come to Hawaii and you feel you’re somewhere different but we’re part of America. That is comforting to U.S. companies who in the past have gone abroad but today want to be on U.S. territory.”
HOTEL & RESORT NEWS
Oahu: The 880-acre Turtle Bay Resort on the famed North Shore recently underwent a $60 million renovation, upgrading its 401-room hotel and 42 beach cottages… Doubletree Alana Hotel Waikiki unveiled a now look after a $2.9 million renovation… Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa completed the first phase of a $14 million renovation… JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa at Ko Olino invested $3.5 million in renovation and refurbishment… Ko Olina Resort & Marina announced a $1 billion interactive aquarium and 25-acre, 1,000-room resort… OHANA Hotels & Resorts finished a $5 million upgrade to the OHANA Waikiki West and another $5 million on the HANA East Hoel in Waikiki… Sheraton Moana Surfrider tower completed a $16.7 rejuvenation… Waikiki Parc Hotel upgraded its facilities in a $2.7 million refurbishment.
Molokai/Lanai/Maui: The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa on Maui completed a $2.3 million upgrade… Westin Kaanapali Resort Villas North on Maui is Hawaii’s newest resort and will open Spring 2007… Lanai’s Manele Bay Hotel completed a thorough renovation in June 2005.
Kauai: The 311-room Courtyard by Marriott Kauai at Waipouli Beach completed a multi-million dollar renovation… Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa is the new name of the former Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort, following extensive renovations.
ABC-TV’s surprise hit “Lost” calls the North Shore home and some filming has been done on the grounds of the Turtle Bay Resort. There’s a huge, beautiful banyan tree that provides a natural backdrop for outdoor partiers – “Lost” style. Waikiki’s Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel has also been seen on “Lost” and is famous for its role in the opening segment of another hit TV show: “Hawaii Five-O.” (808-586-2570, http://hawaiifilmoffice.blogspot.com/ )
Why do golfers love Kauai? It could be the Technicolor hues that the lush mountains and sparkling beaches provide as backdrops. Even if you haven’t yet visited the island, you already know it well from the palette of films as different as South Pacific and Jurassic Park. Golf architects such as Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Jack Nicklaus have left their mark on the island, causing the game’s enthusiasts to seek it out. In 2004, Golf Digest magazine rated the Prince Course at Princeville Golf Club as the state’s best golf course, along with Kiele at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club #4, Princeville’s Makai #10, Wailua Golf Course #12 and Poipu Bay Golf Course #14. So within about an hour’s drive, you can play five of Hawaii’s top 15 courses. (http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/unitedstates/hawaii/kauai.html )
RIDE THE WAVES… OR FILL YOUR PLATE
Hawaiian Fire Inc., on the island of Oahu, offers a surf school taught by Honolulu firemen. It tailors programs in the “Sport of Hawaiian Kings” for incentive and convention groups looking for something out of the box – full- and half-day surf lessons. Those are followed by an open pit fire for cooking and topped off with the fireman telling local history stories. “It’s very cool,” Murray says, “with the Wainaie Mountain Range as your backdrop. It’s an experience you won’t encounter anywhere else.” (888-955-7873, http://www.hawaiianfire.com/ )
For the less adventurous group, Gourmet Cooking Hawaii has partnered with 15 top restaurants on Oahu – including Chai’s Island Bistro, Chef Mavro and Sam Choy’s Diamond Head – for a special dining experience for up to 300 attendees. Each restaurant takes a group of 15 to 20 people and tailors a specific menu to the group – hands on. A premier chef will demonstrate three dishes as attendees themselves prepare and cook the food. During dinner, local wine companies talk about the wine being served and why it was selected. When it’s over, participants can receive a kit of food and wine and kitchen utensils as a takeaway. (808-735-7788 http://www.gourmetcookinghawaii.com)
WAIKIKI: EXTREME MAKEOVER
The revitalization of Waikiki continues unabated, with more than $1 billion in new construction and renovation projects underway. The Outrigger Hotel Corporation alone is spending $500 million to literally flatten some of its island properties and start over fresh. The entire Lewers-Kalia area is being redeveloped and will be completed in 2007. Waikiki Beach Walk will be energetic and inviting, eclectic and exciting, a leisure destination to play and to stay. An outdoor entertainment plaza, forty new retailers, four name brand restaurants, and four hotels will redefine the Waikiki experience. “When they do it, they do it right,” Murray says. “The dynamics of Hawaii has changed in terms of the clientele coming here. It’s a higher spending demographic and Outrigger is changing to meet that clientele.” (http://www.waikikibeachwalk.com/ )
BIG ADVENTURE ISLAND
Hawaii’s Big Island is an active adventure destination, one that offers excitement, diversity and Hawaiian culture. Home to Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the island has been adding new land for nearly 24 years. Its active “drive-in” volcano is the state’s most popular natural attraction. Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, when measured from its base, and as home to 13 of the world’s most powerful telescopes, Mauna Kea is about as close as a traveler can get to the stars without leaving earth. Other tips for incentive planners include planning exclusive waterfall or crater hikes on private land or an exclusive snorkel trip to Kealakekua Bay. You can also book a fleet of helicopters, view Kilauea Volcano from above and explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on a personally guided tour. (808.985.6000,http://www.nps.gov/havo/ )
Some of the spa treatments that are offered in Hawaii include Lomilomi Massage, Hawaiian Salt Glo Scrub, Plush Papaya Body Polish and Massage, Kahakai (Beach) Massage where guests can enjoy the tranquil, soothing sounds of the ocean waves as they experience a massage in a peaceful, relaxing beachside cabana setting. The ANARA Spa at the Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort and Spa, for example, offers a new Hawaiian-themed body treatment—the Polynesian Noni Wrap—an intense 80-minute treatment that combines a salt scrub, an herbal wrap, a Polynesian Noni Wrap and a 25-minute massage. Noni is a tropical fruit that is known as a natural anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory breathable sealant skin protector that lifts and tightens. (808-240-6440, http://www.anaraspa.com/packages.aspx )
LOCALLY FLAVORED GIFT BASKETS
Island Princess, a Hawaiian-based chocolate and macadamia nut company near Honolulu Airport, offers more than 50 different products for its customized corporate gift baskets. Signature gourmet items include: Mele Macs, roasted whole macadamia nuts coated in rich toffee and covered in milk chocolate with a sweet dusting of snowy powdered sugar; Macadamia Popcorn Crunch; Wasabi Macadamia Nuts: Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans; and Gourmet Flavored Macadamia Nuts such as Maui onion, sweet chili, curry, nori, honey roasted and lightly salted. (808-839-5222, http://islandprincesshawaii.com/)
GOTTA TRY A MAI-TAI!
It’s not the only exotic drink available in Hawaii, but the availability of fresh juices in the mix and incalculable variations on the theme keep the mai-tai in great demand. Some restaurants customize it with an unexpected twist of orange juice or passion fruit; others with a dollop of liqueur. (http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/May/11/il/il21a.html )
LUAUS ‘R’ US
Every group visiting Hawaii wants to experience a luau – especially those that are making return engagements. It may be hokey sounding but this is pure Hawaii; you can’t get a proper luau anywhere else. Expect imu pit cooking (underground), lots of high protein, starchy poi, rice and lomi-lomi chicken cooked over the fire with Hawaiian seasonings. And it’s not a great luau without an incredible hula show. It will all take you back to what Polynesians traditionally ate during a festival. (800-775-2683, http://www.paradisecove.com/ )
THE EVELYN WOOD GUIDE TO MAUI
Everything you need to know about planning a motivational trip to Maui follows: Top hotels include: Four Seasons Resort at Wailea, The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Grand Wailea Resort, Hotel & Spa, The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, The Lodge at Koele (on Lanai) and The Manele Bay Hotel (on Lanai)… Unique theme events: Aloha Beach Bash; Under the Hula Moon Luau; Hawaii Five O; Zen Party; Volcano Party; Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy)… What a planner can arrange that a tourist can’t: Have a CEO portray Hawaiian Royalty and be escorted by the King’s Guard; Customize a performance of Ulalena (stage production by Arra-Montreal) as part of a group outing; Dine on stage in the 1,100-seat Castle Theatre located at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center… Top restaurants include: Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar; Nick’s Fishmarket Maui; Hali’maile General Store; Roy’s Kahana Bar & Grill; Roy’s Kihei Bar & Grill; Waterfront; Pacific’o; Longhi’s; Kincha; Gerrard’s… Maui restaurants are sometimes challenged in accommodating large groups, so dine-around programs are often recommended… In an effort to protect and preserve the endangered Humpback whale, no thrill craft activities are permitted in Maui waters from December 20-May 20. This would include jet-ski, parasail and water skiing.
ONE YEAR-ROUND SEASON
There used to be shoulder seasons for Hawaii tourism and the six major islands when the hospitality industry dropped rates to lure bargain-oriented individuals and groups. That’s not so much the case any longer as the seasons have grown into each other. “There’s a huge demand for Hawaii because of its accessibility,” Murray says. “You can still find value in certain months but there aren’t the peaks and valleys we’ve had in the past.” Nineteen major airlines fly in, offering 600 weekly flights and more seats than ever before. (http://airports.hawaii.gov/hnl/, https://upgradedpoints.com/best-ways-to-fly-to-hawaii-with-points/)