America's 50th state is a perennial favorite with meeting and incentive groups for myriad reasons: the legendary beaches (like Waikiki, pictured), the warm and vibrant Hawaiian culture, world-class meeting venues, palm-fringed resorts and a fascinating history.
BIG ISLAND NEWS
• The 252-room Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, has joined the Historic Hotels of America consortium. The resort was built in 1965 by Laurance Rockefeller.
• The Hilo Naniloa has been reflagged as the Grand Naniloa Hotel--a DoubleTree by Hilton. The 388-room hotel, with 13,000 square feet of meeting space, recently completed a head-to-toe renovation.
The Hawaiian language contains 13 letters-- A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, W -- and the okina ('), which is considered a consonant. The kahako or macron symbol (--) is placed over a vowel to prolong the sound.
• The 371-room Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina has opened at the Ko Olina resort on the island's western coast. The property, the former JW Marriott Ihilani, had been closed since January 2015 while it was being renovated. The resort has approximately 78,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, including a ballroom and five function rooms, and 10 acres for outdoor events. Other amenities include five restaurants and lounges, golf at the Ko Olina Golf Club and the 35,000-square-foot Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre.
• In other Ko Olina news, the first U.S.-based Atlantis-brand resort will open there (no date has been announced). The 800-room property, which will be developed by China-based Oceanwide Holdings Group, will sit on 26 acres and include 524 residences, a waterpark and an aquarium.
• Hawaii's first Hyatt Centric branded hotel debuted last month in the former Waikiki Trade Center. The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach has 230 guest rooms, a lounge pool, outdoor seating with circular fire pits, a 24/7 fitness facility, a bar and restaurants.
• The 839-room Pacific Beach Hotel on Waikiki Beach is in the midst of a wide-ranging revamp. In January, the property unveiled its refreshed guest rooms; other enhancements taking place over the next new months include the addition of a new lobby bar, two signature restaurants by famed chef Masaharu Morimoto, a new pool deck with a saltwater infinity pool, and a new fitness center and spa. The centerpiece of the head-to-toe renovation is the new lobby Oceanarium Aquarium, which displays more than 1,000 protected species of marine life in filtered water piped in from the ocean. This fall, the hotel, which has 23,000 square feet of meeting space, will be renamed the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach.
• The 623-room Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach, the largest hotel yet for the brand, opened in June. The property is two blocks from Waikiki Beach and convenient to nearby shopping, dining and entertainment areas.
• Last spring, the 443-room, 800-acre Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore revealed expansion plans that will include a new 452-room hotel, two golf courses, a spa, horse stables and a golf clubhouse.
• This past summer, the 1,000-room Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki conducted a soft refresh of all 280 guest rooms on the top 10 floors of its Ainahau Tower. The upgrade includes new furniture, artwork and other decorative accents, along with fresh carpets, linens and mattresses.
RAINBOW IN A CUP
Hawaiian "shave ice" is a refreshing treat, imbued with colorful, flavored syrups. One Oahu landmark -- Matsumoto's Shave Ice
-- has been serving the local delight at it's North Shore shop since 1951.
The 200-room Residence Inn Maui Wailea -- the first of the extended-stay brand in the state -- debuted last September. The all-suite property has 1,760 square feet of indoor meeting space, including a 410-square-foot boardroom. Complimentary hot breakfast, WiFi and airport shuttles are offered.
Meeting Hotels: Properties include the 2,860-room Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort; 1,636-room Sheraton Waikiki; 426-room Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach; 359-room Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; 353-room The Modern Honolulu, and 311-room Ambassador Hotel Waikiki.
To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.
Convention Center: Hawaii Convention Center; exhibit space, 204,249 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 49. (808) 943-3500; meethawaii.com
Airport Transit: Honolulu International Airport, eight miles west of the Hawaii Convention Center. Transfer cost by taxi, $35
Taxes: Room tax, 9.25%; sales tax, 4.7125%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13.96%
Group Venue: Set sail at sunset aboard Atlantis Cruises' newest offering, the 150-foot Majestic. The cruise vessel, which departs from Waikiki, features two expansive air-conditioned decks with panoramic windows and high ceilings, plus a huge open-air top deck. Private dinners and receptions for up to 400 participants are accommodated. (800) 381-0237
Contact: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, (808) 923-1811