GETTING TO THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII WILL BE EASIER THAN EVER as daily direct flights into Kona International Airport debut early next year. Starting January 7, Aloha Airlines (www.alohaairlines.com) will initiate nonstop and one-stop service from San Diego. The nonstop flight 486 will be offered three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The one-stop flight 486 via Lihue, Kauai, will operate four days a week: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tickets are already on sale.
Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com) is introducing daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Kona, effective June 5. The flight will depart LAX at 12:15 p.m. and arrive at 2:50 p.m.; on the return, it will depart Kona at 8:50 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 5:10 a.m. To celebrate the addition of these routes, Delta is offering a one-way fare of $299 (based on roundtrip purchase) for travel through August 5.
The Big Island's other airport is Hilo. A tip for agents: If you want to maximize your clients' time, suggest they fly into one airport and fly out of the other. This saves them time backtracking—just make sure you inquire about drop-off charges if they're renting a car.
All Sizes on the Big Island
The busiest time for hotels on the Big Island is during major holidays, as well as spring break. It's advisable to book a year ahead during those periods. Summer months can also be busy. The Ironman Triathlon in mid-October might not be on agents' radar, but keep in mind that hotels fill up quickly for the event.
If you have clients looking to immerse themselves in Hawaiian culture, consider sending them to Kalaekilohana (www.kau-hawaii.com), a B&B in a three-story, sugar-plantation-style house on the southeast side of the island. Kalaekilohana recently won a "Keep It Hawaii Award" for its commitment to Hawaiian culture.
"We try to give our guests an experience that's more authentically Hawaiian," says owner Kilohana Domingo, a Native Hawaiian and Smithsonian fellow. "We're teaming up with cultural practitioners in the community to expand our programs." Guests at the B&B can try their hand at lei making and weaving, and learn about traditional woodworking, Hawaiian massage, medicinal plants and spiritual healing. New Tours and activities on the Big Island
The B&B has four suites; all have lanais with panoramic views. Suites 3 and 4 have picture-perfect views of the sunrise and ocean, while suites 1 and 2 offer gazes of the sunset. Besides high-speed Internet access, each suite boasts a private bathroom with a large walk-in rain shower. Other need-to-know information: All four suites are priced at $169 a night; a full breakfast is served daily; and Kalaekilohana is a 90-minute drive from both airports. The travel agent liaisons for the inn are Kilohana Domingo and Kenny Joyce (email@example.com , 808-939-8052).
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (www.fourseasons.com/hualalai) has 36 bungalow-style buildings—each with no more than two floors and no more than eight rooms or suites. A nice touch is the lack of hallways; each room or suite has its own entrance.
The bungalows are arranged in crescent shapes, with four crescents along the shore and one crescent behind the green of the 18th hole; these rooms still afford ocean views. We hear some guests prefer rooms on the second level for their superior ocean views, while others opt for rooms on the lower level for their outdoor lava rock showers.
Deluxe Ocean Suites go fast. Three are located right on the beach, in one-story bungalows. Another one-story bungalow, next to a Hawaiian fish pond, is oceanview, not oceanfront. Rooms are sold by category, not room number, so if clients want oceanfront rooms, make the request when booking. Large families might want to opt for the three-bedroom, stand-alone Presidential Villa or any of the resort's One- or Two Bedroom Deluxe Suites.
For famished travelers, the resort's signature restaurant is the oceanfront, open-air Pahuia Pahuia, which also has two private dining areas for larger parties. A nice option for clans traveling together is the Family Dinner on the Beach, for five to 12 people, which includes a chef and server. A similar option is available for couples, a Romantic Dinner on the Beach, with a two-top table set out on the beach with candles, a private server and a three-course menu. To reserve, call 808-325-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hualalai Sports Club & Spa has nine outdoor massage hale (huts), including one for couples, and seven indoor massage rooms. The signature treatment is the Polynesian Niu (Coconut) Body Scrub. Agents can book treatments for their guests up to two months in advance by contacting the resort's spa director, Thad Calciolari (email@example.com , 808-325-8400).
For those agents whose clients plan to tie the knot, the resort has two catering managers that handle all wedding inquiries: Joseph Jaimes (808-325-8081) and Jennifer Gilles (808-325-8035). Agent Advice
This month, the Four Seasons is putting the finishing touches on a $2.2 million renovation of its Sea Shell pool, where 9,000 square feet of random-shaped glass pebbles of varying hues have been embedded in the walls.
There are two travel agent liaisons at the resort, sales managers Gloria Krier (firstname.lastname@example.org, 808-325-8005) and Leighton Kitagawa (email@example.com, 310-286-7545).
Hilton Waikoloa Village (www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com), about 18 miles from Kona International Airport, is a great choice for active guests and families. The resort has 36 holes of championship golf, tennis, an adults-only ocean pool, the Kona Pool featuring a 175-foot water slide, a seaside putting course, and the 25,000-square-foot Kohala Sports Club & Spa. The Dolphin Quest Learning Center offers exemplary opportunities to meet Hilton Waikoloa Village's resident bottlenose dolphins up close and personal.
The resort's Camp Menehune is open daily year-round with such activities as hula lessons, lei making and coconut painting for kids. Weekly Hawaiian cultural programs—such as hula lessons, Hawaiian chanting and conversational Hawaiian language class—are held for both adults and children.
Oceanview rooms in each of the three towers (Lagoon, Palace and Ocean) offer spectacular views of the Pacific, while Garden/Golf/Mountain view rooms have views of Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes. The Lagoon Tower's Cabana Rooms on the first level are a treat with walkout lanais that take guests directly to the Kona Pool.
Large families have the option of the Two-Bedroom Bay Suite, Two-Bedroom Royal Suite or one of the resort's five Presidential Suites. Each of the Presidential Suites (Duke Kahanamoku #7099, Iolani #5251, King Kalakaua #6251, Monarchy #7251 and Waiulua #6315) is approximately six times the size of a standard room (more than 3,000 square feet) with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. Suites have living and dining areas, kitchenette, sauna, bedroom and dressing areas as well as spacious lanais and spectacular ocean views. Keep in mind that the property also has 190 sets of connecting rooms.
Included in the resort's expansive Kohala Sports Club & Spa are three couple's massage rooms and a Seaside Cabana for al fresco massage, which is very popular, so book ahead. Another top option is the Hawaiian-style Lomi Lomi Massage. The resort encourages guests to book treatments at least two days in advance by contacting the spa director, Crystal Poe-Cababat (firstname.lastname@example.org, 808-886-1234, ext. 2829). The travel agent liaison for the hotel is Teresa Cosgrove, leisure sales manager (email@example.com , 808-886-2861).
All 310 guest rooms at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort (www.outriggerkeauhou.com) are receiving new carpeting, upholstery and lighting and redesigned vanities; free high-speed Internet access is also being installed. Although renovations are expected to take six months, guests should not be affected by the project, as the workflow will be isolated from occupied rooms.
As added perks, Deluxe oceanfront suites and one-bedroom suites at the Outrigger Keauhou have special features such as fireplaces, kitchens, a dining table that seats more than six, office and terrace. These categories usually get booked the earliest. The absolute best ocean views are One-Bedroom Suites numbered 201–206, 301–306, 401–406, 501–506, 601–606, 701–706. For families, standard rooms and one-bedroom suites accommodate up to four people; 155 rooms are connecting.
The Kalona Salon & Spa has two treatment rooms. Make reservations by contacting the spa's owner, Sharon Dewy-Fields (firstname.lastname@example.org , 808-322-9373). Names to know: For wedding information, contact Catering Coordinator Merry Coleman (email@example.com, 808-324-2554). For reservations and further information, contact Jeanning Aldrete, rooms division manager (firstname.lastname@example.org, 808-324-2512), or Annabelle Smith, director of sales and marketing, (email@example.com, 808-324-2509).