The same elements that make
"You can't beat Kauai for its beauty and natural
surroundings," says Jack Perkins, co-owner of Travel Planners, an agency
Perkins is among the more than 120
Although he was aware of the range of activities available
on Kauai before his training, Perkins says, spending time on
Although some activities like zip lining and hiking can be
more rigorous, Perkins notes,
Indeed, many segments of
Examples include the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which is in the midst of a $10 million-plus doubling of its Anara Spa. When work wraps up by year end, the spa will have 45,000 square feet, including eight new treatment hale, two of them for couples; a Vichy treatment room, a relaxation hale, and a cardio hale for aerobics and yoga, says Katy Britzmann, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
Meanwhile, work is proceeding at the long-shuttered Poipu Beach Hotel, and it's expected to open within a year. Also, presales of villa residences have begun in the restoration of Coco Palms Resort. Plans call for a hotel component and a spa and the target completion date for the project is fall 2009.
Also receiving an infusion of attention and capital in a project that will span several years is Kauai Lagoons in Lihue. Master developer Kauai Lagoons LLC in October unveiled plans for a number of vacation homes and condominiums across a range of Marriott brands, some of them likely to be available for travel agents to book for their clients. Also on tap are an extensive spa, a marina, a restaurant and modification of several holes at Kauai Lagoons' two championship 18-hole golf courses. At the heart of the project is a navigable freshwater 38-acre lagoon that was created when development of what was envisioned as a mixed-use destination began about two decades ago.
Starwood's two properties on
Rising a notch last year was the oceanfront Kauai Beach Hotel, which was rebranded the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort in October following an $18 million upgrade. Work at the 350-room property spanned everything from refurbishment of rooms and public areas to the addition of such brand standard services and venues as a business center and executive club floor.
And brand-new on the
The property comprises 190 one- and two-bedroom suites and is geared to travelers looking for the experience and amenities found at an upscale resort in a low-key setting, says Tim Alex, director of sales and marketing for the Outrigger Condominium Collection. Thus, it's suited for independent travelers and repeaters, he notes.
Debuting a few weeks ago at Princeville Ranch Stables was a custom, private version of the company's guided Jungle Valley Waterfall Adventure, which combines hiking, freshwater kayaking, swimming and zip lining.
Chugging into action at the end of January was the Kauai Plantation Railway. Years in the planning, this new ride takes travelers through the historic plantation grounds.
There's been a continuing growth in interest among travelers for such perennials as heli-tours, hikes, horseback rides and cruises, but increasing numbers of visitors also are venturing farther afield with freshwater and sea kayaking, downhill bicycling and zip lining.
"If I were to identify a trend, it's been a growth in families looking for adventure," says Rick Haviland, owner of Outfitters Kauai. "There are fit, adventurous seniors seeking out activities and multigenerational family travelers." He says the company is working on new offerings, some in response to guest comments and requests.
A key point to remember when working with adventuresome clients is to book as many of their activities as possible in advance. The Kauai Visitors Bureau and activity providers note an increased awareness among travelers of the need to pre-book activities to avoid disappointment if no slots are available that mesh with clients' itineraries. "With the increase in cruise-ship presence, we are compelled to push for the pre-booking of activities and people are picking up on this," says Maile Horner, KVB travel industry sales manager.
More and more, say Haviland and other providers, it's become important to plan adventure activities ahead of time. That way, travelers don't miss out on their top choices; if they want to rearrange dates, they generally can do so with sufficient notice to the providers if space on the alternate date is available.
The Kauai Visitors Bureau provides both online and offline
support to travel agents. Retailers can visit www.kauaidiscovery.com
She adds that she herself is another tool available to retailers. "My position was designed specifically for our travel professionals," she continues. "I invite travel agents to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 808-245-3971."
Collateral agents can order includes the annual travel planner, pocket maps, itinerary maps, postcards and golf brochures, as well as posters and videos for the agency. The bureau also will continue to provide training in selected mainland cities this year, often in conjunction with trade shows.
The bureau is continuing with its on-island destination-specialist training for agents, and will operate four five-day sessions this year, Horner says. The bureau works with one wholesaler per trip; groups comprise up to 24 agents, accompanied by wholesaler staff. Another resource for agents is the Poipu Beach Resort Association. Agents can tap into specific information about the area at www.poipubeach.org; the agent section is devoted to preferred rates for retailers.