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Go Big and Go Hawaii

September 14, 2011 By: Deanna Ting Travel Agent



Hilton Waikoloa
Hilton Waikoloa Village has a Club Keiki children’s program, the room for which has been renovated.


Hawaii makes an ideal family travel destination and this is especially true of the Big Island, now officially referred to as Hawaii Island. In keeping with its former moniker, this island delivers a wide range of memorable and educational experiences for families.

“Our vast size, range of accommodations and the caliber of our family-friendly island attractions here on Hawaii, the Big Island, make this a perfect destination for family travel,” says George Applegate, executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “We were voted the No.1 island in Hawaii by readers of Travel + Leisure in the August 2011 issue, and number seven in the world.”

Lately, says Applegate, more and more families are also choosing to travel to Hawaii Island in multigenerational groups. “It works for the families on many levels. With multigenerational travel, the parents can break away for a romantic sunset dinner while the grandparents watch the keiki,” he says.

Hawaii Island hotels have taken full advantage of its charms and trends, developing innovative family-friendly programs and features that will have families coming back for more. Here, we examine a few that excel in delivering unforgettable family vacations.

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii: This 32-acre resort delivers value-added amenities. Kids under 5 eat for free and the hotel hosts complimentary daily hikes and arts and crafts activities. It also boasts a sheltered lagoon for safe snorkeling.

Children ages 5 to 12 can enroll in the hotel’s Keiki Aloha Adventure Program. Parents may also contact the concierge to arrange babysitting services with bonded staff members with a 24-hour notice. Nature-minded kids will get a kick out of daily honu (turtle) watching and weekly turtle talks held every Tuesday.

Active families can purchase an activities pass that provides full access to surfboards and boats, snorkeling gear, yoga, tennis and fitness classes, and more during their stay.

Best Room for Families: The Executive Suite can accommodate a family of five comfortably. It has a separate living room, with a foldout couch, that connects to another bedroom with two queen-size beds. Nightly standard rates begin at $289 per night.


Agent Advice

Hawaii travel specialist Susan D. Tanzman of Martin’s Travel & Tours in Los Angeles says it pays to look for value-added features. “With family travelers, I look for hotels that have family specials. Even the upscale hotels will have a second room at half price or a special deal for families. We try to find places that are going to add value to the travel experience such as a kid’s program. I always ask, ‘Is it really child friendly?’ Those kinds of things are very important.”



Hilton Waikoloa Village: This 62-acre oceanfront playground features an ocean-fed lagoon for snorkeling; a Dolphin Quest educational center where guests can swim with dolphins; a Club Keiki children’s program with a renovated club room and new programs featuring more outdoor, cultural and storytelling activities; and an 18-hole seaside putting course.

Through December 31, families can also book a truly feel-good stay at the Hilton with the Ocean Explorer Family Escape package. For each package booked, Hilton will donate 10,000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and match each contribution through 2011 to make children’s wishes come true. The package is priced from $264 per room, per night, for a four-night stay for two adults and two children. It includes a welcome amenity for kids, daily buffet breakfast and a glass-bottom boat ride. 

Best Room for Families: Big families would do well to book a stay in one of the Hilton’s newly renovated, two-story Naupaka and Nai’a luxury suites with fully equipped kitchens. Rates start at $219 per room, per night.

Outrigger Royal Sea Cliff: Families who want to have the comforts of home when they travel may prefer to stay at a condominium resort instead of a traditional hotel. Because these accommodations often have fully equipped kitchens and washer/dryer sets in every unit, families can save money on food and checked baggage fees while giving kids—and parents—much more space to roam in.

The oceanfront Outrigger Royal Sea Cliff offers four weekly complimentary activities that highlight Hawaii’s unique culture through entertainment (ukulele performances, hula, lei making, etc.), storytelling and movie nights.

Guests ages 5 to 10 who stay a minimum of three nights are automatically enrolled in the Island Explorer program and receive a free Island Explorer Kit with nature learning guides, a new pair each of binoculars and sunglasses and a new Island Explorer’s backpack. Rates start at $149 per night for a one-bedroom garden view condominium.

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa: What makes this property so family friendly is its ability to appeal to all members of the family, from young kids and teens to parents and grandparents. For kids and teens, there’s the resort’s massive waterslide and multilevel system of pools, including a sandy-bottomed pool area just for kids. Kids and teens alike can learn more about the resort’s resident manta rays by attending nightly manta talks, as well as take part in Hawaiian cultural tours and lessons.

The teens-only Club Le’ale’a boasts Xbox and Wii gaming consoles. Onsite family activities also include rubber duck races, poolside barbecues, poolside movie showings and s’mores, and storytelling around a shoreline fire pit.

This Starwood property also participates in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Kids’ Pass Program whereby SPG member’s children can eat and enjoy beverages at Kai & Sliders for just $15 per child, all day, every day.

Best Room for Families: Even the hotel’s Partial Ocean View rooms come with spectacular views, so clients can save money by booking this room category and requesting a rollaway or two double beds, in addition to booking two connecting rooms. Through December 23, families can avail of Book Now and Save rates that begin at just $129 per room, per night, double.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: This resort takes a hands-on approach to involving kids of all ages and their parents in learning about Hawaiian culture.

“We want to offer unique Hawaiian experiences for families, so when they leave Hawaii they will have a greater appreciation of the culture,” General Manager Bill Countryman tells Travel Agent. “Our Sunset Luau dinner shows give children the opportunity to learn hula and perform the dance as part of the show opener.

“In addition, families can hop aboard the Chef Shuttle to the local farmers’ market...where they can buy locally grown and harvested food and have it prepared at the resort for dinner.”

Best Room for Families: Corner Rooms are slightly larger than standard rooms, with a living/sitting area and balcony, and many can be connected to adjoining rooms. Rates are upward of $385 per night.



 Fairmont Orchid’s Executive Suite
The Fairmont Orchid’s Executive Suite, which can accommodate a family of five, boasts a separate living room with a foldout couch.


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By Deanna Ting | September 14, 2011
Hawaii makes an ideal family travel destination and this is especially true of the Big Island, now officially referred to as Hawaii Island. Travel Agent takes a look at some of the Big Island's best family-friendly hotels.