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Kauai CallingFebruary 19, 2007 By: Camie Foster Travel Agent
The same elements that make
a natural for honeymooners and for families make it a good choice for many of
your other clients as well.
"You can't beat Kauai for its beauty and natural
surroundings," says Jack Perkins, co-owner of Travel Planners, an agency
AL. "There are all sorts of things to do. Whether it's kayaking on the
biking, I'd feel very comfortable recommending activities to clients."
Perkins is among the more than 120
Visitors Bureau's destination-specialist program, which brings groups of agents
Although he was aware of the range of activities available
on Kauai before his training, Perkins says, spending time on
opened his eyes to how beautiful the island is and the quality of what's
available to his Kauai-bound clients.
Although some activities like zip lining and hiking can be
more rigorous, Perkins notes,
something for every age group, whether it's a sunset catamaran ride or a visit
to one of the island's horticultural gardens.
families and for couples seeking a low-key honeymoon destination. "
around, easy to drive, and great for a peaceful week's vacation." It also
works well for people making a repeat visit to Hawaii and those who want a
two-island vacation—the caveat with the latter being that they stay in the
islands at least seven nights, or even 10 nights or two weeks if their time and
been changing in the area of upbranding," says Sue Kanoho, executive
director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau. The upgrades themselves, plus the
marketing by the properties, provide a synergy with the bureau's own marketing
campaigns, she adds.
stronger than ever," Kanoho says. "The demand for what our island has
to offer has increased." She notes that
diversity of activities, sights and lodging appeal to many segments of the
Indeed, many segments of
visitor industry have been burnishing their offerings. If it's been a while
since you or your clients have been to
you'll notice that a lot of upgrading has been taking place.
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
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
Starwood's two properties on
the Sheraton Kauai Resort and the Princeville Resort, also are in line for
significant upgrades over the next couple of years. In fact, as part of its
phased $24 million renovation, the Sheraton Kauai received the brand's first
installation globally of the "tropical" design, one of the five new
lifestyle guest room designs.
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
scene is the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa. This upscale oceanfront
condominium project, developed at a cost of $200 million, opened in December.
It will add a 4,000-square-foot Aveda lifestyle spa in June; treatments already
are available in-suite and at three poolside cabanas.
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.
diversions, activity operators continue to expand the breadth and depth of
choices available to travelers.
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
navigate to a password-protected site specifically for travel agents; follow
the "travel trade" link. There, they can order collateral materials
and obtain specific island updates not provided on the general site. "It's
designed to give the travel professional an extra edge to enhance the
experience of their clients," Horner explains.
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 [email protected] 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
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.