Big Island

As we crossed into 2009, Hawaii’s Big Island saw a number of positive changes to its tourism offerings.


Deluxe Oceanview Room at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Long a favorite of travel agents, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel finally reopened its doors this past December following an extensive $150 million restoration. The 43-year-old resort—the flagship property in the Prince Hotels and Resorts International portfolio—suffered structural damage during an October 2006 earthquake. New amenities at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel include a spa; new culinary experiences stewarded by Executive Chef George Gomes; and newly refurbished guest rooms. The total room and suite count has been reduced from 310 to 258 as a result of rooms being enlarged in the main building. The resort’s Deluxe Oceanview rooms have been converted, utilizing the space of three rooms to create two, giving guests more living space and the best ocean views. Because of their proximity to the beach, pool and activities, rooms in the Plumeria Beach Club wing are a good recommendation for families. If you want to break the bank, advise your clients to opt for the Mauna Loa Suite or the Mauna Kea Suite (both $3,500 per night double).

SPA Mandara will be handling Mauna Kea’s spa. At press time, details of the spa’s operation and staffing were still being finessed.

Another new feature is monthly wine dinners by vintners with wines in Mauna Kea’s Enomatic serving system.

The resort’s Mauna Kea Golf Course received a comprehensive upgrade and redesign to USGA standards by Rees Jones, son of the original course designer, Robert Trent Jones Sr. The renovation includes a newly constructed clubhouse with pro shop, locker rooms and a restaurant, which will transform in the evenings into another dinner option for resort guests.

The general manager is Jon Gersonde (808-882-7222, [email protected]), who can be contacted directly.

The travel agent liaison for the resort is Liana Mulleitner, director of corporate communications, Prince Resorts Hawaii (808-944-4411, [email protected]). Mulleitner will personally greet VIPs on behalf of the company and the general manager.

A formal grand opening of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel will be celebrated in March 2009.


A Deluxe Ocean View Prime Suite Parlor at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

The 243-room Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu has reached the halfway point in its multimillion-dollar property enhancement. Some of the guest rooms are being redesigned to create 20 new suites by adding parlors/living rooms (at a cost of about $1.1 million each) between select buildings that bridge two bungalows together. When completed, this will increase the total number of suites to 51. The demand for suites comes from customers who are traveling with their families. Ten of these new suites were completed last December. These accommodations are being rolled out as they are completed, and management expects the rest of the suites to be done this spring.

The expansion of the Hualalai Spa from 13,000 to 28,000 square feet includes a couples hall with a plunge pool and soaking tub and two new indoor treatment rooms (now totaling eight). Many of the treatments utilize natural, local Hawaii ingredients. Agents can book spa treatments for their guests up to two months in advance by contacting the resort’s spa director, Karen Cosgrove ([email protected], 808-325-8400).

The Beach Tree Bar & Grill will see an expansion of its terrace and a redesign of the restaurant interior. The restaurant reopens in May/June with a new California/Italian-influenced menu created by Executive Chef James Babian.

The property’s travel agent liaisons are Leighton Kitagawa, sales manager (leighton.kitagawa, 310-286-7545), and Eric Kwan, director of travel industry sales ([email protected], 808-325-8007). 

See Ruthanne Terrero interview Deanna Isbister of The Big Island Visitors Bureau about Hawaii travel specials and attractions in the video below:


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