Hawaii's Hottest Offerings for the Culture-Seeking Tourist

Aulani- A Disney Resort & Spa
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa's new luau, "KA WA‘A – A Lū‘au at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa" launched about a year ago. // Photo by Joe Pike

Whether it's touring a famous palace in Honolulu or checking out Oahu's newest luau, Travel Agent has a lineup of fresh, new offering worth pitching to clients seeking a little culture in Hawaii.

Here are the details.

Iolani Palace in Honolulu Celebrates Queen’s Birthday With New Tours

The Friends of Iolani Palace, a nonprofit citizens' organization, invites visitors to view the Iolani Palace in Honolulu by moonlight in honor of Queen Kapiolani’s birthday. 

From December 29 - 30, the Iolani Palace will offer evening tours from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. each night, with the last tickets issued at 8:45 p.m.

 During the 2017 Queen Kapiolani Evening Tours, guests can take a step back in time and experience the palace as it was during the 19th century. 

As the queen’s birthday takes place on December 31, the palace will be adorned with shimmering decorations and music will swell throughout the halls as it would at King Kalakaua’s holiday soirees. 

To create an ambiance and atmosphere of court celebrations similar to those hosted during the height of the Hawaiian monarchy, entertainment will fill the rooms of the palace including pianist, Eric Shank and soloists from the Mae Z. Orvis Opera Studio of the Hawaii Opera Theatre serenading guests in the Blue Room.

In the Upper HallPuamana, Hoopono Wong and Kaiao Kaiao will perform songs written by Queen Kapiolani and Na Lani Eha, a name given to the four royal siblings – King Kalakaua, Queen Liliuokalani, Prince Leleiohoku and Princess Likelike – who were known for their talent at both composing and performing music.

Not only are the evening tours the only time guests can visit the palace at night, but it’s also a rare opportunity to ascend the famous koa staircase to the second floor and explore the palace to discover treasures of the Hawaiian Kingdom. 
This year the exclusive evening tours will begin on Thursday, December 28, with a VIP experience limited to 300 guests, featuring captivating live entertainment and delicious food courtesy of Pili Group and Young’s Market Company

Tickets for the Thursday, December 28, VIP tour experience is $95 for adults, $25 for children 5-12 years old, and free for 4-year-olds and under.

The tours will continue on Friday and Saturday evening with performances by Kamakakehau Fernandez, Kupaoa, Puamana, Iwalani Apo and many others, along with food for purchase courtesy of Burgers and Things.

A limited number of reserved tour times for $30 per person are available for the December 29 and December 30 evening tours. 

Visit www.iolanipalace.org

Selling Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa’s New Luau

As part of our recent coverage of Pleasant Holidays' "Elite Experience" event for top performing agents in Hawaii, Travel Agent got to check out Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa's new luau, "KA WA‘A – A Lū‘au at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa."

It launched about a year ago on Oahu and currently runs four times a week. The roughly three-hour show includes a narrative on the Polynesian voyage that brought the first ancient explorers to the shores of Ko Olina to go along with hula dancing, live music, fire twirling and even an appearance by Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Perhaps the most frequent question Travel Agent was asked since attending the luau last week was whether the show was an authentic luau or if it was instead character-driven. To that end, we should note that the appearance by Mickey and Minnie was very brief, took place in the middle of the show and didn’t take away from the authentic feel the luau provided. 

Activities available for both adults and children include everything from lea making, Henna tattoos and poi pounding. 

VIP passes, which include early entry, a buffet, premium seating and an open bar are $169 a person. General admission, which includes the buffet and a welcome drink is $129 for adults and $79 for children. Admission for children under three years old is free. 

The experience can be booked through Pleasant Holiday’s Pleasant Activities division, which offers a selection of more than 2,000 tours, activities and excursions in Hawaii, Mexico, the CaribbeanCentral AmericaEuropeAustraliaNew York and Las Vegas. Although it is open to the public, we were told availability is limited. 

Visit www.disneyaulani.com

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Launches 25 New Cultural Experiences

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Hawaii is celebrating its 25th anniversary by offering guests 25 “Exclusively Kapalua” cultural experiences.

From sipping a Kapalua signature Mai Tai during the nightly sunset ceremony or enjoying a peaceful start to the day with a meditative walk around the Kapalua labyrinth, to immersing in the local culture with an Ambassadors of the Environment eco-adventure, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua invites guests to partake in these experiences available during their stay. 

Additionally, the resort will be introducing signature items available for purchase where a portion of the sales will benefit a local charity.

A quarter of a century since it opened, this luxury resort is in the midst of several renovation projects, including the recent completion of brand new residential suites, the addition of beach front eatery The Burger Shack, soon-to-be complete guest room and suites enhancements, a refreshed pool and lobby lanai experience, and the opening of its new Kai Cafe marketplace concept. 

To celebrate the anniversary, the hotel is also offering clients a new “Legacy of Aloha” package available to book through now through October 29, 2018 with travel dates through December 18, 2018. 

Starting rate for the package is $693 per night. It includes $25 savings on a buffet breakfast for two at The Terrace, $25 spa credit or Ambassadors of the Environment credit and $25 savings on The Ritz-Carlton logo items.  

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua offers 463 guest rooms, including 107 residential suites, offering wood floors, flat-screen LCD televisions and Hawaiian-inspired artwork.

Visit www.ritzcarlton.com/kapalua25

The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas Unveils New Local Art Display in Lobby

Local artisans in Hawaii recently unveiled handmade works of art displayed at The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas on Maui

The art pieces, along with a corresponding olelo no eau, or Hawaiian proverb, are showcased within four pillars in the resort’s lobby and will be permanently on display for guests and the public to view and learn about the history and values of Hawaiian culture.
Each piece was created using natural materials and traditional methods that were passed down from generation to generation within each of the practitioner’s families. 

The first pillar exhibits three kahili, or feather staffs. They were made by Kumu Kapono‘ai Molitau from koa wood and feathers. The second pillar is a collaboration between cultural consultant/practitioner Kekai Kapuand fisherman Gigi Gomes. This pillar showcases fishing implements, including a hinai (fishing basket), upena (fishing net), luhee (octopus lure), makau (fishing hooks), and auamo (carrying stick for transporting gourds of food and water). 

The third pillar is a pealauhala (pandanus leaf sail) that was hand-woven by Pohaku Kahoohanohano. The fourth pillar displays a 300-pound kulani hakoi (stone bowl), with a mo o (lizard) sculpture and lauae (fern) engravings that took two years for Anthony “Hoaka” Delos Reyes to shape and carve by hand.
“It requires great skill and a lot of time to create these handmade pieces,” said Makalapua Kanuha, the resort’s complex director of culture, in a written release. “Nowadays there are very few people who practice these traditions to the level of these artisans, so we’re very fortunate to have their work here on display.”

Visit www.westinnanea.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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