Hawaii’s top resorts continue to vie for the all-important family travel segment. Renovations, upgrades and reboots are extending the concept of family fun.
On Oahu’s North Shore, Turtle Bay Resort has just completed some $45 million in renovations. All 410 guestrooms have been upgraded, and its Nalu Kinetic Spa & Fitness Center has been expanded. Rolling out this spring is a new spa menu as well as upgrades to the resort’s 42 luxury beachfront cottages. A fitness studio will open in the fall.
Long appealing to adventure-loving families, Turtle Bay’s revamped activities program is designed for all ages. Highlights include paddling (SUP), dog surfing and snorkeling in Oahu’s most protected waters. Also proving popular is a fresh water Oahu fishing excursion, where guests are guaranteed to catch a fish.
Parents can drop kids off for the guided fishing excursion. As an alternative, they can choose some bonding time together at a private fishing site.
At Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, the Waikolohe Valley water play area has been expanded. It’s but one of the myriad attractions that have made the resort an overwhelming success since opening in 2011. Also popular: spa, salon and makeover treatments for kids and teens aged three and up at Laniwai – A Disney Spa.
Aulani’s location on Oahu’s western shore provides additional attractions as well.
“As part of the Ko Olina Resort & Marina, there are spectacular beaches and serene lagoons, a championship golf course, shopping and dining venues, watersports, and more just steps from Aulani,” said Eric Watkins, manager, sales strategy, Disney Destinations.
Next to the Aulani, families looking for a luxury stay will soon have a new option. The former JW Marriott Ihilani is transforming into the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Set to open in late 2015, the first Four Seasons on Oahu will have 365 rooms.
At the Helumoa Playground, the natural wonders of Waikiki Beach are enhanced with a little manmade ingenuity. The play area is the family focal point for guests of the Sheraton Waikiki and The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. It has two fresh-water swimming pools, a 15-foot-high by 70-foot-long water slide, two large whirlpools with views of Waikiki Beach, and an interactive fountain area for kids.
“Helumoa Playground is an important piece of our master plan to take the product and service in each area of our operations to a new level,” said Kelly Sanders, area managing director, Starwood Waikiki.
At Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, a $100 million renovation is upgrading all 1,230 guestrooms. The resort’s Camp Hyatt program has been updated as well. New is the afternoon E Makani Eha, featuring Hawaiian crafts, lei making, ukulele, storytelling and more. And Aloha Fridays at the resort include a Polynesian show, hands-on lei making, hula dancing, Polynesian art tattooing, and a Samoan fire knife dancer.
“Our family-friendly offerings at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa place significant emphasis on the rich culture and history of the islands. It’s important to us to always provide families with new and interesting activities –like our weekly Aloha Fridays or E Makani Eha – that keep them engaged with our hotel and the surrounding area,” said David Nadelman, area vice president of Hyatt Resorts in Hawaii.
Cultural programing also takes on a new dimension at The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Hawaii Island. Led by the resort’s Aloha Ambassador Healani Kimitete-Ah Mow, “Huaka’i The Journey” takes guests for a walk along the historic shoreline trail. There, they encounter petroglyphs, fishponds and ancient structures.
“Auntie Healani guides our guests young and old alike on a half-hour journey to show this area’s rich cultural heritage that includes the Hawaiian oli, or chant,” said John C. Tolbert, general manager at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. “Authentic cultural experiences offered such as the Huaka'i allow us to help preserve and perpetuate Hawaii's unique heritage and culture."