What's New on Hawaii Island?

Travel Agent recently met up with several representatives from Hawaii Island, which is taking steps to rebrand from its traditional name of the Big Island and reposition itself as a major player in the state’s tourism scene.

Leanne Pletcher of the Hilton Waikoloa Village (pictured) said that the resort is renovating the rooms in its Lagoon Tower, and the project should be finished in August. The rest of the resort will undergo renovation in 2015.

Vicky Kometani, who represents Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa, Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides and Historic Kailua Village, said that the Lava Lava Beach Club will open on Friday on the beach at Anaeho‘omalu Bay on the Kohala Coast. The beach club is made up of four freestanding cottages, a 120-seat open air restaurant and bar, and an outdoor event lawn that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. 

On South Kona, the Sheraton Keauhou Bay is undergoing a renovation that will include its ballroom (reportedly the largest in Kona), a new wall design, a new dining concept and an increased focus on local history and culture. (New guided tours will be available.) Most notably, when the renovations are complete, the hotel will also have a new name: The Sheraton Kona

Frank Carpenter, co-owner of Kona Boys—a surf, kayak, SUP and snorkel shop—talked about his efforts to promote traditional water sports like surfing, stand-up paddleboarding or outrigger canoe excursions. Groups can book full-day events (which generally  involves rotating rounds of kayaking, snorkeling and paddleboarding), and Carpenter said that he creates custom tours for the Four Seasons Hualalai.

Voluntourism in Hawaii has become a popular trend lately, and visitors are helping to plant trees and supporting local schools as part of their stay on the island. The island is also continuing to grow as a foodie destination, with agritourism bringing communities and visitors together to focus on place-based sourcing. “It gives them a sense of pride,” Nathan Kam, the public relations agent for the island, explained.