Hawaii hoteliers have the summertime blues, and it’s resulting in red-hot deals for travelers.
Although visitor arrivals and hotel occupancy have improved since last year, lagging group business, continued economic woes and fierce competition from other destinations ensure that value-driven offers—especially for kamaaina—will remain in the market from now until Christmas.
Kamaaina can book plenty of off-beach Hawaii rooms for less than $100 a day.
"Our average daily room rates are not improving and in some cases are still declining," said Barry Wallace, executive vice president of hospitality services for Outrigger Enterprises Group. "While that’s not good news for the hotel industry, it’s great news for visitors. It’s a superb time to travel."
In some cases, hoteliers are offering lower rates than last year when the market was bottoming out, said Wallace. And kamaaina are responding.
"Our percentage of kamaaina business is the same in 2010, a high occupancy year, as it was in 2009, a year of desperation," Wallace said.
Sylvia Pabalan usually celebrates her birthday at home in Molokai; however, good room rates combined with other cost-saving specials enticed her to spend it this year at the Aqua Waikiki Wave with her son Jaime’s family.
"We rarely get to come to stay in Waikiki. Only for special occasions, and only if there are specials," said Sylvia’s daughter-in-law Amihan Pabalan, who lives in Ewa Beach. "If they don’t have deals, I’d rather stay home."
ROOMS FOR LESS THAN $100 A NIGHT
Hawaii’s peak visitor season has filled tourist destinations throughout the islands; however, hoteliers are still trying to hedge their bets by luring kamaaina with bargain basement deals. Here’s a sampling of the deals, which are based on availability, for locals islandwide. Just show your Hawaii driver’s license or state-issued ID and discover why sometimes it pays to stay closer to home:
Outrigger Hotels & Resorts/Ohana Hotels: www.outrigger.com or 866-956-4262; www.ohanahotels.com or 866-968-8744
Ala Moana Hotel: www.alamoanahotelhonolulu.com or 866-448-1396
Aqua Hotels and Resorts: www.AquaResorts.com or 866-971-2782
Aston Hotels & Resorts: www.astonhotels.com or 877-997-6667
In addition to Waikiki’s free sun, sand and surf, the family also enjoyed hotel freebies like a Wednesday manager’s pau hana reception that included live deejay music, signature tropical cocktails, fresh fruit and snacks. Even the birthday meal was discounted thanks to Todai’s policy of offering complimentary dinners to diners on their birthday and to kids 3 feet tall and under.
A self-proclaimed comparison shopper, Pabalan said she’s quick to take advantage of a bargain when she finds one.
"If they offer kamaaina deals, I’m all over it," she said.
Recognizing that kamaaina balance the mix of visitors, hoteliers are aggressively searching for them.
"While we are hopeful for a strong recovery for Hawaii tourism, our kamaaina guests will always be very important to the success of our resort," said Brad Mettler, director of marketing, for the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, where kamaaina can book rooms for 50 percent off the published daily rates.
Intense competition has forced hoteliers to step up the value-added offers along with their price discounting, said Elizabeth Churchill, vice president of sales and marketing for Aqua Hotels and Resorts.
"Mexico and the Caribbean are offering seven-night, all-inclusive stays for $2,500 including airfare," Churchill said. "We really need to have competitive rates out there because everyone else does."
And since there is less room to discount price for off-beach properties, companies like Aqua have to get more creative about the values they can offer guests, she said.
Jon and Maria Rittenberg, a kamaaina family who are moving to Washington, said Aqua’s best perk did not involve room nights or food, at least for them.
Aqua Waikiki Pearl’s pet policy, which allows guests to bring up to two dogs 40 pounds and under each, drew the couple to spend their last Hawaii moments in Waikiki.
"It’s been just great having our pets here with us," said Maria Rittenberg, while family pets Floppy and Chisox seemed to bark in agreement. "It’s hard moving and this has made it easier."
The pet-friendly policies at the Aqua’s Waikiki Pearl and Waikiki Wave attract a lot of kamaaina, Churchill said.
"It’s great to offer them that dog-friendly availability when they are traveling or having their houses tented or renovated," she said.
Aqua even caters to its four-legged kamaaina by offering them doggy bowls and treats, Churchill said.
In this environment, even the big on-beach hotels like Hilton Hawaiian Village are dropping rates and offering value-added deals.
In addition to rate discounts, kamaaina guests get 50 percent off lagoon toys and discounted parking, said Jerry Gibson, general manager of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and area vice president and managing director for Hilton Hawaii.
Hilton’s kamaaina promotions will be in the market toward the end of August and into fall, when the hotel expects group business to weaken, Gibson said.
"There’s still some fallout from groups canceling and not rebooking," he said. "We won’t really come back for another three to five years from a group standpoint."
In the summer of 2009, Jehovah’s Witnesses and American Dental Association groups filled up more than 25,000 Waikiki rooms, said Shari Chang, senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management for Aston Hotels & Resorts.
"Last year we had three citywide conventions; this year we don’t," Chang said.
Kamaaina might have difficulty getting discount rates during certain peak summer and fall weekends, but hotels are rolling out the deals overall, she said.
"We are offering everything from room rates under $100 to free parking, free upgrades and late checkouts," Chang said.
Hilton Hawaiian Village will offer $149 room rates—about $10 higher than last year when tourism was at record lows—for kamaaina toward the last half of August, Gibson said.
Without the group business, there isn’t enough compression in the market for hoteliers to move rates higher, he said.
"These are the best specials that I’ve ever seen in 23 years in Hawaii," Gibson said. "You will see good rates next year, but they probably will not be where they are right now."
OTHER AFFORDABLE SPLURGES
» Aston is offering $105 per night for a studio at the Aston Pacific Monarch, which sleeps up to four. (www.astonhotels.com or 877-997-6667)
» Outrigger is offering its beachfront Outrigger Reef on the Beach and Outrigger Waikiki for $135. (www.outrigger.com or 866-956-4262)
» Hilton Hawaiian Village is offering $149 per night for kamaaina with 50 percent off lagoon toys and discounted parking. (www.hiltonhawaii.com or 1-800-HILTONS)
» JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa: $289 (www.marriott.com/hawaii or 679-0079)
» Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: $160 (www.marriott.com/hawaii or 922-6611)
» Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach: $109 (www.marriott.com/hawaii or 954-4000)
» Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa: 50 percent off the published rate of the day (www.hyatt.com/hyatt/resorts/hawaii/ or 888-619-1234)
» Sheraton Waikiki: $159; rate plan KAMVIP, includes complimentary parking and room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, plus 25 percent off select meals (starwoodhotelshawaii.com/kamaaina or 866-716-8140)
» The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort: $259; rate plan KAMVIP, includes complimentary parking and room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, plus 25 percent off select meals (starwoodhotelshawaii.com/kamaaina or 866-716-8140)
» Aston is offering $125-per-night rates for a one-bedroom condominium on Kauai at the Aston at Poipu Kai, which sleeps up to four. (www.astonhotels.com or 877-997-6667)
» Kauai Marriott Resort: $149 (www.marriott.com/hawaii or 808-245-5050)
» Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa: 50 percent off published rate (www.hyatt.com/hyatt/resorts/hawaii or 888-619-1234)
» Sheraton Kauai Resort: $159; rate plan KAMVIP, includes complimentary parking and room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, plus 25 percent off select meals (starwoodhotelshawaii.com/kamaaina or 866-716-8140)
» Aston is offering $121- per-night rates for a one-bedroom condominium on Maui at the Aston Paki Maui, which sleeps up to four (www.astonhotels.com or 877-997-6667)
» Aqua is offering rooms at the Hotel Wailea Maui from $149 per night (www.AquaResorts.com or 866-971-2782)
» Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: $199 (www.marriott.com/hawaii or 808-879-1922)
» Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: 50 percent off published rate (www.hyatt.com/hyatt/resorts/hawaii or 888-619-1234)
» Grand Wailea: $299 until the end of the year (www.hiltonhawaii.com or 800-HILTONS)
» Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa: $169; rate plan KAMVIP, includes complimentary parking and room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, plus 25 percent off select meals (starwoodhotelshawaii.com/kamaaina or 866-716-8140)
» Aqua is offering a nightly rate of $113 at the Aqua Hotel Molokai (www.AquaResorts.com or 866- 971-2782)
» Aston is offering $154- per-night rates for a one-bedroom deluxe condominium suite at the Aston Shores at Waikoloa, which sleeps up to four. (www.astonhotels.com or 877-997-6667)
» Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: $159 (www.marriott.com/hawaii or 808-886-6789)
» Hilton Waikoloa Village: $169 (through Aug. 15); from Aug. 15 until the end of the year the rate will be $159 per night and $129 per night for a three-night booking. (www.hiltonhawaii.com or 1-800-HILTONS)
» Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa: $129; rate plan KAMVIP, includes complimentary parking and room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout, plus 25 percent off select meals (starwoodhotelshawaii.com/kamaaina or 866-716-8140)