01 Aug What’s Next for Romance Travel in Hawaii
July 27, 2016
By: Joe Pike
From Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr’s wave-soaked kiss in “From Here to Eternity” to Elvis Presley’s escapades in “Blue Hawaii” to Jason Segel and Mila Kunis’ on-again/off-again relationship in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” the Hawaiian Islands have provided romantic movie backdrops from more than half a century. These and other such films have likely inspired generation after generation of couples to put an Aloha State vacation on their bucket lists, resulting in more than half a million people each year arriving to be wed, have a honeymoon or both — plus all those who come to just to enjoy a romantic island getaway.
The options for these visitors are virtually endless, so we’ve chosen to present a sampling of some of the newer accommodations, venues and packages now available to you clients.
New and Upgraded Love Nests
The Latest Addition to the Waikiki Skyline: Couples heading to Oahu will find a new, luxurious option to stay at in the form of the swanky The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. This much-anticipated residential resort marked its official opening with a Hawaiian blessing and ceremony that was attended by community leaders and dignitaries. Architect Guerin Glass, inspired by Hawaii’s natural elements, designed the 38-story tower using a mauka (mountain) to makai (sea) vision that is seen in the resort’s exterior through artful details and inspired craftsmanship.
The exterior front reflects the ocean, sky and wind and the exterior back reflects the mountains and Honolulu’s urban metropolis. A three-dimensional, modern interpretation of traditional Hawaiian kapa (bark cloth) design covers the first three floors of the tower. All residences face the ocean, providing guests with great views of the Pacific, and include kitchens with premium appliances, along with in-residence washers and dryers.
Other amenities include one of the highest infinity pools in Waikiki on the eighth floor with private cabanas, and a fitness center designed by celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. The Ritz-Carlton Spa will open in mid-September offering customized treatments that incorporate cultures and traditions from different countries around the world.
New Oceanfront Villas: Earlier this year, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort introduced three new oceanfront residential-style villas, bringing its collection of partial and full ocean view villas up to 10. The 3,234-square-foot villas at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, with up to three bedrooms, include such modern touches as private lanais for admiring Maui sunsets, baths with ocean and garden views, showers and luxurious bath amenities.
Architectural elements inspired by the island’s natural beauty — Ambrato marble tile and white lava stone floors, wooden white-washed oak screens, and warm walnut finishes throughout — are blended with modern enhancements such as luxury Miele appliances and custom Bianco Versace marble counters in each of the kitchens, oversized basket-like chairs and Cappellini teak chaises. LEED construction and retractable low-E glass walls open up to 1,000-square-foot lanais.
Each villa at Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort has custom-made furniture, a private outdoor plunge pool or hot tub, Viking range barbecue grills, and lounge areas accented with ottomans and platform beds. Villa guests are also connected with a personal VIP concierge prior to arrival who can arrange a custom itinerary, including everything from coordinating a private chef’s dinner or mixology class on the lanai to stocking the refrigerator upon check-in, arranging bespoke adventures around the island, and more.
Revamped Penthouse Accommodations: Having undergone a complete renovation and product refresh of its “Penthouse at the Moana” guestrooms, the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa on Oahu, invites couples to enjoy any of its 10 Tower Wing Penthouse Ocean Guestrooms and Suites. The suites afford views of the rolling waves of Waikiki’s beaches from spacious private lanais. Sea-inspired interiors showcase an attention to detail and feature relaxing shades of blue and gray representing the varying hues of the ocean throughout the day.
Romance Goes Retro: Another newcomer to the Honolulu hotel scene is the laid-back Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club. Its distinguished retro look is housed in a 1960s-era building, which includes bungalows and suites well-suited for couples. Highlights include hand- curated vinyl during Soul Time; organic, locally sourced dishes at Mahina & Sun’s; and open-air movies (and swimming, of course) at the Swim Club. The hotel also curates exclusive off-site experiences such as surfing lessons and talk story sessions.
New Wedding Venues
Ballroom for Nuptials and Receptions: On the Island of Hawaii, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel recently unveiled the Kaunaoa Ballroom, designed to accommodate weddings and other private events. Offering three sides of floor-to-ceiling windows framing stunning views of Kaunaoa Bay, the ballroom has nearly 3,500 square feet of indoor event space as well as expansive outdoor pre-event space. Flexible for celebrations of various sizes and scope, the venue includes a lanai (patio) surrounding the ballroom, and a nearby open-air area featuring a striking mural commissioned by Hawaii artist Solomon Enos. The Kaunaoa Ballroom is part of a larger $4.5 million transformation of the hotel’s promenade level inclusive of the new Copper Bar, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s iconic gathering place.
Introducing the AKALA Chapel: The former Ocean Crystal Chapel at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has been refreshed, transformed and reopened as the AKALA Chapel under the management of Watabe Wedding Corporation. Occupying a site at the center of the resort’s vast grounds, the AKALA Chapel is bordered by a lava rock waterfall and surrounded by a garden pool, island blooms and tropical greenery. The first floor has a spacious guest lounge and an elegant bride’s room. The airy second story has seating for 50 guests and floor-to-ceiling windows providing the perfect backdrop to a special day. Couples may also opt for the adjacent AKALA Gazebo for a venue at a smaller capacity of up to 25 guests. After the ceremony, the wedding party has easy access to photo opportunities at Duke Kahanamoku Beach, and the backdrop of Waikiki.
À la carte pricing for ceremonies starts at $2,500 and includes a 90-minute reservation at the facility, wedding rehearsal, ceremony coordinator and a keepsake marriage certificate. Costs for the Gazebo begin at $1,000 for 60 minutes. The wedding teams can also assist with ceremony packages that include officiants, musicians, photographers, fresh flower lei and more.
Promotions and Packages
Romance on the Big Island: Tell romantic clients heading to the Kona side of Hawaii Island about the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s Romance Package. Lovebirds arrive at the luxury hotel and are welcomed with a sparkling wine amenity. Clients will also enjoy a special turndown service on the night of their choosing and a daily buffet breakfast. Clients will also be invited to experience soothing spa treatments for two. There is a minimum stay requirement of five nights in order to take advantage of this package, which can be booked back to back, or additional nights may be booked at the best available rate.
For Adults Only: Maui’s only luxury resort designed especially for couples, Hotel Wailea is also Hawaii’s only Relais & Châteaux property. It is now offering couples a chance to experience a romantic island adventure with its new “Amore & Aloha” package. Included are two-nights’ accommodations in an Ocean View Suite with views of the Pacific Ocean, a private lanai and deep-soaking tub for two; a four-hour rental of a 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster reproduction; a gourmet picnic basket lunch; dinner for two with a private chef in the property’s tree house; daily hand-crafted cocktails; and electric bike rental for two. Rates start at $2,465 excluding taxes, per couple, based upon availability.
Attention Active Couples: The new “Fall 4 Maui” package at Honua Kai Resort & Spa encourages adventure and exploration on Maui. With a minimum stay of four nights, couples can select one of four different room types; studio, one-, two-, or three-bedroom suites. The package also includes a $400 “Activity Credit” for any island adventure of the active couples’ choice; an oceanfront breakfast for two at Duke’s Beach House for four days; a welcome amenity complete with four Honua Kai souvenirs and an island experience brochure complete with 40 personal recommendations from the hotel’s team. Rates start at $392 per night. It is valid for travel now through December 22.
Planning a Honeymoon in Kauai: If couples are readers of Condé Nast Traveler, they may wish to check out the boutique Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach, which ranked number one among the magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards for “Top 25 Resorts in Hawaii.” A 30 percent discount is available on bookings of four or more consecutive nights through December 10, or clients can opt for the “Tropical Desire” package, which includes a 50-minute couples’ massage, mid-size rental car and a $100 dinner credit at Red Salt.
We hear that among the most popular retreats for honeymooners is Room #376, an oceanfront suite closest to the water on Kauai. The 624-square-foot room has a separate living room, wooden-beamed ceiling and large soaking tub (one of just 12 on property). A patio with chaise lounges is ideal for taking in 180-degree views of Poipu Beach.
Although wedding ceremonies and receptions are not currently available at Ko’a Kea, discounted accommodations are on offer for groups celebrating elsewhere on the island. For family or friends traveling together to celebrate their loved ones’ special day, the resort presents 29 sets of connecting rooms located in various areas of the property. They range from two Partial Ocean View Rooms (#269 and #271) to an Oceanfront Room and Oceanfront Suite (#378 and #374). And good news for those traveling with their furry friends: the hotel permits dogs 25 lbs. or less. The pet fee is a non-refundable $100 per day, and a bed, food, water bowl and toys are supplied. (Note: Due to limited availability of oceanfront and suite rooms, it is advisable to book at least two months in advance. During high demand periods such as summer and winter holidays, booking three, or more, months before is recommended.)