HAWAII Travel Guide
When we think of visiting Hawaii, it is usually beaches and palm trees that come to mind, not crowds and concrete. But anyone who has visited the south side of Oahu knows that it is extremely different from the rest of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of its development. While any fool can surmise what we mean from the photo above, we decided to dig a little deeper and take a look at the numbers as it relates to the hotel scene.
Using the most recent numbers from the 2012 report, the Hawaiian Islands have 144 traditional hotels with a total of 43,151 rooms (not including B&Bs or hostels). The breakdown across the islands shows that Oahu has the most with 68 hotels and 26,186 rooms; Hawaii Island has 32 hotels with 6,785 rooms; Maui has 26 with 7,172 rooms; 15 and 2,660 for Kauai; and Lanai has 3 hotels with 348 rooms. According to the report, Molokai had no properties that qualified as a hotel.
The total number of units for the state of Hawaii, including hotels, B&Bs, hostels, rental condos and apartments, timeshares, and other rentable inventory is 74,650. Of that total, Oahu has 35,126 units; Maui has 19,659; Hawaii Island has 10,794; Kauai has 8,289; Molokai has 429; and Lanai has 353. This means that in terms of places to stay in Hawaii, Oahu and Maui harbor about 73% of them with 47% and 26%, respectively.
A few years ago, Hawaii was hit with a tsunami that caused damage to hotels on both sides of the island, mostly in the lobby and the lower levels where the water rushed in and ripped through.
We're happy to report that the unlucky hotels have since renovated, which we suppose is one (and perhaps the only) benefit of having your entire first floor wiped out by a wave of water - an excuse to spruce things up.
We visited two hotels on opposite sides of the island, the Hilo Hawaiian and King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, which were both affected by the tsunami and have since redone their lobbies and parts of their property. Although there is a risk that comes along with the ocean-front location, it also rewards with rockin' killer views.
Although Kauai and the word "big" would never be used in the same sentence to describe its size, it does have a surprisingly large property in the form of the Grand Hyatt Kauai, which is located on 50-acres with over 600 guest rooms, an outdoor spa, seven restaurants and a golf course.
It's a resort in every sense of the word, but it certainly is a beautiful property. It recently renovated its 37 suites and committed itself to green initiatives, the coolest of which is a design aspect that says no building can be higher than the tallest coconut tree, ensuring that the natural environment remains a main attraction despite it being a sprawling resort.
This HotelChatter contributor learned a valuable lesson and enjoyed a red-sand beach along the Road to Hana, but more importantly, he discovered that driving back to "civilization" on the same day would be foolish given the hotel that awaits travelers. Despite being a small, sleepy town, Hana is home to one (and only one) rather incredible resort, the Travaasa Hana.
Formerly the Hotel Hana Maui, the deal here is that you are transported back to the "old Hawaii," a place before all the concrete and cars showed up. While we know that sounds odd since we're talking about a resort, we were impressed by how well-incorporated it was into the landscape. Other than the floors of the buildings, the only concrete to be found was the path that led from the lobby to the rooms and the small walkway around the edge of the infinity pool. Otherwise, it's green grass, palm trees, and ocean views.
There is definitely a market out there, especially when it comes to Hawaii, of people who simply want to pull up a chair on the beach and plop down for a week, with no interest whatsoever in exploration outside of the resort walls. Give them the ocean and the sand and a couple rum punches followed by a decent dinner, and they're happy little Hawaiian campers.
But what if you like the sound of the above, yet also consider yourself somewhat of an adventurous person - maybe not someone who will walk into any dive bar in any small town, but one who wants to venture off property during the day and return to a beautifully maintained resort to relax? Just because you enjoy staying at hotels doesn't mean you have to close yourself off completely to your surrounding environment, and we found the 72-room all suite Hotel Wailea in Maui to be a perfect example of the type of hotel the adventurous should be after.
Celebrity Chefs / Masaharu Morimoto / Andaz Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / Maui Hotels / Wailea Hotels / Hotel Restaurants / → All Tags
You may not be able to tell from this laid-back photo, but chef Masaharu Morimoto really is hard at work preparing for the opening of his second Hawaiian restaurant Morimoto Maui, now scheduled for October at the Andaz Maui at Wailea.
When we visited the resort for its grand opening on September 1st, we'd hoped to get a sneak peak at the restaurant too, but we were shut down on all fronts. In fact, the teak wood and black-stone tile restaurant is currently hidden behind a huge tent that's been lovingly called "Cirque du Sushi".
Morimoto did allow for a candid shot and we gotta say, he looks super cool outside the chefs whites, right?
Snapshot / Hotel Fashion / Andaz Hotels / Maui Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / Hotel Volunteer Programs / → All Tags
..this little guy! We've never seen such a cool looking kid decked out in the finest resort wear. The boy was one of the Andaz Maui at Wailea first guests (with his family, of course) when the hip hotel opened on September 1st. Check out our first look here.
Although the Andaz isn't your typical family resort--you won't find water slides, game rooms or a kid's club, they do support the area's local youth and have adopted the nearby Kihei Elementary School.
Part of the corporation's responsibility program, Hyatt Thrive, the hotel has already started volunteer work at the school, developed a monthly rewards program, and even installed a new refrigerator in the school’s faculty lounge.
The hotel's goal is to help strengthen education at the school and personal advancement within the local community. That's part of the Hawaii's ohana (family) spirit, and one of the reasons we love the islands so much.
[Photo: Trevor Durham/Andaz Maui at Wailea]
Best Room To Book / Hotel Openings / Photo Gallery / Andaz Hotels / Maui Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / → All Tags
It finally happened. At 2pm on September 1st, the highly anticipated Andaz Maui at Wailea finally opened for business, after being delayed from their original August 15th debut date.
We were front and center for the emotional blessing ceremony led by the respected Kahuna Nui, Kapono'ai Molitau. The kahuna told us he's particular about the places he'll perform his chants, and felt the Andaz's space was very special.
Indeed, there's history here. The hotel was once a Renaissance Hotel that was beloved by long-time vacationers. After sitting empty for many years, the Hyatt group came in and decided to turn it into one of the hottest hotel brands today.
The Andaz Maui is the 10th of its kind to open, and there are more on the way. But right now let's focus on this gallery of first looks at this resort that's made a huge effort to embody the spirit of Hawaiian aloha.
Plus, we'll tell you which is the Best Room to Book, after the jump.
Hotel News / Hotel Openings / Budget Hotels / Hawaii Hotels / Oahu Hotels / Waikiki Hotels / → All Tags
A few months ago we dished on a few Oahu properties for those traveling to Hawaii on a budget, featuring hotels we thought were a value with rates under $200. It looks like we have another promising one to add to the list, as the new 125-room boutique Vive Hotel Waikiki recently opened its doors last month with rates starting at $189.
And from the looks of the photos and the list of amenities, it seems like it's going to fit right in with its location two blocks from Waikiki Beach. The rooms either have a view of the ocean, the mountains or Diamond Head, and the hotel provides complimentary daily continental breakfast as well as complimentary WiFi.
We try not to judge or debate legalities when it comes to weed use in the celebrity world, but damn if it hasn't seemed like a trend lately. You've got Justin Bieber photo'd puffing (but seemingly not passin'--duuuude), Rihanna being unapologetically blunted in various Instagram and Twitter feeds, and then there's Lil Wayne who doesn't GAF about anything except "Good Kush and alcohol". And these are just the new jacks. We won't even talk about Snoop
Dogg Lion, Willie Nelson, and other celebs who celebrate Mary Jane like a Rick James track.
But what about this gal Jennifer Lawrence? The 22-year old gal who's been the darling of the screen lately, and especially the film awards circuit? She recently won an Academy Award, took a spill at the ceremony, and then days later, the picture above comes out of her drinking red wine and smoking a "hand-rolled cigarette" while relaxin' at a Hawaii hotel.
Naturally, everyone went batshit crazy with this info. HC? We just wanna know the hotel where this downtime took place. We stay in our proper gossipy lane! So, we got a bit nosey (that we don't apologize for) and went on the hunt for the location.
It's getting more and more expensive to visit Oahu, and, for once, it has nothing to do with the cost of coladas or airline tickets. This time, it's actually the hotel industry that's pumping up prices by turning budget-friendly accommodations into luxury lodging. Grr.
Now, don't think this is malicious -- there's a lot of good work being done -- but the fact is that budget-friendly hotels are disappearing. Smith Travel Research reports the number of budget rooms on Oahu and Waikiki has decreased by 10% over the last ten years.
In 2006, Oahu had 33 budget properties but by the end of last year there were only 27 (less than 700 budget hotel rooms in total). Because of the high cost associated with building new on Waikiki, developers are deciding to renovate older buildings, turning them into newer, nicer, and pricier properties.
Despite that trend, you can still find a cheap hotel on Oahu. For our purposes, we consider anything under $200/night in Waikiki during high season a "budget property." Here's a sampling of some of the options we found, based on guest feedback as well as our own. Keep in mind it's currently the high season in Hawaii, meaning you can get even lower prices (and less crowds) if you visit in the late spring or summer...
Name This Caption / Hotel Snapshots / Have You Ever Done This / Hawaii Hotels / Hilton Hotels / → All Tags
It's Monday and just the right hour to take a minute and play Witty Wordsmith with us, whydontcha? That's right, it's time to Name.This.Caption!
Check this photo taken during a visit to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. There was something going down as a Japanese film crew commanded part of the beach to capture a pop-star's video.
But this couple sunning on the beach here? Didn't raise an eyebrow. Didn't move their backpack not one bit to see what all the fuss was about.
We were torn between watching them bake (and ignore the boom) and figuring out who was was being filmed. We're so nosy, we admit it!
So do we name this photo "Jaded in Oahu"? "The Nap Trumps All"? Or can you do better?
Help us out! Have a humorous hunch about what's happening here? Let us know in comments below!