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Guide to meeting sites in Hawaii.

Sparkling beaches golden in the sunset, balmy air stirred by gentle trade winds, and the bluest of clean oceans-- travel brochures list these dreamy descriptions as enticements for every Hawaiian island. And they're all accurate. On the other hand, though each island enjoys the same temperate climate, the ethnic mix is "chop suey" throughout, and tourism is the lifeblood of the whole chain, subtle differences characterize each destination. To choose the perfect spot for any convention or group, association executives need to be versed on the charms of all six major islands before pinpointing the assets of one special resort.

OAHU

For all practical purposes, conventioneers who choose Oahu gather in Waikiki, a two-and-a-half-mile-long metropolis soaring with skyscrapers, golden beaches, and fascinating shops. Bounded by "Life's Greatest Beach" on one side, the Ala Wai Canal and golf course on the opposite, Kapiolani Park at the Diamond Head end and Ala Moana Shopping Center and beach park to the west, Waikiki boasts the finest restaurants, the hottest entertainment, and the greatest concentration of shops, all conveniently within walking distance. Near the Ala Moana end of Waikiki, Hilton Hawaiian Village sprawls along the beach front with 2,523 rooms in four hotel towers, three pools, nine restaurants, and more than 75 shops. You can watch Charo do the hoochi-koochi at the Tropics Surf Club or be confounded by illusionist John Hirokawa performing his Magic of Polynesia at the Hilton Dome. The Village handles large groups such as 2,000 members of Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Seattle, Washington.

Further up the beach, three Sheraton properties include the popular 1,900-room Sheraton Waikiki; the smaller, beautifully restored Sheraton Moana Surfrider; and the gracious, established pink lady of Waikiki-the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Of the three beachfront beauties, the Sheraton Waikiki, with the largest ballroom of any Oahu hotel, can handle the greatest number of people and has satisfied the needs of the American Bar Association, Chicago, and American Bankers from Washington D.C.

Just a block or two closer to Diamond Head across the street from Kuhio Beach, the Hawaiian Regent offers 1,346 guest rooms, two pools, six restaurants, and tennis facilities, which are often hard to find in centrally located Waikiki hotels.

Duck into the Pacific Beach Hotel a few steps further down the street 10 check out its three-story, 280,000-gallon indoor oceanarium. Diners in this 850-room hotel enjoy a scuba diver's view from almost any table in the reasonably priced restaurant. windsurfers and sailors, while hardier types go for the gusto on horseback rides through upcountry or bicycle treks down the slopes of Haleakala.

Wailea Destination Association President Nancie Brown says, "The exciting thing about Wailea is that with the largest ballroom in the state, we can now offer 124 000-square-feet of meeting space, so large groups like the National Association of Chain Drug Stores can meet on a neighbor island for the first time. Our five hotels are connected by a beachwalk and shuttle service, so different divisions of a company can stay at separate hotels, but

participants can get together at one property for big meetings. AIl the other end of the spectrum, the island also has four condominium properties that are great for smaller board-of-director-type retreats."

MAUI

Maui is the second most cosmopolitan island, sought out by winter sun-worshippers and frolicking humpback whales alike. Sparkling clear waters draw snorkelers,

HAWAII

At the southern end of the chain, Big Island visitors are attracted by the diversity of this largest Hawaiian island. You'll want to rent a car to visit the Volcano area's lush rain forests full of tree ferns vividly contrasting stark volcanic craters, the picturesque paniolo (cowboy) town of Waimea, rainy Hilo, or the snow-dusted peak of Mauna Keg where the world's largest telescope (the Keck) scans the clearest of Hawaii's heavens. Conventionears have every whim catered to at total destination resorts nestled like green oases in black lava flows along the Kohala Coast, perfect retreats for tennis players, golfers, swimmers, and hikers. Hotels right in the sleepy little seaside town of Kailua-Kona, like King Kamehameha's Kong Beach Hotel, offer the pluses of an abundance of nearby fine and casual dining, boutiques, charter fishing, and historic landmarks. June Leialoha, director of operations, Hawaiian International Billfish Association, summed up why her organization has booked King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel for the three years she's been with the association. "They're congenial, they work well with us, the hotel is located right by the Kailua-Kona pier, and it has all the amenities we need--conference rooms, restaurant facilities, bars. We utilize the spacious lobby far our merchandize sales and exhibitions."

To the south of Kailua-Kona, seven miles of two-lane road stretches through Keauhou along the ocean lined by condos and culminating at the Kong Surf Hotel. The Kona Surf locale offers easy access to town but less of the hustle and bustle of being based right in the center of a tourist mecca.

KAUAI, MOLOKAI, & LANAI

Furthest north in the chain, the Garden Isle, Kauai, justly deserves its nickname, as it most resembles a tropical paradise.

Stepping down in size and pace, Molokai, the most Hawaiian Island, sports the nickname "The Friendly Isle." Similarly, the island of Lanai (where pineapple is being replaced by the visitor industry) has two hotels for groups. Visitors who like to retire early and who feel equally comfortable in a golf cart or a four-wheel-drive jeep--or even on the back of a mule descending a cliff edge to the historic Hanson's disease sefflement at Kalaupapa, Molokai--might choose these "hidden" islands.

WHERE THE WORLD WANTS TO MEET

No matter which island and which resort you choose, the members of your group will be 1ouched by the aloha spirit and inspired by the beauty of their surroundings. The exotic draw of a tropical paradise combined with the ease of traveling within the United States make Hawaii a perfect convention destination. There are no visas to obtain, no shots to suffer through, no foreign currency to get used to, nor any language barrier to overcome, and the sparkling water is safe to drink.

Dining fare ranges from the familiarity of steak and lobster and McDonald's to Pacific Rim perfection. Shops and boutiques are filled with fascinating little finds ranging from local crafts, Oriental and Asian goods, and casual resort wear to European designer fashions.

YOU CAN GET HERE FROM THERE

AIR TRANSPORTATION: So many airlines fly to Hawaii, all you have to do is call your travel agent to research your options. From gateway cities, nonstop flights are the fastest way to Hawaii's beaches. Many airlines fly nonstop to Oahu, but only United Airlines flies nonstop to both Oahu and Maui. From the West Coast--Sealtle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles--Hawaiian Air often offers the most reasonable fares. If you "fly direct" from the East Coast, you'll stay on the same aircraft but make a stop or two along the way. "Connecting flights" mean you will be making plane changes during layovers.

If you are headed for a neighbor island, once you land at Honolulu International Airport, you'll change to Aloha, Hawaiian, or Aloha IslandAir. Wiki Wiki buses save shoe leather and offer a free five-minute ride between terminals, but to be safe, allow an hour or more between connecting flights in Hawaii. Lanai and Molokai have one airport each. Most Maui visitors fly into Kahului and then have up to a 40-minute drive to resort destinations at Makena, Wailea, Lahaina or Kanapali. Visitors staying at Kapalua, Maui, often prefer to fly into the much smaller Kapalua-West Maui Airport to save driving time. On the Big Island, most travelers disembark at Keahole Airport for resorts in Kailua-Kona, al Keauhou or on the Kohala Coast. A few seasoned travelers land in Hilo, rent a car and head directly to Volcano, and then drive around to the sunny side of the island. Kauai offers a small commuter airport at Princeville for golfers who can't wait to hit the award-winning courses, but people who stay on the Coconut Coast, at Poipu, or at the Westin Kauai in Lihue, fly into Lihue Airport.

GROUND TRANSPORTATION: Rental cars, taxi, hotel van, and/or limo service are available From all airports. City buses do not transport travelers with luggage, but many major hotels supply shuttle service on request. Although rental cars are available at all airports, it is wise to make reservations well in advance, as during busy holidays neighbor island rental cars can be scarce.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: No matter how exotic it seems, Hawaii is a state, and for U.S. citizens there are no entry restrictions--but don't bring your pet, as strict regulations impose a four-month quarantine on cats and dogs 10 prevent the introduction of rabies.

TAXES: A 4 percent state tax is standard on all goods and services in Hawaii. A departure tax of $6 is charged 0n leaving the Islands by air.

TIME ZONE: The Islands are on Hawaiian Standard Time, two hours earlier than Pacific Standard Time or five hours earlier than Eastern Standard Time-- not considering Daylight Saving Time, which is never used in Hawaii.

TIPPING: Firleon percent is standard in restaurants.

BUSINESS HOURS: Hours of opening and closing vary considerably, though many shopping centers open about 9:30 a.m. Neighbor island shops tend to close early, perhaps 5 p.m., while in Waikiki, businesses might be open until the wee hours.

SHIPPING MEETING MATERIALS: Air freight is the easiest and Fastest way to bring in anything of nearly any size, but association starlets would be advised to check with a hotel coordinator to determine what materials are available locally.

HOW PLEASANT IS IT?

Islanders tend to tune out the nightly television weather report due to boredom, and visitors laugh at its brevity. Most local people can recite from memory, "Temperatures will be in the mid-eighties, a few scattered showers on the windward side, light trade winds--it's going to be a beautiful day tomorrow." Generally the leeward sides of islands (where most resorts are located) have less rainfall than windward sides, though sometimes during the winter everyone gets a little wet--that, afterall, is what keeps Hawaii lush and green. During winter months, or if you've booked a post-convention stay in an upcountry inn or bed and breakfast on Maui or the Big Island, you may want a sweater for chillier evenings. In the summer, just pack shorts, a bathing suit, and comfortable sandals and you'll fit right in. Listed below are mean temperatures recorded in Waikiki, Oahu. Temperatures on Neighbor Islands or at other elevations might vary plus or minus five degrees during any given day.

THEME MANIA

The luau is Hawaii's traditional theme party, and any number of hotels are equipped to pop the pig in the imu (underground oven), mix up the mai tais, and bring on grass-skirted dancers with swaying hips and lovely hula hands.

Some off-property locations offer a complete package: location, caterer, entertainment, and props; others make their properties available but allow you to choose your theme and make your own catering arrangements.

On (Oahu, you can climb aboard a four-masted, fully square-rigged historic sailing ship. Pirate parties, clam bakes, and murder mysteries take place under the stars.

Landlubbers might prefer to book Paradise Park in Manoa Valley. During daytime events, the grounds of the 15-acre pork are open, featuring bird shows, huge Dinamation Dinosaurs, four brand-new megamazes for anyone not already confused, and five ethnic gardens that depict Hawaiian, Portuguese, Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese cultures.

Events can be staged among the sea creatures--dolphins, penguins, sea lions, and reef fish in the giant tank at Sea Life Park, or on the elegant new Honolulu Star, a Paradise Cruise ship that set sail off Waikiki just this year.

On Maui, at 112-acre Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu Valley, you can book "Jazz Under the Stars," "A Taste of Hawaii," "A Whale of a Party," or a "Hawaiian Country Barbecue" in the plantation's "Field of dreams." On the quieter side, tram tours of the gardens show visitors first-hand how pineapple, coffee, star fruit, passion fruit, sugar cane, mangos, and more are cultivated.

On the Big Island, two upcountry locations handle large groups. Hale Kea, a charming old estate built in 1897 for the manager of Parker Ranch, has been turned into a shopping and dining complex. Country fairs, chili cook-outs, and paniolo parties suit Hale Kea's ambience. Further up the mountain, Waikiki Ranch stages true country shindigs, paniolo [cowboy)theme parties, customized to suit your every whim. The ranch has the facilities to stage polo exhibitions and down-home barbecues.

On Kauai, Kilohana's manicured lawns also allow guests to enjoy a polo game while elegantly sipping champagne. Kilohana is a Tudor-style plantation home built in 1935 lhat now houses shops and restaurants in a beautifully restored main house and out-buildings.

According to Show People Hawaii's chief honcho, Rick Anderson, nostalgia themes are among the most popular right now. All you have to do is determine your budget and turn it over to the experts.
 High Low
January 81F 63F
February 81F 63F
March 83F 68F
April 83F 67F
May 83F 70F
June 85F 70F
July 86F 72F
August 88F 72F
September 88F 70F
October 86F 70F
November 85F 70F
December 83F 65F


INFORMATION, PLEASE ! Hawaii Visitors Bureau has been around in some form or other to promote the visitor industry since 1902, so you can be assured the bureau knows what kinds of support associations need. Most of these services are supplied at little or no cost. Besides free brochures on each island destination, the bureau offers a convention kit with maps, photos, and a booklet that outlines the convention facilities of each member hotel and service. Hawaii Visitors Bureau also provides promotional material, such as color slides and two 16-mm color and sound films. It can help with overall convention planning, registration, name badges, bulletin face typewriters, additional equipment, or staff and publicity. Hawaii Visitors Bureau Meetings and Conventions Department 2270 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 801 Honolulu, HI 96815 Phone: [808)923-1811 FAX: (808)922-8991 Telex: 8483 HVB HR

Hawaii Visitors Bureau offices exist on Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai as well as in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Association Management
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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