The Wall Street Journal reported tourism in Hawaii is back up to 2007 levels, good news for the island chain battered by a recession, significant air service reductions, two cruise ships leaving and a downturn in Japanese tourists reeling from the March 2010 earthquake and tsunami.
The fiftieth state is perhaps seen - at least by travelers - as our nation's most exotic destination. The longer flight means a higher ticket price, not to mention that hey, if you're going all the way to Hawaii, you may as well stay awhile. According to travel booking site Travelocity, the average length of stay in Honolulu was eight days in 2011, compared with five days in South Florida, another popular beach destination. All those nights in a hotel room add up fast - and add to the perception that the Aloha State is a dream destination. In other words, not the first vacation spot that comes to mind when you're watching your travel dollars.
Whether it's been a few years since your last visit or you're planning your very first trip, there's no denying Hawaii is back on travelers' "must-visit" list. Here's what's new in Hawaii over the last few years.
Hawaiian Airlines will introduce a new non-stop flight between New York's JFK and Honolulu, starting June 5. Alaska Airlines has increased its service to Hawaii in the last few years and will begin daily service between Honolulu and San Jose and Oakland on April 10.
For travelers who want to make Hawaii a stopover on their way to Asia, Hawaiian Airlines has expanded its route network to three cities in Asia including Haneda International Airport (Tokyo, Japan), Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea), and Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan) and will begin service to Fukuoka, Japan beginning in April.
After two years of construction, the brand-new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on Oahu opened in November 2010. The $58 million facility houses all the attractions at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor. Also on Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center has begun a $38 million renovation to include new restaurants, shows and activities.
On Kauai's North Shore, the St. Regis Princeville Resort (previously the Princeville Resort ) opened in 2009 and is the luxury brand's only Hawaii hotel. It houses Hawaii's first Jean-Georges restaurant, Kauai Grill. The same year, the 121-room Koa Kea Hotel & Resort opened on Poipu Beach. Also on Poipu Beach, the Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach officially opened in April 2011 and is still completing construction (the hotel's web site indicates special rates are available due to construction).
In 2011, Disney opened its first property in Hawaii on Oahu. Called Aulani, the 21-acre resort features both guestrooms and Disney Vacation Club villas. In 2010, the former Waikiki EDITION re-opened in as the The Modern Honolulu complete with Morimoto Waikiki, a new restaurant by the world-renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk opened in 2009.
Maui's secluded eastern shore is the new (June 2011) home of Travaasa Hana, made up of 70 cottages and suites with both an all-inclusive and a la carte option for guests. The all-inclusive option includes a daily spa treatment.
Notable renovations include Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach (Kauai); Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (Oahu); The Fairmont Kea Lani and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa (Maui); and The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (Big Island).