Wailea Beachfrong Resort
Hawaii is one of the best places on the globe for groups wanting to step out of the frantic pace of the business world and into a relaxing environment where employees can rejuvenate their energy and gain a fresh perspective on their work.
So, on the surface, a whirlwind multi-island media trip involving five plane flights in three days seemed a strange way to experience Hawaii. But the trip, organized by Marriott, was an excellent way for me and the other members of the media contingent to get a brief feel for the company’s properties. And given the heavy demands on everyone’s work schedule, I’m sure it wasn’t practical to extend the trip.
My group visited Marriott properties on four of the Hawaiian Islands in just five days this month, and we were struck by the contrasts as well as the similarities. Kauai, Maui, Oahu and the Big Island, Hawaii—and the Marriott hotels on each of them—all offer many attractive options to meeting groups, and it’s easy to understand why some of these groups alternate holding meeting on different islands.
Our first stop was Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, right in the heart of Waikiki. Shortly after arriving, we were given refreshing massages at Royal Kaila Spa, and then headed to dinner at the property’s Sansei Sushi & Seafood, which also features excellent steak, chicken and pork chops entrees. The following morning, we took a 90-minute Segway tour of Waikiki; it’s a great way for groups to see some of the main sites, including Kapiolani Park and the historic cottages along Coconut Avenue.
Farmer’s Market in Waimea On the Big Island
That afternoon, the group flew to Hawaii, the Big Island, and arrived at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. The contrast between the areas surrounding this resort and Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa could hardly be any more striking; whereas the Waikiki property (though soothing in its own way) contains dozens of shops and is situated in an area buzzing with activity, the Big Island resort is located in a spacious, quiet setting that is perfect for slowing down to smell the many tropical flowers. We had dinner at Hawaii Calls, a top-notch steak and seafood restaurant (I had some of the best prime rib I’ve ever tasted), and in the morning traveled to Waimea to visit a farmers market and Wow Farm, where energetic owner Mike Hodson explained the processes involved in growing produce for the Marriott properties on the Big Island and Maui.
After lunch, we headed to Wailea Beach Resort in Maui (via Honolulu), where we were treated to a fabulous dinner at Migrant, where celebrity chef Sheldon Simeon—inspired by island flavors, his grandma’s cooking and Hawaii regional cuisine—provides his own unique blends to a wide variety of culinary options. The following morning, we found ourselves paddling a traditional Hawaiian canoe off of Wailea Point. Our leader, native Hawaiian Kevin Hoke (owner and operator of Beach Club Maui), made the experience a lesson in traditional Hawaiian culture as well. It was a fun activity—and is particularly great for groups—although the waters were somewhat turbulent, so we had to come back early.
We then flew to Kauai (again, via Honolulu), and were driven to Kauai Marriott Resort. We had an enjoyable dinner there at Kukui’s, which features Pacific Rim and island cuisine (I had a sort of Hawaiian Pad Thai). In the morning, we went on a fascinating helicopter tour of Kauai; more than 80 percent of Kauai can’t be seen from roads, and we got to view much of this area. We returned to enjoy a cooking demonstration and tasting offered by the resort’s sous chef, Jhonny “Ray” Montemayor. It consisted of four tasty courses, and he talked about his claim to fame—creating highly detailed sculptures using fruits and other foods.
The ambitious trip was at times exhausting, but no one seemed to mind—hey, we were in Hawaii, and sampled some of the best it has to offer!