Leveraging the cultural heritage of the islands to create authentic experiences for groups makes for unique corporate retreats in Hawaii.
“The Meet Hawaii team works closely with planners to personally develop effective programs and schedules based on desired goals that maximize the meeting experiences for attendees,” says Mary Neister, VP at Meet Hawaii. “The team helps planners get the most out of their budgets by connecting the dots to an extensive network of industry partners and resources statewide. Additionally, they can share insight on the nuances of hosting meetings in the Hawaiian Islands and offer insider tips to enhance the overall experience.”
Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage provides attendees with authentic experiences unique to the islands. Groups can participate in team building exercises, such as outrigger canoe paddling, throw-net fishing, harvesting kalo from a lo’i (irrigated agricultural terrace), or helping restore a centuries-old loko i’a (fishpond) built by early Hawaiians.
Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
Boasting 839 guest rooms and suites, the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach opened last year at the former beach residence of Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, who called it Kealohilani, or ”The Royal Brightness.”
The resort’s $115 million redevelopment pays homage to its royal history and cultural heritage. The resort lobby features a 280,000-gallon Oceanarium filled with local fish, while the SWELL Bar located on the pool deck boasts private cabanas and an infinity saltwater swimming pool, and is available for evening events or buyouts.
“Executive Chef Conrad Aquino recently held a cooking demonstration in Lychee for meeting attendees to make their own poke (Hawaiian-style ceviche) with prepped ingredients, and his Executive Sous Chef Kevin Carvalho provided an experiential performance that was a highlight of the group’s visit to Honolulu,” says Patsy Narimatsu, area director of sales and marketing.
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, is located on the west side of Oahu in Ko Olina. The resort community offers much to satisfy outdoorsy attendees, including an 18-hole golf course, marina, white-sand beaches and a variety of restaurant options.
New at the resort is a unique dining and entertainment experience called KA WA‘A, a Luau. The show combines music and traditional Hawaiian dance to tell the story of the sacred canoe that brought the ancestors of native Hawaiians to Hawaii. The luau is available for full or partial buyout for private group events, and the beach at Aulani is also available for private functions.
“From the moment attendees step on property, they are fully immersed in the beauty, culture and tradition of Hawaii through stunning artwork, architecture, stories and friendly hospitality, all combined with a touch of Disney magic,” says Joe Medwetz, senior sales and services director.
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa is the largest full-service resort on Maui and provides a multitude of options for attendees. The resort personalizes the incentive experience by bringing in elements of Hawaiian culture such as “Opening Session Hawaiian Prayers,” where leis are given to attendees on arrival, on-property cultural activities, and the exhilarating “Drums of the Pacific Luau.”
“One our biggest differentiations on why a planner should bring a program to our resort is the special connection with Hawaiian culture that is provided to all of our guests,” says Ben Premack, director of sales and marketing. “The unique learning and experiential opportunity for each attendee is an amazing takeaway, while having the safety and comfort of traveling within the United States.”
The resort recently completed a full meeting and event space renovation that updated all of its ballrooms and event spaces and added a new oceanfront event lawn.
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The Grand Wailea is set on more than 40 acres of oceanfront property and offers planners a total of 100,000 sf of function space.
“Grand Wailea has tapped into ancient practices and the history of Honua’ula,” says Tina Canderle, director of sales. “This is reflected through first-hand activities such as team building and wellness exercises in the outrigger canoe, the ‘E Ala E’ sunrise to encourage and instill rejuvenation and inspiration, and Ka Malama private dinners that consist of five-course meals based on the ancient Hawaiian moon calendar. Each activity can be customized for groups of any size, weaving authentic Hawaii into corporate events and meetings.”
The resort has also partnered with the Maui Brewing Company to create Grand Wailea Gose (Goh-suh), a craft beer available on tap at the property. Groups can work with Executive Chef Ryan Urig to create special menu items using the beer such as “Maui Beer Can Chicken” for events.