Kaanapali Beach Hotel has passport to family fun

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LAHAINA -- The bright yellow duck with the big black eyes bobs along wavy blue water. A very colorful lei is draped around its neck, the flowers set off by a snorkel mask perched on the duck's brilliant red bill.

He winks. Winks again, and drops beneath the water -- only to pop up seconds later and say:

"Aloha! My name is Koloa Kolohe, which means playful duck in Hawaiian. I am here to tell you all about the fun things you can see and do when you visit Kaanapali Beach Hotel."

Kaanapali's Web site icon speaks volumes about the care and thought that the 430-room hotel puts into its family travel program.

"There is no other children's program like our Aloha Passport for Kids Program," said Luana Paahana, director of marketing at the Maui resort. "Our entire hotel operates on a management philosophy based on family values."

The year-round, complimentary program for children age 12 and under is the heart of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel's commitment to families.

"Perpetuating the Hawaiian culture has always been a priority for us," said Mike White, Kaanapali Beach Hotel's general manager. "Our Aloha Passport for Kids Program is a way for families and children to learn about our island's heritage in an interactive way and have lots of fun, too."

Aloha Passport for Kids is an unsupervised, participatory program that works like this:

Families sign up at Guest Services for the Passport Program, which stresses Hawaiian culture, crafts and traditions. Each child is given his name in Hawaiian and a "passport" that features various "destinations" around the property.

Children from 6 to 12 years old can experience 12 destinations, and 3- to 5-year-olds have an eight-destination passport with activities designed for specifically for them. Even infants to 2-year-olds are included in the program. The very little ones receive a passport card with their Hawaiian name and a baby bucket full of goodies.

A destination is the place where the kids (and parents) participate in various Hawaiian-oriented activities, including hula lessons, lauhala weaving, lei-making and pineapple cutting and design.

Kids also receive a gift and the appropriate stamp in their passports. Gifts include backpacks and sunglasses to beach balls, photo frames, activity books and Hawaiian snorkel ducks.

Parents often join their children in the demonstrations, Paahana said. The favorites are stringing the flower leis, learning about Hawaiian implements and learning to dance the hula.

The hotel itself, set within the Kaanapali Beach Resort, is about four miles from West Maui Airport. It fits nicely on a three-mile stretch of sandy beach on the western shores of Maui, a perfect location for the traditional ceremonial torch-lighting and cliff-diving at the end of each day.

The property opened in 1964 and bills itself as "a moderately priced, five-star location."

It also calls itself a "family-style hotel," where each of its rooms sleeps four comfortably.

Children age 17 and under stay free when using the existing beds and bedding. Rollaways are available for $15 a day; there is no charge for cribs.

Most adjoining rooms have a connecting door. The mini-fridge in all the rooms is a big plus, too, as are baby-sitting arrangements made through the Guest Services desk.

Dining with kids

The Kaanapali Mixed Plate Restaurant serves three all-you-can-eat buffets daily. Children ages 6 to 12 eat at a reduced price; those age 5 and under eat free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Then there is the Tiki Terrace Restaurant, which serves breakfast and dinner and opens onto the Tiki Courtyard for a complimentary hula show and Hawaiian music every night. Here, too, children age 5 and under eat free when ordering from the children's menu and accompanied by a paying adult.

Favorite selections include the Menehune (deep-fried chicken nuggets and curly fries), Sand Slider (a small cheese-and-pepperoni pizza) and the Fisherman (fresh fish fillet and fries). There are the usual hamburgers and jumbo hot dogs, as well.

Accommodations and rates

The hotel is actually four modern buildings on 11 acres, surrounded by tropical gardens and linked by walkways.

The property has a whale-shaped pool, shops and restaurants.

Each guest room is 425 square feet with island decor; a private balcony; a minirefrigerator; cable TV; a safe; an iron and ironing board; a hair dryer and a coffeemaker. Dataport telephones are standard equipment, as is voice mail.

Quoted rates are valid through Dec. 23. From Dec. 24 to 31, a $10 per night surcharge applies.

The Maui, Lanai and Kauai wings are six-story buildings with elevators. Two floors per building are designated non-smoking. Bathrooms feature a full-size bathtub and shower facilities. The Molokai wing is a non-smoking, three-story building. It is not equipped with an elevator. Bathrooms feature shower facilities (no bathtubs).

Activities

Complimentary activities for adults and older children include:
• Hula lessons, including learning the popular Hukilau (net fishing) dance and song.
• Hawaiian storytelling.
• A cultural garden tour.
• Lau printing, which uses the dried seeds of the hala tree as a paintbrush so guests can paint and press tropical blossoms, leaf and fern imprints onto fabric.
• Water sports and beach activities, including rentals for snorkeling, boogie boards and scuba equipment.

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel offers free daily scuba lessons at the pool for guests age 12 and older. It also has a catamaran for snorkeling expeditions, sunset sails and seasonal whale-spotting.

Kaleel Sakakeeny covers the family travel market for Travel Weekly. He can be reached at twed[email protected].

Room key: Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Address: 2525 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
Phone: (800) 262-8450 or (808) 661-0011
Fax: (808) 667-5978
Web:www.kbhmaui.com
Room rates: Vary by view and proximity to the beach. Bedding in all categories is a king plus a single daybed or two double beds. Rates include breakfast for two. Garden View (Kauai and Molokai wings), $195; Partial Ocean View (all wings), $230; Ocean View (Maui, Lanai and Kauai wings), $270; Ocean Front (Kauai and Molokai wings), $290.
Agent incentives: Agents receive 10% commission on all bookings. The hotel's agent incentive program applies to bookings made directly at the hotel or through a tour operator. For every eight nights booked, the agent receives a certificate for one free night at either the Kaanapali Beach Hotel or its sister property, the Plantation Inn Bed and Breakfast. There is no expiration on the program. To join, go to the Our Travel Agent section of the Web site. Password: makana.

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