Outrigger Wailea Resort puts families in focus

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amilies staying at the Outrigger Wailea Resort will get a little more than the usual Hawaii dose of sand, sea and surf.

Of course, officials at the resort want families to enjoy that aspect of their stays, but they also want them to learn a little something about the islands, as well.

With that goal in mind, the Outrigger Wailea has tailored packages and activities -- particularly for families -- around Hawaii's culture and history.

"It's a whole mind-set at the property," said Tim Alex, marketing manager for Outrigger Hotels and Resorts.

The resort even has a director of Hawaiian culture, who works with the staff on giving guests free, personalized tours.

"Hawaii is a place steeped in culture. [The programs] extend past grass huts and hula skirts and get into things like native Hawaiians' respect for the land and for the sea," Alex said.

"We have a lot of different programs, but whenever possible we tie in cultural experiences."

One of those programs is Outrigger's Ho'olokahi Hawaiian option for families, which introduces guests to Hawaii's languages, arts, crafts and traditions through various family-friendly activities.

"The Hawaiian cultural activities are a real value-add," said Coleen Nadvornik, an agent with Los Gatos Travel in Los Gatos, Calif. "Outrigger Wailea scores high on the list of customer satisfaction."

Nadvornik should know. She's sent more than 50 families to Outrigger Wailea with her recommendations.

"It's perfect for families," she said. "Especially those that want to be in the middle of the action and want value and quality without the high prices."

The property recently extended its family package, Kids Connect Free & Eat Free Too, through Dec. 18.

The plan offers families two connecting rooms for the price of one, plus free meals for children age 12 and younger. The free meals apply to the children's menus only.

The package is priced at $425 per night for oceanview rooms, $475 for oceanfront and $525 for deluxe oceanfront.

Commission is 10%. No minimum stay is required.

For families staying three or more nights, the resort gives each child a free Island Explorer Kit -- complete with a backpack, compass, binoculars, sunglasses and educational booklets.

The kit and its activity program, co-produced with the University of Hawaii, includes information on family day trips such as humpback whale-watching in Lahaina Harbor or the Lahaina-Ka'anapali antique, steam-powered railroad tour.

"Personally, that's my favorite program," Alex said. "The Island Explorer Kit offers families an idea of what the Hawaiian culture is all about."

Meanwhile, the resort's day camp is in tune with the family theme. The Cowabunga Kids Club, for children ages 5 to 12, is designed to get families involved in Hawaiian culture through fun and educational activities, Alex said.

Activities include learning to speak Hawaiian; making leis; learning about outrigger canoes; exploring fish ponds and tidal pools; playing Hawaiian musical instruments; making Hawaiian crafts; whale- and turtle-watching and searching for geckos and seashells; and creating crafts and art objects found in the environment.

The camp -- priced at $50 a day ($60 for 2003) -- includes lunch, a T-shirt and craft materials. It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 24 hours' advanced notice is required.

For those off hours when parents may want a little time to themselves, child-care services are available around the clock for $12 per hour for the first child. There is a three-hour minimum.

The rate is $14 an hour between midnight and 6 a.m.; additional fees apply on holidays.

For information on child-care services, contact Christine Taylor at the Nanny Connection at (808) 875-4777 or visit www.thenannyconnection.com.

One of the biggest advantages for families, according to Kathy Dziedzic, marketing manager for the Outrigger Wailea property, is the size of the guest rooms, which are a minimum of 480 square feet.

"One of the advantages of this hotel is that we have big, family-friendly rooms and we have a lot of connecting rooms," she said. "Connecting rooms are perfect for families -- that means two separate areas, two TVs, two Nintendos."

All rooms at the resort have either a king bed or two double beds; rooms with kings have a sofa-sleeper. Amenities include coffeemakers, data ports, irons, minirefrigerators, hair dryers and age-appropriate, in-room movies. Free cribs are available upon request.

Resort officials point out that 80% of rooms at the property have ocean views.

And Outrigger is encouraging agents to check out those ocean views first-hand by offering agent discounts, including:

• Fifty percent off regular published rates at most Outrigger hotels in Hawaii all year.

• A two-night stay with the first booking of four nights or longer for agents completing a short course on Outrigger. Future bookings get a $5 bonus credit applicable to stays or merchandise.

• A $50 booking bonus (above commission) for each stay of five nights or longer at select Outrigger properties, including the Outrigger Wailea Resort, through Dec. 18.

Agents should contact Jennifer Sesoko by phone at (808) 921-6807 or at [email protected] for more on agent promotions.

For additional information, call (800) 367-2960 or visit www.outriggerwailea.com.

Family Travel editor Kaleel Sakakeeny can be reached at [email protected].

Outrigger set to spin spooky tales

HONOLULU -- Strange encounters with the unknown, haunted houses and temples, ancient bones, goblins and ghosts in the graveyards -- all will take center stage at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts this Halloween.

Outrigger will present the free, family-friendly Spooky Tales of the Islands at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach on Oahu Oct. 28 and at the Outrigger Waikoloa Beach on the Big Island Oct. 31.

Author Rick Carroll, the creator of "Chicken Skin, True Spooky Stories of Hawaii" and its five sequels, will be on hand to share some of Hawaii's strangest and spookiest stories.

The stories have been collected from native Hawaiians, journalists, authors, scientists and even skeptics -- all of whom claim to have experienced the inexplicable in Hawaii.

In addition, those in attendance will be invited to share their personal experiences with the unexplained.

Rates for October at the Outrigger Waikiki on Oahu begin at $150 per night, while rates at the Outrigger Waikoloa Beach on the Big Island begin at $189 per night.

For additional information or reservations, agents should call (800) OUTRIGGER or visit www.outrigger.com.

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