Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: January 27, 2003

AFTER $30 MILLION in renovations, the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel still isn't completed. Recently, the Kalakaua Avenue property welcomed a new eating establishment and retailer. Wolfgang Puck Express features a boldly colored contemporary decor with indoor and outdoor dining. Meanwhile, guests can shop for Island-style clothing or rent snorkel equipment, surfboards and boogie boards at Hawaii Five-O. "Not only do both of these shops enhance our overall goal of bringing the fun of the beach back to Waikiki, they offer convenient locations ... to grab a quick bite or do some shopping," said Steve Townsend, general manager of the Waikiki Beach Hotel. Could it be the best is yet to come? Kauai Market and the ever-popular ice cream shop Cold Stone Creamery are scheduled to open soon. To book the resort, call (800) 922-7866 or surf over to www.astonwaikiki.com on the Web.

INTERISLAND CRUISES may be back in business in Hawaii, according to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who reportedly inserted a provision into a Congressional spending bill that would allow Norwegian Cruise Line to operate foreign-built ships in Hawaii under U.S. flags. The legislation would allow NCL to sail its two still-to-be-completed Project America vessels in Hawaii without making foreign calls, essentially providing NCL the same rights interisland cruiser American Classic Voyages enjoyed before it went bankrupt in November 2001. Currently, the Passenger Services Act prohibits foreign ships from operating between U.S. ports without obtaining a federal exception or making a foreign stop during the trip. NCL's current Hawaii itineraries offer seven-day cruises aboard the Norwegian Star, and 10- and 11-day cruises on the Norwegian Wind. Both tours stop at Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati to comply with the Passenger Services Act.

HOLLAND AMERICA Line's Statendam once again missed its scheduled visit to Molokai after it altered course to rescue crewmembers on a yacht in distress. Delays -- and uncertainties in the weather -- caused the Statendam to cancel its second scheduled port call to the Friendly Isle. The first was aborted on Dec. 28 when high winds and rough seas made conditions too dangerous to tender passengers ashore, where eager shopkeepers and local entertainers awaited with groups of demonstrators concerned about potential damage to environmental and cultural resources. A spokesperson from the Molokai Visitors Bureau, however, said that the protesters played no role in the decision to move on to another island.

ARE THEY READY to play? Super Bowl XXXVII just ended and the NFL's best players are arriving in Hawaii for fun and sun ... and a little bit of football. Before the Pro Bowl kickoff this Sunday at 12:30, fans can enjoy a week of activities all over the island, including the NFL Experience in Waikiki. Visit www.probowl.com for more information.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS joined with Sheraton Hotels and Hilton Hotels to make the park-and-fly process out of Los Angeles and San Francisco more convenient this year. We're talking reduced rates for airport hotel stays, 24-hour shuttles to the airport and parking for the duration of the trip. Accommodations near LAX or SFO start at $122 per person, per night, with parking included. In addition, the Take-Off Tuesdays deal offers clients departing on a Tuesday from Los Angeles or San Francisco with two free nights in Hawaii. Fine print: Clients must stay a minimum of seven nights at specific hotels on Oahu and Maui with travel completed by March 25. Call Pleasant Holidays at (800) 448-3333 for more information or visit Pleasant's agents-only site at www.PleasantAgent.com.

CULTURAL UPDATE
• "Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing" will be on display at the Contemporary Museum in Makiki Heights Jan. 31 to March 30. In conjunction with this exhibit, the museum is hosting a variety of family-oriented activities, including watching surfboard shapers and airbrush artists on Feb. 8 or and chatting with surf photographer Jon Mozo, who will talk about his work on Feb. 26. Additional events and information can be found at www.tcmhi.org.
• The Honolulu Academy of Arts will begin renovations for the new George and Nancy Ellis Gallery of Filipino Arts Feb. 3. George Ellis is curating the reinstallation of the gallery -- scheduled for completion in June -- before his retirement on Feb. 1.
• Clients can check out traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music at the Waikiki Beach Marriott's open-air Moana Terrace every night.

PACKAGED GOODS
• Each passenger will receive free admission into the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu or a free two-hour whale watching tour on Maui with purchase of any SunTrips Oahu or Maui vacation package. Book by Jan. 31 for departures through April 9. Call (800) 786-8747 or log onto www.suntrips.com.
• Get out of the cold! Classic Custom Vacations is offering winter deals at Starwood Resorts in Hawaii, including the seventh night free at the Sheraton Waikiki and Sheraton Maui; the fifth night free and daily breakfast for two at the Molokai Ranch Lodge; a Jeep rental with stays at the Westin Maui; and unlimited use of all beach/ocean equipment at Kapalua Bay Hotel & Ocean Villas. For details, call (800) 221-3949.

ON THE WEB: The Calendar of Events on the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau Web site, at www.gohawaii.com, can be sorted by date or island and can feature events in a selection of categories. On tap for this week is "Unstrung Heroes," a performance by the Hawaii Chamber Orchestra Society Jan. 31 at the Doris Duke at the Academy Theater on Oahu; the Senior PGA MasterCard Championship at the Hualalai Golf Course on the Big Island Jan. 31 to Feb. 2; and a host of events celebrating the Chinese New Year around the islands.

CLARIFICATION
Beginning Feb. 7, Pleasant Holidays will offer direct service with American Trans Air from St. Petersburg, Fla., to Oahu five days per week and Maui six days per week. Five-night air-inclusive packages start at $788 for Oahu and $898 for Maui, per person, double.

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