Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-letter: Jan. 5, 2004

PARKER RANCH ON THE BIG ISLAND of Hawaii has rolled out its 2004 visitor activities and prices. Start with the Parker Ranch Museum and Visitor Center [admission $8.50 adults], featuring 150 years of ranching history. There are two historic ranch homes, Puuopelu and Mana Hale [admission $8.50 for both homes]. Other fun activities include wagon rides, sporting clays, horseback riding and ATV adventures. The Historic Homes and Gardens is also a perfect place to get married. Prices begin at $500 for a two-hour ceremony-site rental, accommodating up to 400 guests. (808) 885-7355;

THE GRAND WAILEA RESORT HOTEL & SPA is expected to complete the 18-month, $2.3 million upgrade of its 780 guestrooms in February. All 52 suites were renovated earlier this year at a cost of $2.4 million. Rooms will reflect a "Hawaiian feel with European touches" in soft hues such as taupe, chartreuse, leaf green and camel brown, officials said. Double beds will be replaced with queen beds, a new chaise, a side table and seating area in 308 guestrooms. In the Chapel and Lagoon wings, 120 sofa beds will be added to rooms with king-size beds. Other new furnishings include nightstand lamps, desk lamps, headboards, coverlets, accent pillows and lamps in seating areas. (800) 888-6100;

AVERAGE DAILY VISITOR SPENDING on Maui rose $10 to $173 per person per day in the first nine months of 2003, according to the Depart. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. "The statistics from this survey showcase the diversity and uniqueness of each island in the type of visitors they attract, their choice of accommodations and their purpose of trips," said Marsha Wienert, the state tourism liaison. "Visitor spending is our gauge as to what impact visitors have on our economy." Daily visitor spending dropped slightly on Kauai, the Big Island and Molokai during the same period. The largest percentage of travelers who came to get married or honeymoon went to Lanai. Lodging, food and beverages, and shopping resulted in the largest expenditures.

HAWAII'S CRUISE SHIP INDUSTRY notched an increase in visitors in the first nine months of 2003, but on-shore spending dropped, according to data released by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. Some 169,730 visitors arrived by air to board cruise ships or embarked on cruise ships that toured the Islands, a 2.3 % increase over the same period last year. Average daily on-shore visitor spending was $99, a drop from $104 during the same period in 2002. Data also indicate that more than 65% of cruise ship passengers stayed in hotels before or after sailing.

HYATT REGENCY MAUI RESORT & SPA launched an online activity guide that helps travelers book activities in advance before arriving on the Valley Isle. Managed by Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa's Aloha Services department, the guide at is a free service that helps guests book tours and activities, including luaus or snorkeling tours that often sell out. Hyatt's activities are highlighted, but guests can also book with several other companies and make arrangements for tours on neighboring islands. Ticket confirmation is e-mailed; tickets are picked up at Hyatt's Aloha Services counter. Cancellations made 48 hours before the scheduled activity are eligible for a refund. (808) 667-4727;;

DOMESTIC AIR SEATS to Hawaii reached a record high, jumping 9% with more than 490,000 new nonstop air seats added in 2003, according to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. Honolulu accounts for 65.5% of all air seats from the mainland, totaling 3.9 million. Kahului, Maui, jumped from 18.1% of air seats in the state in 2000 to 23.3% in 2003. Air seats to Kona accounted for 6.5% in 2003, while 4.7% of all seats went to Lihue, Kauai.

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