Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-letter: March 1, 2004

THE WESTIN MAUI began a $400,000 renovation of all indoor meetings facilities. The 758-room resort will refit all meetings spaces and ballrooms with new carpeting, paint and wallpaper to match the tropical feel of the enhanced lobby. High speed Internet access, and in some cases, wireless capabilities, will be available in the new meetings areas. The anticipated completion date is the second quarter of this year. In addition, the $4 million, 13,000-square-foot Spa Helani -- a prototype for the Westin brand -- will open in April with 16 treatment rooms. For details, visit www.westinmaui.com.

THE MAUI OCEAN CENTER is offering members of the travel and hospitality industries complimentary admission March 7 to 13, as well as a 20% discount at the Seascape Maalaea Restaurant and Reef Cafe. It's all part the Ocean Center's sixth anniversary celebration, which features a new exhibit entitled "Life on the Ledge," showcasing Hawaii's seashells. For information on the attraction, call (808) 270-7000 or surf over to www.mauioceancenter.com/home.html.

UNITED AIRLINES will reinstate its daily nonstop service between Chicago (O'Hare) and Honolulu beginning June 3. A Boeing 777 aircraft with 36 first class and 312 economy class seats will service the route. United offers 24 daily nonstop flights from the Mainland to Hawaii.

MAUI'S ULAPALAKUA THING, an agricultural showcase and food festival, will take place April 24. The community event is held on the ground of Ulupalakua Ranch and Tedeschi Vineyards and celebrates Hawaii-grown food, products, produce and flora. Not to be missed are the Maui Cattlemen Association's huli huli beef sandwiches and the famous Caesar Salad by the Maui Culinary Academy. There's also a chef's challenge, hosted by Mark Ellman of Maui Tacos and Penne Pasta. The event is open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; parking is free. Admission is $20 for adults; admission for children 10 and under is free. For details, call (808) 878-2839 or visit www.ulupalakuathing.com.

NUMBERS GAME: The numbers of out-of-state cruise visitors to Hawaii rose 2.3% in 2003 compared with the previous year, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. A total of 230,495 visitors sailed aboard 47 Hawaii home-ported and out-of-state cruise ships. Cruise visitors last year accounted for 3.6% of the state's total visitors, with more than 65% of them also staying overnight in island hotels.

THE HONOLULU ACADEMY ART CENTER AT LINEKONA, the Academy's educational art facility, will host a juried exhibition of prints March 24 to April 11. The 76th annual display features etchings, lithographs, relief, screen prints, and monotypes.

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