Autumn rates fall as hoteliers, operators push shoulder season

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Looking to boost visitor counts for autumn, traditionally Hawaii's slowest shoulder season, hoteliers and wholesalers are putting a dent in the cost of an island vacation with package pricing that focuses on free extra nights and component-inclusive pricing.

With rates expected to rise between 5% and 20% in 2007 and what looks like a modest slowdown under way -- compared with record-breaking visitor counts in 2005 -- wholesalers and hoteliers are value-pricing fall bookings, offering some of the most significant discounts in recent memory.

With many properties just completing extensive upgrades, some are using the renovation theme as the rationale for price reductions of 20% to 40% off rack rates. For travelers with scheduling flexibility, the discounts are even more appealing.

This may be a sign that Hawaii's tourism boom has peaked, with suppliers discounting to keep occupancies at levels that have given Hawaii the highest occupancies, and second-highest average room rates in the U.S. (New York is No. 1.)

"We can't expect growth in both occupancies and room rates to continue at the pace we saw in 2005, especially with the continued decline in the number of visitors from Japan," said Keith Vieira, Starwood's senior vice president for Hawaii.

"We're still seeing growth, but we may have to do more in terms of added value to keep occupancies at current levels," he added. "We're going to be more creative."

Deals and steals

Here's a look at what agents and their customers can expect through mid-December, with some deals valid through the Christmas season.

" Aqua Hotels & Resorts is offering a Divine Diva package through Dec. 20. The $1,278 deal, based on double or triple occupancy, includes a five-night stay at the Aqua Palms & Spa or a three-night stay in a one-bedroom suite at the Aqua Bamboo & Spa and daily continental breakfast. Call (866) 406-2782 or visit www.aquaresorts.com.

" Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island is offering a Suite Experience package through Dec. 19 featuring one-bedroom suite accommodations, gifts and discounts on activities and services. Call (800) HILTONS or go to www.hiltowaikoloavillage.com.

" Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, the chain's newest Hawaii property, offers fourth nights free on stays through Dec. 18 that are booked at regular rack rates of $395 to $2,200. Call (800) 321-4666 or visit www.fourseasons.com.

" Aloha Beach Resort on Kauai is offering four fall specials such as the Ocean View, which includes daily breakfast for $145 per night and the three-night Romance package, with midsize car rental, dining credit and extras starting at $495, double. Call (888) 823-5111 or visit www.abrkauai.com.

" Sheraton Kauai Resort highlights recently completed room renovations with the Fall Ocean Promotion. The deal includes a room upgrade, a fourth night free and breakfast. Available through Dec. 20 on minimum three-night bookings. Agents earn a $10 commission per room night booked (request 4Ocean rate). Call (888) 488-3535 or visit www.sheratonkauai.com.

" Grand Wailea Hotel & Spa is discounting per-night rates by 30% to 40% on bookings through Dec. 15, with Garden Deluxe accommodations priced at $405, compared with $675 normally; Ocean King rooms at $450, vs. $750; and Alii Suites at $1,020, compared with $1,700. For more information, call (800) 888-6100.

" Kaanapali Beach Hotel peddles the five-night Maui Adventure, with oceanview room, compact car and activity and dining options, for $1,880, double (a savings of $150), through Dec. 20. Call (800) 262-8450 or visit www.kbhmaui.com.

" Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa's Sunsational package guarantees a room upgrade with a five-night minimum stay that includes daily breakfast on bookings through Dec. 22. Call (800) 782-9488 or go to www.sheratonkeauhou.com.

" Outrigger Waikiki is offering a spa package to introduce the new rooftop Waikiki Plantation Spa. The three-night deal, available through Dec. 21, is priced at $1,194 for oceanview units and $1,338 for oceanfront and includes a $200 spa credit. Call (800) OUT-RIGG or visit www.outriggerwaikiki.com.

Wholesaler deals

" Apple Vacations is offering a free Hertz economy car rental on the Neighbor Islands or free transfers and lei greeting on Oahu, with five-night packages  good for travel through Feb. 10 that are booked before Nov. 17. Air-inclusive packages leaving California start at less than $1,400. Go to www.myappleonline.com and click on the "Just for Travel Agents" link.

" Continental Airlines Vacations has teamed up with ResortQuest Hawaii for the Aloha Free Deals promotion through Dec. 21, providing meal, activity and merchandise credits for children accompanying paying adults. Call (800) 634-5555 or visit http://continental.covacations.com.

" United Vacations is offering numerous specials through Dec. 15, including a five-night stay at ResortQuest Kaanapali Shores condominium starting at $1,548 for a one-bedroom booking through Nov. 9 and again from Nov. 29 to Dec. 7 (with departure from Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington).

Four-night vacation packages at the Sheraton Waikiki on Oahu start at $1,558. Kauai vacations at the Outrigger Lae Nani start at $1,540, including a discounted companion airfare and free Alamo rental car.

Five-night packages at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island start at $2,188. All prices are based on double occupancy.

Call (800) 328-6877 or book via www.vaxvacationaccess.com, Amadeus AgentNet, Sabre Vacations, Worldspan Vacation Select or www.vacation.com.

" Trafalgar Tours is offering a $300 discount per couple on Hawaii vacations, paid in full by Oct. 27, for travel completed by Dec. 13. Tours include air, some meals, tours, airport transfers and the services of an accompanying tour director. Call (800) 854-0103 or visit www.trafalgar.com.

" Southwest Airlines Vacations, new to the Hawaii marketplace, debuted tours with departures from more than 40 U.S. cities, including second-tier gateways like Baltimore, Phoenix, San Antonio and Orlando.

Southwest's four-night packages, based on double occupancy with departure from San Diego, start at $2,418 for the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Oahu's Ko Olina Resort; $2,688 at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui; and $1,798 at the Ala Mona Hotel near Waikiki.  For more information, visit www.southwestvacations.com.

To contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].

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