Visitors to the Aloha State are increasingly looking to come home from their vacations with more than sand in their shoes and selfies with waterfall backdrops on their cellphones. They want growth experiences, and guest experience managers are responding.
While hotels have long offered opportunities for visitors to dip their toes in various activities, sports and skills, intensive courses that jump-start true learning and growth have typically been in short supply. That is changing as interest in wellness and in-depth experiences grows steadily. Hotels are building out their activity programs to offer focused, full- or multiday courses taught by experts. The offerings pair well with luxury properties, where guests have larger budgets for high-end experiences.
"I've seen these things change people's lives," said Mariko Lum, hospitality ambassador at the Lodge at Kukuiula, which last year introduced a slate of multiday courses. "They may not think they can do it, or they may be outside their comfort zone. And then when they go through the training and really accomplish their objective, something they thought they couldn't do, it's really empowering."
According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, produced by the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute, health and wellness travel increased an estimated 43% (to $808 billion) from 2015 to 2020, and the average U.S. "wellness traveler" spent $609 per trip in 2017, 178% more than the average for all tourists.
Here are some Hawaii properties jumping headfirst into the trend:
• The Lodge at Kukuiula: In 2019, this property on Kauai introduced a series of three-day intensive clinics on Hawaii-related activities and sports. Participants gain advanced knowledge and training in each area with hands-on experience. The program kicked off with canoe sailing, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and outrigger canoeing. The latest addition to the menu is crossbow hunting, and the Lodge has plans to add kayak fishing soon.
• Four Seasons Resort Lanai: The technology-forward resort is offering full packages that include an activity -- golf lessons, tennis lessons or guided horseback ride -- coupled with sport-specific massage treatments, yoga and meditation courses. The Zen Golf Wellness package includes a lesson on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, a massage targeting the body parts most stressed by swinging a club, an hourlong yoga class and 30-minute sunrise meditation course.
• Travassa Hana: For travelers with specific fitness goals who only hit top gear with someone barking orders at them, this serene resort on Maui's eastern end offers a private, outdoor boot camp. Instructors take participants around the property for exercises using the tropical surroundings.
• Turtle Bay: For ocean lovers ready to push themselves, the Oahu resort offers the Pro North Shore Guided Waterman tour through the Hans Hedemann Surf School. A seasoned Hawaii waterman guides participants for a full day as they visit different surf and paddle spots.