Top-flight options, from Kauai boutique hotel to rental car refinement

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Koa Kea roomWhat's the latest and greatest in luxury product across the Aloha State? From boutique digs on Kauai to new first-class amenities in the air, a sampling follows:


Discriminating travelers looking for upscale Kauai accommodations will want to consider a stay at the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, a 121-room luxury boutique property fronting Poipu Beach that features a fusion of old Hawaii charm and contemporary elegance.

"It's really an antique Hawaii shell with a brand-new interior," said Chris Steuri, general manager, describing the resort's buildings and layout. "And I think that in itself is very intriguing. We really followed that concept of contrasting old and new."

Reopened in 2009, the property was formerly known as the Poipu Beach Hotel and suffered extensive damage when Hurricane Iniki struck the Garden Isle in 1992. The dilapidated remnants of the hotel went unused for nearly 14 years before ownership began a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2006.

Perfect for honeymooners, the Koa Kea offers guests top-notch service, a no-nonsense spa, the fantastic Red Salt restaurant and a collection of spacious, elegantly appointed oceanfront suites that are close to the beach.

Oceanview rooms start at $600 a night, while oceanview suites begin at $1,650. Visit www.koakea.com.  

High-end horsepower

Visitors looking to explore Oahu may want to forgo the more traditional circle-island group tour and hire their own high-performance convertible for the day from the folks at Hawaii Luxury Car Rentals. From Corvettes and Vipers to Escalades and Porsches, the Honolulu company rents a range of luxury vehicles to clients looking for refined transportation.

"The majority of the time, people say it's one of the best things they did on their entire trip," said Bill Taz, manager at Hawaii Luxury Car Rentals. "People tell us all the time that it just made their vacation."

Taz said daytrips around the island are typical, but his company often rents cars to customers for multiple days. Hawaii Luxury Car Rentals also delivers vehicles to clients staying in Waikiki-area hotels at no charge and can drop off cars elsewhere across Oahu for an added fee. Commissionable to agents, daily fees run from $199 to $599 a day. Visit www.hiluxurycarrentals.com.  

Edible upgrade

Hawaiian Airlines has added several Airbus A330-200 aircraft to its fleet over the past couple of years, operating the new planes on its recently introduced Asia service and long-available routes linking Honolulu to mainland destinations like Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The planes offer travelers improved first-class amenities, including more seat width and pitch than the company's Boeing 767s, along with state-of-the-art personal entertainment systems loaded with on-demand movies, TV shows, music and games.

Beginning this June, Hawaiian will offer nonstop service between Honolulu and New York's Kennedy Airport and plans to upgrade its first-class meal service on all of its North American flights.

"Currently we do the tapas-style service," said Blaine Miyasato, Hawaiian's vice president of product development. "Our plan is to introduce courses -- so you have salad and soup courses, the entree, the dessert course -- and to improve the presentation to make it much more reflective of what we do internationally."

Miyasato said Hawaiian also tries to use locally sourced produce whenever possible. "The idea is that people get the sights, sounds, tastes and feel of Hawaii the minute they interact with us," he added. "And that is definitely reflected in our food choices." Visit www.hawaiianair.com.
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