Butterscotch, the cockatoo, is a highlight of Hilton Waikoloa’s new Big Island Bird Talk. // © 2017 Hilton Waikoloa Village
Feature image (above): Hilton Waikoloa Village features a lagoon with a wide range of activities. // © 2017 Hilton Waikoloa Village
For nearly 30 years, Hilton Waikoloa Village has blazed trails. Since it burst onto the scene as a Hyatt in 1988 before rebranding as a Hilton in 1993, the supersized resort has turned heads with its swimming pools, waterfalls, slides, trams, boats, art and exotic wildlife. It has captivated clients like no other Hawaii Island property.
Over time, of course, newer hotels have commanded attention while established brands have upped the ante on visitor offerings. In response, Hilton’s 62-acre, oceanfront maverick has been going all-out to stay top of mind within traditional Hawaii markets, including families and couples. More recently, it has been making headway with categories such as solo travelers, LGBT guests and foodies.
Families have long favored Hilton Waikoloa’s saltwater snorkeling lagoon, a protected, ocean-fed pool with reef fish and sea turtles. The hotel just added more toys for exploring the four-acre aquatic playground, like canopy-covered pedal boats and adult-size tricycles. Guests can also cruise around the lagoon on stand-up paddleboards and in clear acrylic kayaks, which allows for underwater viewing.
Another plus for multigenerational travelers is the Fishpipe, a splashy ride introduced in 2016. Hilton Waikoloa guests climb inside the transparent, inflated barrel injected with water, then slip, surf and squeal with delight as the barrel rotates for 90 seconds. Called the world’s longest waterslide, it’s an adrenaline-inducing hit with guests.
Then there’s the new Big Island Bird Talk, drawing all ages to the lobby since its June 2017 debut. Hosted by a wildlife specialist, the daily presentation showcases a resident salmon-crested cockatoo named Butterscotch. It’s one of many family-friendly activities covered by the hotel’s daily $35 resort charge, along with a 15-minute photo session; poolside scavenger hunts; and hula, lei making and ukulele lessons.
In order to court more couples, Hilton Waikoloa dreamed up the Hookupu Sunset Dinner in May of this year. As day gives way to evening, couples cuddle in their private cliffside cabana for a five-course candlelit feast. The menu includes lobster and crab cakes, Kona coffee-crusted ribeye and “Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Ukulele” for dessert. The soiree can be customized for up to eight people, making it a great option for friends vacationing together.
As more solo and LGBT travelers head to Hawaii, Hilton Waikoloa is also creating a resort experience that welcomes them. Its new Stay Hilton, Go Out travel package comes with two beverages on arrival, a one-year digital subscription to Out magazine, premium Wi-Fi access and late checkout. The property, which is TAG-certified, recently launched a dedicated Go Out page on its website.
Increasingly, visitors are requesting experiences that connect them to the destination, and Hilton Waikoloa is heeding their call. Many of its restaurants serve locally sourced food from island farms and ranches, from Hamakua mushrooms and Keahole lobster to Kamuela strawberries and tomatoes. Meanwhile, its Kohala Spa has introduced treatments calling on age-old healing ingredients such as taro root, coconut milk, awa root and Hawaiian ginger.
Recognizing the rising numbers of clients thirsting for local craft beer, Hilton Waikoloa now offers the Kona Tap Room, in partnership with Kona Brewing Company. Located just off the lobby, it touts 16 beers on tap plus pub-style dishes such as short-rib sliders with fried quail eggs and lobster mac ’n’ cheese.
As Hilton Waikoloa moves forward, it’s clearly committed to all types of clients.
“Our goal is to present the most choices and variety to our guests in terms of activities, dining, accommodations and more,” said David Givens, general manager of Hilton Waikoloa Village. “We are dedicated to creating a multidimensional resort that can fit all the needs and requirements of our guests and their evolving interests.”