Luxury Travel Advisor recently chatted with some notable Hawaii tour operators and learned that solid years for both Mexico and the Caribbean is causing Hawaii to suffer a moderate dip in numbers this year.
But whatever Hawaii lost this year will come back even stronger next year as the destination is prime to capitalize on affluent clients looking for the latest luxury resort to vacation at.
Jack E. Richards, president of Pleasany Holidays, says all three getaways, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, are trending up for the 2015 season. And as far as Hawaii goes, you can give all the credit to the affluent clients planning trips to the Aloha State next year.
“One of the clearest trends in Hawaii is that travel there is moving upscale,” says Richards. “Luxury segments are beginning to dominate travel to Hawaii. We don’t see a lot of sales in the lower category hotels. We are seeing huge clusters in sales of four- and five-star resorts.”
And Hawaii will have the properties to accommodate such clients.
Montage Hotels & Resorts announced in 2013 an expansion of its luxury hotel collection with the addition of Montage Kapalua Bay.
The resort, which was formerly The Residences at Kapalua Bay, underwent a multimillion-dollar improvement plan beginning this fall, with plans including 56 Montage branded residences offered for sale and the introduction of a 50-room all-suite Montage hotel.
Located on the island of Maui, Montage Kapalua Bay will join the collection’s current hotels and residences: Montage Laguna Beach, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013, Montage Beverly Hills and Montage Deer Valley.
Like its fellow Montage hotels, Montage Kapalua Bay will celebrate art and artisanship in many forms, including visually, and through culinary and spa offerings. Clients will experience a blend of relaxation, rejuvenation and activation, with every detail celebrating the richness of the Hawaiian culture.
Montage Hotels & Resorts will assume management of the property immediately. While the improvement program is being completed, the property will continue to operate as The Residences at Kapalua Bay on an interim basis.
Andaz Maui at Wailea resort, a five-star resort, officially opened its doors in July of 2013 in the Wailea section of Maui.
“Andaz has been getting quite a bit of buzz,” says Joelle Arriola, Classic Vacations’ product director for Hawaii and South Pacific. “It’s not the same old Hawaiian build. It has that sense of Hawaii , but it is also very modern.”
Andaz, which means "personal style" in Hindi, is the high-end, lifestyle branch of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and features roughly 300 rooms and suites, ranging from 456 to 2,321 square-feet and including seven, three-to-five-bedroom villas.
“Hawaii is looking great for 2015 because the economy is improving and when the economy improves, people tend to travel a bit more upscale,” says Richards. “But I think that overall the new resorts in both Caribbean and Mexico will continue to put pressure on Hawaii and that’s a good thing.”
The Rise of Mexico
“Mexico’s return has definitely hurt some business in the Caribbean and Hawaii, but all three are really hot right now,” said Steven Bradley, MLT Vacations’ product manager for Jamaica. “There is so much buzz in the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica, with all the new brands, products that are expanding there.”
Richards told Luxury Travel Advisor the first few months of the year were especially brutal for Hawaii because the airfares were unusually high.
“The first part of the year was more difficult (selling Hawaii) since there were higher airfares within the market and that combined with a five-percent raise in hotels rates in January, February, March and even April really hurt Hawaii,” says Richards.
“Our Hawaii business depends so much on repeat business and our repeat business all went to Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico this year because fares were some of the highest I’ve ever seen in Hawaii,” says Arriola.
But in May, Richards says domestic seat capacity spiked to three percent and when seat capacity goes up, fares come down.