OAHU ON THE MOVE.....HOUSE OF CARDS.....JIM'S DEAL OF THE DAY
Big names are making big waves on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Legendary musician Jimmy Buffett launched his new Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber Resort in Waikiki earlier this year. Donald Trump's Trump Towers is slated to open in November as a hotel on the west end of Waikiki Beach, and it's being billed as Waikiki's first ultra-luxury hotel-condo project in Waikiki in 25 years. It's supposed to be home to a new outlet of the BLT Steakhouse brand.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, just down the beach from the Trump site, recently underwent a $400 million renovation/addition, including a new timeshare tower called the Grand Waikikian, plus a new pool, new five-acre lagoon and a new restaurant, Tropics Bar and Grill. Spokeswoman Dara Young, who stopped by the Star today with some colleagues to talk up Oahu tourism, says there are four waterslides at the hotel, including one that's 77-feet-long; longest in Waikiki.
Over at the Outrigger Reef, they've just finished a $110 million renovation with a new grill and new Hawaiian shows. I'm personally a huge fan of Hawaiian music, and any time you can hear a ukelele or slack-key guitar and Hawaiian lyrics on a warm night with palm trees swaying in the breeze is a great night.
The Ohana Waikiki Beach has a new package that's almost like an all-inclusive resort, where you get breakfast and dinner included at a choice of three breakfast spots and seven dinner places, including everything from Jimmy Buffett's to the International House of Pancakes.
Waikiki seems to have weathered the recession better than some places in Hawaii, but Nancy Daniels of the Outrigger Group says you can still find Ohana hotels in Waikiki for as little as $79 U.S. per night. Rooms at the Outrigger Reef, a lovely spot I first went to back in, uh, 1968, for $159 U.S.
Many folks know Oahu for Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbour and Honolulu but seldom hear about other parts of the island. I did a drive around the southern part of the island last time I was there and it was terrific; lonely beaches and quiet spots to overlook the surf. There's also Sandy Beach, President Obama's favourite body surfing spot. (He's been forbidden to try it again, being slightly dangerous and all, yet they still allow him to try to settle the American health care system, which is nastier than any four-foot wave on Oahu. Go figure.)
Anyway, there are great spots up on the north shore, where thunderous surf rolls in in the winter and the big surfing championships are held at places like Waimea Bay. There's also great hiking in the western part of the island and in and around the Pali cliffs that hug the back of Honolulu. Not to mention Diamond Head, which I wrote about in the Star a couple weeks ago (see photo at right).
So, sure, take the kids to the International Market Place and ride the waves on a surfboard or a canoe, but don't forget there's an entire island to explore with lots of quiet and natural attractions. And some great little towns, including Haleiwa.
HOLIDAY INN HOUSE OF CARDS
Here's something you don't see everyday. Bryan Berg, who seems to have made a name for himself in the States as a "cardstacker," is building a 400-square-foot "Key Card Hotel" made up of plastic hotel "keys." It's said to be the first ever hotel made out of key cards, and who's to argue with that?
Holiday Inn says it's updating more than 3,300 hotels worldwide as part of a $1 billion project.
The "Key Card Hotel" includes a guest bedroom, bathroom and lobby, all with life-sized furniture Berg has fashioned out of Holiday Inn key cards.
Wonder what he studied in school.
JIM'S DEAL OF THE DAY
Sunwing is waiving its fuel surcharge on all sun packages, and that means savings worth $200 per couple. This deal applies to just about every city, beach and island in Sunwing’s line-up, including