Hilton’s largest hotel, the 2,860-room Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, rests on 22 beachfront acres in Honolulu and has its own lagoon that can be seen from the Great Lawn, the most expansive outdoor meeting space in Waikiki. We talked with the hotel’s managing director, Debi Bishop—who has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry—about the state of meetings in the Aloha State and what’s new for the historic resort (it’s where in 1961 Elvis Presley filmed “Blue Hawaii,” y’know).
How have meetings in Hawaii changed since you started out?
Hawaii is a fabulous destination, but now we’re competing with the rest of the world. Years ago, everyone came to Hawaii. It was the place to go, but now there are a lot of new and fabulous resorts around the world. With that said, we’re also getting [more international meetings], especially from countries like the Far East.
With the increased competition, what does Hawaii’s future look like?
[Hawaii will] always will be a popular destination. If U.S. companies want to go offshore, but don’t want to venture all the way to places like Europe, they’ll look to Hawaii.
January was the official relaunch of the hotel’s historic 348-room Ali’i Tower. Why is this significant for planners?
Ali’i Tower has its own check-in; the rooms are nicely appointed; and it has its own executive lounge in the lobby area. It’s like a hotel within a hotel and a great place for exclusive meetings. [Planners can] buy out the entire tower for their group. The tower’s pool deck [and bar] is the best place in the whole resort to privately watch fireworks.