Fun in the sun is getting cheaper -- even in traditionally pricy Hawaii, and even at the luxurious end of the market -- as the pallid global economy is prompting hoteliers to craft special deals to gin-up business. Some of the most attractive offerings are on Maui, which saw a 15.9% year-over-year drop in visitors in November 2008, according to state tourism officials. Maui, with an average hotel nightly room rate of $220.35, is the most expensive of the six major Hawaiian Islands when it comes to lodging. The statewide average in November was $177.41. But while it would be a stretch to say that paradise is on sale, the traveler's dollar will stretch farther this year. Recent structural upgrades, restaurant makeovers and new, cheaper package deals at lovely Maui retreats such as the Fairmont Kea Lani and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua allow visitors to snare luxe for less in 2009. Many deals are just now kicking-in. On Jan. 4, for example, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts rolled out 30% discounts on room rates, running through Dec. 17, that encompass its Hawaii properties. "We've never had discounts like this," says Wendy Harvey, director of public relations at the Fairmont Kea Lani, an all-suite beachfront hotel located near the Maui seaside town of Wailea. The 30%-off offer applies "to all room categories, including villas,'' according to Harvey. Designed in a Moorish-inspired style and graced with dozens of suites, the Kea Lani also has 37 elegant, two-story villas with private lanais and ocean views. The villas are spacious enough to accommodate two couples or a large family and are a short stroll through lush gardens from Polo Beach.
The Fairmont Kea Lani is a short stroll through lush gardens from Polo Beach.
The hotel completed an upgrade of the adult swimming pool and introduced a new patio restaurant called Ko last summer. Ko serves cuisine inspired by traditional Hawaiian sugar cane plantation food -- fresh fish dishes with fruit and local favorites such as lumpia -- Philippine-style egg rolls. With the 30% discounts, one-bedroom suites start at $340, and include refrigerators, microwave ovens and access to free washer and dryers. The Fairmont Kea Lani is also dispensing with the daily resort fee that's often charged at posh Hawaii properties. Some blackout dates apply, and rooms must be booked 21 days in advance.