Visitors to the 50th state will notice plenty of changes in their old island haunts. Among them:


• Ala Moana Center, which bills itself as the largest open-air shopping facility in the world, recently added a 200,000-square-foot Nordstrom, along with about 80,000 more square feet of retail space.

The addition of the high-end retailer, which is based in Seattle, was about 15 years in the making. It is the fifth expansion of the Oahu center since it opened in 1959.


• The Royal Hawaiian, which for many people embodies Waikiki, will close around June 1 for a $110 million renovation and will not reopen until mid-December.

The rehab of the "Pink Palace of the Pacific" will include $25 million for the guest rooms as well as upgrades to the pool area and changes to the lobby area that will open up the view.

The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927 and was owned until 1959 by Matson Navigation Co., which operated passenger-ship service to Hawaii. The hotel, which now has 528 rooms, cost $4 million to build.

Information: 808-923-7311, 866-716-8109,

• Hilton Hawaiian Village, already a giant with 3,206 rooms in Waikiki, will grow even bigger by year's end.

The property will open a tower called the Grand Waikikian. The 331-room time share was recently topped off and is aiming for a December opening. One- and two-bedroom units cost $40,000 to $80,000 for seven days every year. Penthouses start at $100,000.

The village also recently renovated the artificial Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon, sinking $15 million into the rehab of the five-acre spot. Fresh seawater flows into the lagoon through seven saltwater wells, so water is replaced about five times a day.

The lagoon was part of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser's Hawaiian Village development that opened in the 1950s. The property became a Hilton in 1961.

Information: 808-949-4321 or 800-445-8667, — Catharine Hamm


September looks likely for the opening of the Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, a luxury boutique hotel on Poipu Beach on the southern side of Kauai, a stretch of coastline dominated by the Sheraton Kauai Resort, the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and other large resorts. The Koa Kea was reconstructed from the ground up on the footprint of the Poipu Beach Hotel, which was shuttered after it was extensively damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

The Koa Kea will have 121 guest rooms, including nine suites, with nightly rates from $395 to $2,325. The property, in the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio, will also have a spa with five treatment rooms and a restaurant.

Information:, 877-806-2288. — Vani Rangachar


• The posh Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua reopened earlier this year after a $180 million renovation that incorporates a Hawaiian sense of place into the stylish West Maui resort.

Among the changes are an increased emphasis on local culture, with native Hawaiian artwork and a lava-stone bar. Guest rooms have new furnishings and updated features, including flat-screen TVs, DVD players, iPod docking stations and wireless Internet access.

In the public areas, five restaurants have been redesigned, a children's pool has been added, and a fitness center, with views of the Pacific, is now open. In June, a 17,500-square-foot spa is scheduled to open.

Information: 800-542-8680,

• The Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa also made significant changes recently, with a $60 million renovation that added a dramatic infinity pool, among other features.

The adults-only pool has six illuminated over-water cabanas and overlooks the Pacific; it is one of six pools at the resort.

Information: 888-236-2427,

• Room renovations and other updates are under way at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, 800-888-6100,, and at the Sheraton Maui Resort, 866-716-8109, — Rosemary McClure


The small-ship line American Safari Cruises will begin seven-night cruises among the islands starting Dec. 19. The company, which also operates cruises in Alaska, Baja California and the Pacific Northwest, will sail the 36-passenger American Explorer to two of the smaller islands — Molokai and Lanai — and to Lahaina on Maui and the Big Island.

Included in the fares, which range from $3,995 to $8,295 per person, double occupancy, is a helicopter tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Information: 888-862-8881, — Vani Rangachar