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All-inclusive Resort…Not in Hawaii!

Why No All-Inclusive Resort Packages

A common inquiry made on Yahoo Answers and other Hawaii blogs is a request for recommendations for the best all-inclusive resort to stay at.  Well, in Hawaii, they are often disappointed to find out that there is no such thing.  Why?  Two major reasons stand out.


One of the disadvantages of living in the most remote islands in the world is that everything has to be shipped in.  While the general view of living in a tropical paradise includes having fresh fruits at your beckoning whenever you choose, the reality is that there simply isn’t any way to raise enough produce to supply the almost 1 million residents, let alone the millions of visitors to the islands.

The majority of foods, and other goods, are imported.  People on the mainland often pay $50-60 cents/lb for bananas, people in Hawaii pay in excess of $1.00/lb for island grown bananas.  How about pineapples?  After all, at one time, Hawaii supplied 2/3rds of the world’s supply of this exotic fruit.  Frequently found at $3-4 each throughout mainland grocery stores, it will cost you $5 or more in Hawaii.  Likewise, there are few egg producing farms and dairy farms are equally rare, so milk and eggs are also flown in from California.

Add labor for the activities people expect in an all-inclusive resort and you’re pricing yourself out of what most people would consider acceptable for an all-inclusive resort, even in Hawaii.  Fuel for wave-runners, jet ski’s and the like costs about 20% more than elsewhere in the country.  I could go on, but you get the idea.

Its Hawaii!

Probably the #1 reason why you won’t find an all-inclusive resort in Hawaii is the simple fact that it is Hawaii!

There are very few people who come to Hawaii who will stay within their resort, no matter how nice.  Disney’s new Aulani Resort is an example that comes to mind.  There are enough amenities and activities to keep your family happy and content within the resort, but I seriously doubt you will find anyone who has spent the majority of their time on-site, even there!

There is so much to see and do, even if that’s just taking leisurely drives around the island exploring.  Oahu has over 100 beaches beckoning visitors and residents alike.  Waikiki is bustling with shopping and beach activities for every activity level.  Honolulu offers some of the best and varied restaurant fare to be found anywhere!

As for the other islands, they offer even more tropical scenery than Oahu and therefore more reason to leave your hotel/resort.  Kauai is renown for its lush rainforests and waterfalls, Waimea Canyon and the Napali sea-cliffs, begs to be seen.

Maui offers Haleakala National Park, the winding road to Hana, snorkeling at Molokini, and whale-watching during the winter months – not conducive to staying within a resort.

The Big Island invites visitors to explore its variety of terrain (from desert to rainforests to sub-alpine), waterfalls, star-gazing at Mauna Kea, snorkeling with Manta rays, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, all scattered throughout the island.  All of which works against the very concept of an all-inclusive resort.

An All-inclusive Resort Package on Lanai?

Once known as the Pineapple Isle since 98% of it was owned by James Dole, of Dole Pineapple and later Castle & Cooke, it had little else to offer visitors.  Since the demise of the pineapple industry in Hawaii, Lanai re-invented itself as a resort destination and features two 5-star resorts that are “the draw” to Lanai these days…an escape for Honolulu residents as well as stressed tourists looking to unwind.  So, if there was ever a place to offer an all-inclusive resort, this would be the place.

Since Castle & Cooke, the company that owned almost all of the 141-square-mile island, recently sold the land to Lawrence J. Ellison, chief executive of Oracle, the software giant, inclusive of these two resorts, perhaps such a package may be in his future plans.  Time will tell.

Better Off Without an All-inclusive Resort

I think you can see that it would be impossible for any one resort to package all that Hawaii offers within its boundaries making an all-inclusive resort package impractical for visitors to the Aloha state!  Don’t see this as a negative, but rather a positive prospect to getting the most of your time and money while exploring this tropical paradise.

*Footnote:  Interesting timing.  I just read an article entitled “All-inclusive Rates at Non-All-Inclusive Resorts“, which is kind of an  Ala-carte pricing of activities and meal plans that you can selectively put your own package together.  Perhaps this trend may find its way here to Hawaii.


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