Hawaii hotels offer incentives to vacation at home

Ruby York
Ruby York
Ryan York
Ryan York
Nanette York
Nanette York
Kiara Bosgra
Kiara Bosgra

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - As the economic slowdown continues to impact Hawaii, some good news for kama'aina Wednesday in these difficult times. Great deals at local hotels mean you can enjoy a mini-vacation without hopping on a plane.

It's not something those of us who live here think about doing all that often, but staying at a hotel can be quite a bargain. Kama'aina rates mean you can live like a tourist without paying like one.

The hot Hawaiian sun and beautiful beaches: the main reasons visitors flock to Waikiki. But there aren't as many of them this summer.  Numbers are down, as much as 30 percent from last year.

Among the sea of tourists, you'll find some folks who live here. Meet the York family.

"We were thinking what to do yesterday and my dad was like, 'Let's go to the Hilton Hawaiian Village,'" said Ruby York, a guest at the hotel who lives with her family in Hawaii Kai.

Special kama'aina rates mean locals can stay at Waikiki resorts at a fraction of the cost.

"We're all about supporting each other in Hawaii so that's why we decided to do it," said Nanette York, Ruby's mom. "We called up. The price was right."

"I was jumping around, on the floor excited," added Ruby York.

"I got really excited because I get to do something in the summer before I go back to school," said Kiara Bosgra, Ruby's close friend and neighbor who tagged along.

Rooms are about 20 percent off the regular price, and there are even discounts on food and services.

It's not a typical vacation for people who live here, but there are activities with a local flavor, like an authentic Hawaiian luau, complete with an imu pit to cook the pig.

"And that's the thing," said Roberto Los Banos, executive sous chef at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. "It's to give our guests the taste of what comes out of the imu."

Another attraction is the Duke Kahanamoku lagoon. It has seven salt water wells, pumping in ocean water five times a day, for kayakers and swimmers to enjoy.

"They have a lot of activities and stuff going on that you can do and not just sit around and not do anything," said Ryan York, Ruby's older brother.

The kids start school Thursday, and after Wednesday, they have a pretty cool story to tell.

"I had fun and stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village," said Ruby York.

"And you got to be on TV," said KHNL.

"And I got to be on TV," Ruby added. "Yes!"

Other hotels and shops also have kama'aina discounts. You just have to ask for them.

Many are hoping folks who live here can help keep the local economy going until things pick up again.