Hotel Online
News for the Hospitality Executive



In Hawaii the Big Island's Four Seasons Resort and Honolulu's
Alan Wong's Restaurant Top Zagat's Survey


NEW YORK Jan. 13, 2009 - Zagat Survey has released the results of its 2009 Hawaii Survey, which includes ratings and reviews of the finest restaurants, hotels, attractions, golf courses, nightspots and shops on the islands. As with all Zagat surveys, the ratings and reviews are based on the opinions of local consumers - 4,149 in total.

Feeling the Pinch: When asked what effect the weakening economy has had on their dining habits, 34% of surveyors report eating out less, 36% say they eat at less expensive places, and 40% are being more sensitive to menu prices. Roughly 34% are cutting back on appetizers, desserts, and alcohol.

"No industry, including the hospitality industry, is immune to the current economic crisis, said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "While we wait for a return of consumer confidence, there is good news for travelers: we are seeing more value-added offers in Hawaii, even at the top hotels, and dining prices are below the U.S. average."

Top Restaurants: Oahu is cited by 87% of respondents as having the best dining, and 29% say Waikiki is the best neighborhood for restaurants. Half of the Survey's top 20 eateries are on Oahu, including the No. 1 for Food, Alan Wong's, which serves Hawaii Regional cuisine. Gourmands gush that Wong's food is "prepared to perfection" and "artfully presented". Evidence of its "outstanding" fare, this year's Most Popular Restaurant is Roy's, with multiple locations around the state. 

Dollars and Cents: According to the survey, the average cost of a meal in Hawaii is $33.18, which is just below the national average of $34.03, and a relative bargain compared to San Francisco ($38.70), New York ($40.78) or Las Vegas ($44.44). As for tipping, Hawaiians give an average of 18.4% compared to the national average of 19%. 

Keep It Local: On par with national trends, 62% of surveyors say they are willing to spend more for sustainably raised ingredients, while 48% say it's important that the food they eat be locally grown or raised. Happily, most of the islands' restaurants focus on farm-to-table fare using area produce and fresh fish.

Service: When asked what irritates them most, 77% of surveyors cite poor service. Complaints about food, prices, noise, crowding and parking cumulatively only amount to 23%. Two restaurants that were voted No. 1 for Service on their respective islands, the Big Island's Pahu i'a and Maui's Ferraro's, both happen to be in Four Seasons resorts. 

Top Hotels and Resorts: With an overall score of 28 out of 30, the Big Island Four Seasons was voted Hawaii's Top Hotel. Following closely behind is another Four Seasons, in Maui. These two hotels are also the top two large resorts nationally according to Zagat's 2009 Top US Hotels, Resorts and Spas guide. Showing its dominance, the Four Seasons Koele and the Four Seasons Manele Bay, both in Lanai, ranked 3 and 5. Of the top 5 Hawaii hotels, only the Halekulani is outside the Four Seasons chain.

They Like The Nightlife: Hawaii's night owls spend an average of $52.87 on an evening out, with 38% preferring a venue with live Hawaiian music, 34% choosing a cocktail lounge and 31% a neighborhood bar. The Survey's Most Popular nightlife venue Duke's Canoe Club in Waikiki, and the No. 1 spot for Appeal, Waikiki's upscale lounge House Without A Key, feature local performers. Surveyors don't buy the specialty cocktail trend (33% say it's "an excuse to charge more") or bottle service (48% call it "a rip-off").

Natural Beauties: Not surprisingly, beaches are a favorite aspect of the islands according to 60% of respondents. Some 57% of surveyors say the natural landscape is what they love the most about Hawaii, and they vote the state's most dramatic natural attraction, the Big Island's Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, No. 1 for Appeal.

Name Brand Bonanza: A wave of retail has washed over Oahu, with expansions at several major complexes. Ala Moana Center, already the largest open-air mall and filled with international designers, added a new wing and the state's first Nordstrom's department store. Nine of the Top 10 stores (ranked by Quality of merchandise) are found in Ala Moana. Meanwhile, Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Center finished a refurb, adding apparel-maker Marciano, watch retailer Tourneau, and spiffed-up branches of Bulgari, Fendi, Hermes, Juicy Couture and LeSportsac. For new sites of local labels such as apparel retailer Blue Ginger, jeweler Na Hoku and Mana Hawaii, specializing in authentic, locally made gifts, check out the Waikiki Beach Walk.

FORE! : Golfers tip their visors to Maui's Kapalua Plantation, naming the site of the 2009 PGA Tour season opener Hawaii's Top Course. Meanwhile, duffers look forward to several re-openings in the coming year, including the reworking of two Jack Nicklaus runs at the Lihue Kauai Lagoons and the newly re-opened Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Mauna Kea course at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

The Guide in Detail: Ratings and reviews of Hawaii's restaurants, hotels, nightspots, attractions, and shops can be found in the new guidebook as well as online at and via the award-winning mobile website, The guide also breaks out venues by neighborhood and special features (including Noteworthy Newcomers, People Watching, Teen Appeal and Views) and includes maps of each island. The 2009 Hawaii Travel guide ($13.95) was edited by Donna Marino Wilkins, along with locally based writers Wanda Adams, Jeanette Foster, Jason Genegabus, Napua Leong, Stacy Pope, Paula Rath, and local consultant Lynn Cook. The guide is available at all major bookstores, through, or by calling toll free 888-371-5440. A summary and stat sheets with additional survey questions and full rankings of restaurants and establishments by location are available upon request. 

About Zagat Survey, LLC
Known as the "burgundy bible," Zagat Survey is the world's most trusted source for information about where to eat, drink, stay and play around the globe, and as such has become a symbol of quality. Zagat Survey rates and reviews airlines, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, resorts, shopping, spas, and a range of other entertainment categories in over 100 countries and has been lauded as the "most up-to-date, comprehensive and reliable guides ever published" and as "a necessity second only to a valid credit card." Zagat content is available in print, on the Web, on the Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems, on BlackBerry, on mobile phones, and on TV. For more information, visit

Zagat Survey, LLC
Also See: Castle & Cooke Spending $50-million to Renovate and Rebrand The Lodge at Koele to Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele; Also Adding $10 million in Meeting Space to the Four Seasons Resort Lana`i at Manele Bay / July 2006



To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.OnlineSearch
Home | Welcome| Hospitality News | Classifieds| One-on-One |
Viewpoint Forum | Industry Resources | Press Releases
Please contact Hotel.Onlinewith your comments and suggestions.