Image: Honolulu
Marco Garcia  /  AP
Waikiki beach
updated 5/28/2009 11:36:11 AM ET 2009-05-28T15:36:11

With tourism in the dumps, Hawaii hotels are offering unprecedented discounts, freebies and other incentives in hopes of drawing tourists to the islands and survive the economic slump.

The wide range of perks include free nights, rental cars, upgraded rooms, 2-for-1 activities, daily breakfast, round of golf, free parking, spa treatments and discounted luau tickets. However, some are getting even more creative, offering everything from the use of $200,000 Bentley convertible to a Nintendo Wii.

Hawaii prefers using the phrase "adding value." But truth is, it's getting down right cheap to stay here with only two-thirds of hotel rooms booked.

"It's the steepest discounts we've seen since we started tracking the industry," said Joseph Toy, president and chief executive of Hospitality Advisors LLC, a hotel-industry consultant. "Now we see a combination of incentives plus direct room discounts, and that we haven't seen in combination," showing just how dramatically "demand has fallen."

Hawaii's average daily room rate in the first quarter fell 12.4 percent to $189, resulting in a 23.1 percent drop in revenues for hotels statewide, according to Hospitality Advisors. Throw in the incentives, such as free breakfast, and the deals have never been better.

Every hotel has offers on its Web sites or through travel agencies. The industry is being forced to ante up because fewer tourists are coming to Hawaii. And the ones who do make it here, are spending less.

Toy said the incentives were being offered as early as 2007 and the offers accelerated last year. They are now standard. Hotels prefer incentives instead of discounting the room rate, because once they drop rates, it's hard to bring them back up.

"The incentives can only work for so long. If the downturn is so steep and dramatic, as it is here, then you start to see the rate go down," Toy said. "Now you're seeing tremendous value in the market."

Here are some of the more interesting deals:

The Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki has a "Wii Are Family Package," which includes unlimited use of a Nintendo Wii in the room, free parking, in-room microwave and complimentary popcorn for $149 a night (offer good through Dec. 19).

John Lopianetzky, general manager of the hotel, said with free in-room entertainment, the package is "so affordable that guests will find their money will go farther on other activities."

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On the other hand, most guests probably don't come to Hawaii to play video games and watch movies, though it does rain here on occasion.

Slideshow: Magical Maui The Halekulani, one of the finest properties in Waikiki, pampers hundreds of women every day at its spa. Now it has something for the guys with an "Art In Motion" package, which offers the use of a Maserati Gran Turismo, Bentley Continental GTC, Lotus Elise or Lotus Exige S.

The vehicles are included by booking one of Halekulani's premier suites, which includes the Royal Suite, Vera Wang Suite or the Orchid Suite. They run about $7,000 a night. Speeding tickets are not covered.

Guests staying in the standard guest rooms can also order the cars by the day if available. The rates are run from $250 for the Lotus Elise to $995 for the Bentley.

Don't want to drive? The Bentley and Maserati are offered with the option of a chauffeur.

Dollar-friendly destinationsPeter Shaindlin, chief operating officer of the Halekulani Corp., said Halekulani "appeals to the style, sensibility and needs of the globally affluent."

"It is only befitting that Halekulani offer the world's finest automobiles, whose global brands exude a comparable passion for excellence as reflected in their superior technology, style and innovation," he said.

The Hilton is giving away money in its "50 Years of Aloha" special, offered through Dec. 20 at all four Hilton properties in Hawaii: Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa in Waikiki, Doubletree Alana Hotel Waikiki and Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa on Maui.

The deal marks Hawaii's 50th anniversary of statehood. It includes a $50 resort credit, a fifth night at $50 and for numismatists, a "keepsake memento" of two commemorative 2009 Hawaii quarters. Approximate value of two quarters: 50 cents.

Cars and coins not your thing? The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island is offering a $1,000 resort credit to be used for anything that can be charged to the room. The minimum stay is four nights and the deal is good May 13-July 31 and Aug. 15-Sept. 30.

The only catch is that rooms start at $725 a night. It is after all, just one of three hotels in the state and 109 nationally given the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award.

Slideshow: The heart of Hawaii The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas on Kauai has a special starting rate from $312 a night, which includes 2-for-1 surfing lessons, fifth night free and a $50 daily resort credit. The deal must be booked by May 31 for travel through Dec. 25.

In this market, it seems everyone is looking for a bailout. So Aston Hotels & Resorts is offering a "Vacation Bailout" special, with 40-percent discounts at its 25 properties statewide, for travel June 12 to Dec. 21.

Prices run as low as $88 a night at the Aston Maui Lu in West Maui or $90 a night at the Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel.

Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, said hotels are just trying to stay afloat financially, keep people working and fill airplanes.

This all adds up to a great time to travel.

"There are truly deals to be had," Towill said. "We've always felt that our destination is a great value. You really got your money's worth. Well, you're getting your money's worth and then some now."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Hawaiian paradise

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  1. Waimea Canyon, Kauai

    Kalalau Valley, on Kauai's west side, is more than 3,000 feet deep and provides stunning panoramic views. Waimea is nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." (John Borthwick / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii

    Men row their Hawaiian outrigger canoe towards Waikiki beach, with Diamond Head in the background. Outrigger canoes are now used for recreation purposes and to ride the waves, but in times past they were the main means of transportation between the Hawaiian Islands. (Mike Nelson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The tranquil waters of Oahu

    Hanauma Bay is one of the finest stretches of beach in the world. (Eric L Wheater / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Surfer's paradise

    Australian Luke Egan competes on Oahu's North Shore, one of the best places in Hawaii to ride the big waves. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Water colors

    A school of manini fish pass over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Wailua Falls

    The beautiful 83-foot tiered Wailua Falls is an easily accessible, must-see waterfall on the island of Kauai. Wailua Falls was first made famous when it was featured in the television show, "Fantasy Island." (James Randklev / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Emerald peaks

    The iconic, towering emerald peaks of the 1,200-foot Iao Needle, stand out in Maui's Iao Valley State Park. (Adina Tovy Amsel / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Historic reminder

    The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, marks the resting place of many of the battleship's 1,177 crew members who lost their lives during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 by the Japanese. The memorial is the "ground zero" of World War II. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Aloha!

    Hula dancers welcome the sailing crew of a Hokule'a, a canoe, into Kailua Bay. (Ronen Zilberman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The heart of Hawaii

    The sun sets on Honolulu, Oahu's capital and Hawaii's largest, most populous city. (Robert Y. Ono / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Polynesian heat

    Brandon OFueo Maneafaiga, 23, of Waianae, Hawaii balances two flaming knifes during the 13th Annual World Fireknife Championship at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Laie, Hawaii. (Lucy Pemoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Explosive attraction

    People watch from a viewing area as an explosion takes place on Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Legend says the volcano goddess Pele dug fire pits as she traveled from island to island looking for a home with her brothers and sisters. She finally settled at Kilauea's summit, where she lives at Halemaumau crater. (Leigh Hilbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Forces of nature

    The Dragon's Teeth are bizarre lava formations eroded by wind and salt spray at Makalua-puna Point. (Karl Lehmann / Lonely Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Heaven on Earth

    Astronomy observatories are seen on the peak of the snow-covered, Mauna Kea mountain near Hilo, Hawaii. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano. (Tim Wright / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. On the way to Sainthood

    Tourists walk through a cemetery past the grave, left, of Father Damien at Kalawao, Hawaii. After cancer patient Audrey Toguchi prayed to Father Damien, known for helping leprosy patients in Hawaii, to help her, and her cancer went away, Pope Benedict XVI approved the case in July 2008 as Damien's second miracle, opening the way for the 19th century Belgian priest to be declared a saint. (Eric Risberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Cool colors

    Rainbow eucalyptus (Mindanao Gum) trees grow in Keanae, Maui. Once a year, these magnificent trees shed their bark and take on the colors of the rainbow. (James Randklev / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Magic Sands

    An aerial view of La'aloa Beach Park or Magic Sands beach in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The beach is called Magic Sands because when rough surf hits, all of the sand is emptied off the beach and temporarily moved out to sea. (Brian Powers / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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