George Clooney in Kauai

George Clooney in Kauai to film The Descendants

Hawaii, a destination that, only a few years ago, saw severe dips in tourism numbers, a nose dive in room rates, airline bankruptcies and lift reductions, and frighteningly grey horizons for tourism development, has rebounded like a patient from a coma now brimming with new life.

January’s reports showed a 14% increase in Hawaii visitor spending over the same month last year. In fact, January turned out to be the best one month on record, following a peak December. The $1.3 billion January spending figure came from the 643,616 visitors who visited the Hawaiian islands – an increase of 7% over January 2011.

The Hawaiian islands’ strong post holiday month followed a strong holiday season, noted Hawaii Tourism Authority chief Mike McCartney. Indeed, pent-up demand has been driving much of the interest, he says and that has been bolstered by expanding airlift and large conventions. The biggest regional gains are coming from Canada, the eastern U.S. and Japan – something Hawaii is particularly happy about given the devastating drop in tourism from high-dollar Japan after last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

The rebound in Hawaii tourism began over the summer, possibly a reflection of a stronger U.S. economy. But to prepare for this year’s summer high season airlines are putting their bets on the come line. United Airlines is launching new nonstops from Washington-Dulles International Airport to Honolulu in June, the same month Hawaiian Airlines will be adding daily flights from New York JFK.

Individual Hawaiian islands have also been having some bright days lately. Kauai has been celebrating its presence at last month’s Academy Awards with The Descendants, much of which takes place on the island and showcasing one of the island’s most beautiful spots at Kipu Kai.

“We can definitely thank Hollywood for a lot of our visitor numbers this year,” said Sue Kanoho, Kauai Visitors Bureau executive director. “I am especially pleased that movie audiences are seeing Kauai and the lush, tropical beauty that makes coming to our island so rejuvenating.”George Clooney on the beach in Hawaii

Kauai also featured prominently in last summer’s blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp, Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and Soul Surfer, the gripping story of surfer shark victim Bethany Hamilton.

Aston Hotels and Resorts offers several options for accommodations on Kauai, including a  “Lights! Camera! Aston!” Package. With more than 50 movies to its credit, Kauai offers endless fantasy locations to explore in the footsteps of George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, even Elvis Presley.

Aston’s “Lights! Camera! Aston!” package offers stays at a choice of four hotels and condominium resorts, along with two adult passes for the Hawaii Movie Tour® conducted by Roberts Hawaii. The 6-hour tour includes stops at Kauai’s top movie spots, expert narration, film clips of some of Kauai’s notable movies, and lunch at the rustic Tahiti Nui restaurant recently featured in The Descendants.

Rates start from $149 per night, plus taxes and fees. Three-night minimum stay required. The package is valid through March 31, 2013.

Other winter sale rates at Aston Hotels include:

* Aston Aloha Beach Hotel, $109, Hotel Room Garden View

* Aston Islander on the Beach, $140, Hotel Room Garden View

* Aston at Poipu Kai, $195, One Bedroom Garden View Suite

* Aston Waimea Plantation Cottages, $254, One Bedroom Garden View Cottage

Call: 866-774-2924.