Political Forums Continue Through July
I would like to extend a sincere mahalo to all those who came to our gubernatorial forum on Monday at the Prince Waikiki with candidates Governor Ige and Congresswoman Hanabusa. In case you missed it, our debate was featured on KITV 4 News, which can viewed here, and made the front page of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, here. It was a great way to start our week, full of scintillating discussion sparked by probing questions asked by both our audience, as well as our panelists, Diane Ako and Allison Schaefers. Mahalo to our panelists, moderator Mike Buck, and our host, Kisan Jo and the Prince Waikiki team.
If you missed it, not to worry: our next political forum will be for the Lieutenant Governor’s race, on Friday, July 13, also at the Prince Waikiki, from 10 am - 12 noon. Candidates vying for the title of Lieutenant Governor will be sharing their platform on key issues relevant to the visitor industry.
Featured candidates, moderator, and panelists:
This event is free and open to all members of HLTA. We encourage you to bring your management teams and associates; please register below.
Engineers Advisory Council (EAC) Meeting
Mark your calendars for an exciting double-header at the July EAC meeting, on July 19th at the Sheraton Waikiki. Generous co-sponsors VivoAquatics and Best Buy for Business will be making presentations and donating a dozen door prizes including a 49” outdoor TV worth over $2,500!
Please RSVP to Dean Nakasone at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 16th if you wish to attend. Mahalo for your support and cooperation. Note: $25 to attend if your organization is a current HLTA and EAC member. If not, you’ll be charged $75. Only attendees of bona fide EAC member organizations are eligible for door prizes, including the TV.
Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo
e look forward to seeing you all at the 2018 Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo on July 11th and 12th at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. We pride ourselves on giving members opportunities, such as the HLHF Expo, to showcase your products and services to other businesses, while networking and building lasting relationships.
This year, Women in Lodging is hosting their annual educational forum, CANNABIS IN THE WORKPLACE: What Employers Need to Know. I encourage you to register and attend this event, as this is a concern now facing many businesses . Last year, WIL hosted a very informative forum on human trafficking which reviewed indicators of trafficking within the industry, and covered steps that members can take to address this issue. With cannabis in the workplace as another timely subject matter, I am looking forward to hearing the discussions that ensue.
For more information about the forum or to register, see below.
Another of our committees, the Hospitality Housekeeping Council, will be hosting a meeting that coincides with the HLHF Expo on July 12th. The Council is growing both on Oahu and Hawaii Island with plans to expand statewide. They always have an outstanding turn out for their monthly meetings. Congratulations, Housekeeping Council and keep up your great work. If you are not yet a part of the Council and would like to be, please see below for more information.
“Na Hoku O’ Ka’anapali” Inaugural Recipient, Angela Nolan
Congratulations to Board Member Angela Nolan, Vice President of Resort Operations for Vistana Signature Experiences. Angela has just been named the first “Na Hoku O’ Ka’anapali,” by the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association.
The title of ‘Na Hoku O’ Ka’anapali’ is bestowed upon individuals who give back to the community, are respected by their peers, and simply put, exemplify the best of Ka’anapali.
Angela is not only a Board Member of HLTA but also a member of the Executive Board. She is also the current Maui Chapter Chairperson. Furthermore, she serves on the board of the Maui Visitors Bureau, American Resort Development Association, and the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association.
Congratulations, Angela: your leadership in the visitor industry is recognized and appreciated by us all.
What a lively discussion we had this morning between the two leading candidates for Governor in the Democratic Primary, Governor David Ige, and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. Held at the Prince Waikiki, the forum was well-attended by a couple hundred leaders, stakeholders, and associates of the hospitality industry. The event was moderated by Mike Buck of Salem Media Group, and excellent questions were posed by Honolulu Star-Advertiser Waikiki Bureau Chief, Allison Schaefers Dubovsky, and KITV4 Weekend News Anchor, Diane Ako. The audience also asked questions pertaining to the candidate’s positions on key visitor industry issues and they also got to ask each other questions. The next forum, which once again will be co-sponsored by HLTA, the Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i, Waikiki Improvement Association, and the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, will be with the Lieutenant Governor Candidates on Friday, July 13th, at the Prince Waikiki from 10:30 am -12:00 pm. Kudos to Prince Resorts Hawai'i President Kisan Jo and his team for hosting these forums.
Kauai Chamber of Commerce General Membership Meeting (GMM) Exploring the world of STEM!
This past Tuesday, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association joined the Family and Friends of Agriculture and the Hawaii State Science Olympiad in sponsoring the Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s second quarter GMM at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Spa. This is the third year in a row that HLTA has engaged with the Kauai Chamber in supporting their membership meetings. The Star Wars-themed event focused in on the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and recognized talented science scholars from across the state. I was joined by HLTA Kauai Chapter Chair Jim Braman, and Chapter Vice-Chair Paul Toner - who was hosting the event at his property. During my address to the attendees, I highlighted the significance of STEM in our educational institutions and the important role that it plays in our visitor industry. I addressed the common misperception held by some that tourism is simply just a “service industry” which makes it unappealing to the millennial generation. The visitor industry, in fact touches nearly all facets of our economy, especially in the field of STEM; this is evident through HLTA’s embrace of committees such as our Engineer’s Advisory Council, HYPE, and Hospitality I.T. Council. I also took a moment to recognize one of my guests that evening, Laura Richards, General Manager of the Hanalei Colony Resort, whose property became a community hub during the Kauai floods recovery.
A little bit of background on Laura and her property - the Hanalei Colony Resort, located northwest of Wainiha Bay, was forced to shut down operations til September, due to the heavy damage that was caused to the North Shore of Kauai. Laura and her team, however, stepped up to the plate and became a beacon of light for their community by housing disaster relief teams and doubling up as a distribution center for food and medical services. Additionally, Laura opened her doors to the Hanalei Elementary, middle, and high schools to hold satellite classes for their students until the end of the semester. At the Kauai Chamber dinner, HLTA awarded gift certificates to the six teachers who exemplified the best of what it means to be an educator. The gifts were presented by Kauai Chapter hoteliers Jim Braman, Paul Toner, and Laura Richards to the Kauai District Superintendent, Bill Arakaki.
Kauai Marriott Resort – 5 years of interns
Prior to the Kauai Chamber of Commerce dinner on Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet with Paul Toner and his Director of Human Resources, Chuck Brady, for a very special occasion. Sitting in the room with us were ten remarkable students, from the high school and collegiate levels, who are all currently interning at the Kauai Marriott Resort. The students span five different graduating classes and all have one thing in common; they are either attending, or are a product of, Kauai High School. Also joining us for our afternoon meeting was Kauai High’s hospitality head, Charlene Navarro, who was the proud recipient of our 2018 Na Po’e Pa’ahana Educator of the Year award. I have pointed to her as a stellar example of what a hospitality educator looks like, and the proof in the poi is her students are securing internships (many of them recurring) at top-notch resorts. I would like to commend Charlene and the team at the Kauai Marriott Resort for their mentorship to these budding youth, and I would like to wish these interns the best in all their future endeavors…the sky is the limit.
Scholarships with the Pauahi Foundation
Providing education-related opportunities is something I hold near and dear to my heart. HLTA, in partnership with the Pauahi Foundation, has committed to grant financial opportunities to native Hawaiian students looking to pursue a career in the tourism Industry.
This year, the Pouhana Hokele Scholarship was awarded to two college students who exemplified outstanding contributions in their community and have an interest in working in Hospitality. This year’s scholarship recipients were honored at a dinner at Kamehameha- Kapalama School which was attended by Dean Nakasone, Bonnie Kiyabu of the Hyatt Regency and a proud Warrior alum, and yours truly. This year’s honorees are :
Camryn Chinen, Kamehameha Schools - Kapalama
For five years, Camryn was a Hawaiian language and history student. She is currently studying hospitality at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and plans to move back home in hopes of landing a job at Aulani Disney Resort & Spa in Ko ‘Olina. Camryn wants to share her knowledge of the Hawaiian Culture with visitors, and provide them with an authentic experience and begin her career in hotel management.
Lia Ikeda, Kamehameha Schools – Ka'anapali
Lia Ikeda always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. Having grown up on a hotel property in Ka'anapali, she learned about the inner workings of a hotel from a very young age. She is a current student at the University of California Irvine and is determined to find a job in the marketing department of a hotel. Lia wants to take what she’s learned and apply her knowledge to connect with people through creative campaigns driven by data.
Damien Stack, Kamehameha Schools - Kea’au
As announced in a previous column, through this partnership with the Pauahi Foundation, we also award one high school senior the Don Ho Scholarship to a student pursuing post-secondary studies in art and music. This year’s Don Ho Scholarship recipient is Damien Stack from Kamehameha Schools-Kea’au on Hawaii Island.
Damien’s experience in composing music and performing in musical theatre productions, not only made him a qualified candidate, but his passion in the arts made him this year’s selected scholar. This fall, he plans to study Musical Arts/Musical Theatre at University of Portland to continue pursuing his dreams of becoming a performing artist and sharing his work with the world.
Bringing Locals Back to Waikiki
If you know me, you know how much I love music and have probably heard me say there needs to be more venues featuring local musicians to encourage more of our residents to frequent Waikiki. Back in the day, Waikiki used to be the spot for many locals to surf, swim, cruise, and go enjoy a local artist or band play at a small hidden venue or at a hip place along Kalakaua Avenue. Bringing back that concept is the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, and I couldn’t be more excited.
General Manager Lynette Eastman collaborated with Paulele Alcon, music promoter and local entrepreneur of Hawaii’s Finest Clothing to introduce a 4 Sunday summer concert series, “Revive the Live Pool Side” featuring Kapena, Poly Finest Fest Artists & Sammielz, Glenn Awong & Maoli and other guest artists. The intent is to take locals back to the Waikiki of yester-year, while simultaneously offering Surfjack guests a memorable experience right in the heart of the hotel.
This past Sunday was the second concert of the 4-part series. The next Revive the Live Pool Side concerts will be on July 29 & August 19. Kudos to the Surfjack for bringing visitors and locals together to enjoy and appreciate the musical talent from our islands.
Register to Vote
Now, more than ever, is the time to take action. Elections represent an opportunity to incite change. Registering to vote, and voting, is a fundamentally American democratic right and privilege and it would be a shame to squander it. I strongly encourage everyone to register to vote. The primary election is approaching rapidly, and the deadline to register to vote is in just two weeks.
Furthermore, take the time to research your potential representatives. Be an informed voter, and elect officials who will be strong advocates for our industry issues. You can register to vote online, and request absentee ballots as well.
Primary Election Registration Deadline: July 12th
Primary Election: August 11th
General Election Registration Deadline: October 8th
General Election: November 6th
Save the Date! HIP 8/1
Our upcoming Hospitality Industry Pau Hana is an event you’re not going to want to miss! This time we’re adding a new spin to our quarterly networking event. Mark your calendars for August 1 from 5pm to 7 pm at Lucky Strike at Ala Moana Shopping Center for our Political HIP: MEET THE CANDIDATES!
HLTA-endorsed candidates will be in attendance to meet and mingle with all of you. Please join us for an evening of networking, ono grinds, and complimentary bowling. Registration will be available on our website soon!
19th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament
We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for our 19th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament, to be held at the Prince Golf Course on August 9th.
Education is one of the pillars of HLTA, and I believe that scholarships help to provide the future generation with opportunities they may otherwise not experience.
We continue to grant funds to a diverse group of students at both high school and post-secondary education institutions over the course of the year. Last year, in commemoration of our 70th Anniversary, I was proud to introduce Active and Allied Scholarships in the amount of $2,500 each and three $1,000 Ho’okipa Scholarships to outstanding high school seniors in addition to the numerous other scholarships we facilitate annually.
In order to make these scholarships possible we are asking for sponsorships, team registrations, and prize donations. If you're interested in participating in our tournament, please click the link below. If you have any questions, please contact Vice President Dean Nakasone at email@example.com
VASH 20th Anniversary
HLTA, in coordination with the Waikiki Improvement Association and Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH), co-hosted the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai'i's 20th Anniversary Reception on Wednesday, June 20th.
As many of you know, the mission of VASH is “to share aloha with visitors who have been victims of a crime or other adversities, and to provide follow-up assistance and support in an effort to create a positive memory of their stay in our islands.”
The partnership was an obvious one, as HLTA has played a major role in supporting VASH financially, through our Visitor Industry Charity Walk, and by serving on their Board of Directors. Additionally, HLTA also works closely with the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's office in securing accommodations for visitors who return to provide testimony as victims or witnesses of crime during their stay.
At the reception, Waikiki stakeholders including Honolulu Chief of Police Susan Ballard, Rick Fried, Chair of Hawaii Tourism Authority, Rick Egged, President of Waikiki Improvement Association, and myself commended VASH and their many volunteers for the admirable work that they do. Congratulations on twenty years of esteemed work... here's to twenty more!
Meeting with Governor Ige on Senate Bill 2699
This past Monday, a delegation of 11 visitor industry executives and stakeholders joined me in an important meeting with Governor David Ige. The meeting was convened to discuss the industry’s strong opposition to Senate Bill 2699, which would have extremely negative implications for Hawai’i’s lodging industry. As a refresher, SB2699 proposes to implement the 10.25% transient accommodations tax on “resort fees” - which is defined in the bill as any charge or surcharge imposed by an operator, owner, or representative thereof to a transient for the use of the transient accommodation's property, services, or amenities.
The meeting was productive, as we laid out our arguments and personally delivered to the Governor a petition letter signed by 1,900 members of the visitor industry statewide, urging his veto to this short-sighted bill.
The Governor has until June 25th to issue his “intent to veto” list to the Hawaii State Legislature. Stay tuned as we keep you apprised of the measure’s impending outcome.
Gubernatorial Debate, July 2nd
The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, in coordination with Retail Merchants of Hawaii, Waikiki Improvement Association, and Waikiki Neighborhood Board No. 9, are hosting this gubernatorial debate
July 2nd, 10am-12pm
Be an informed voter and come join us.
"Lodging industry opposes tax hike," Honolulu Star-Advertiser
For those who may have missed this story, you can find it online here “Lodging industry opposes tax hike”.
I am quoted in the article stating that “the measure is unfair given the State Council on Revenues’ recent projection that this year’s tax collections would grow by $125 million, ‘thanks in large part to the tourism industry’s strength.’ ‘With such a large surplus making its way into state coffers … why are we adding an additional burden on our hotels and visitors?’”
Additionally, the article quoted several other members from across the industry including Jerry Gibson, area vice president of Hilton Hawaii and vice president and managing director of Turtle Bay Resort, who shared that “he fears if the bill becomes law, which would follow January’s 1 percent TAT increase, it could cause some tourists to rethink whether they can ‘really afford to come.’ ‘If we tip the scale, our greatest economic driver is in jeopardy.’”
Eric Gil, Local 5 Unite Here Secretary- treasurer, “said the union doesn’t support the final version because it believes it could have unintended consequences. ‘Nickel-and-diming undermines guest satisfaction,’ … ‘It affects tipping, and it could impact banquet bookings and other business.’”
Rick Egged, President of the Waikiki Improvement Association, “said the organization opposes ambiguity in the bill’s current version, which ‘defines resort fees as virtually anything that a hotel charges, which is not what TAT was meant to cover.’”
Our next step is a meeting with Governor Ige to share our concerns on this flawed measure. At this meeting we will be bringing the Governor an updated petition letter with additional signatures that have or will come in over the next couple days. Therefore, I would like to encourage all our members to please make one last push to your teams to sign on to our letter. Please send all additional petition forms to Jared Higashi of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 10:00 am on Monday, June 18th if you would like to be included.
As we head into the second half of 2018, we are starting to ramp up our efforts leading to the upcoming political elections. This year, we have invited the Waikiki Improvement Association, Retail Merchants of Hawaii, and the Waikiki Neighborhood Board to join us in hosting political forums for some of our high-profile races. At this point, we have two political forums that we are pleased to confirm.
We will start the election season with a Gubernatorial forum featuring candidates Governor David Ige and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa which will take place at the Prince Waikiki on July 2nd at 10:30 am. The following week, we will host a Lieutenant Governor forum with candidates Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, State Senator Josh Green, State Senator Jill Tokuda, and former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto at the Prince Waikiki on July 13th at 10:30 am.
With advocacy as one of our major missions, it is imperative that we continue to bring these political educational opportunities to you. Therefore, I would like to encourage all of you to take advantage of these forums as they will serve as platforms for our candidates’ positions on the major challenges and issues facing the visitor industry.
Should you have any questions concerning these events, please feel free to contact Jared Higashi at email@example.com. If you would like to attend, I would highly encourage you to register, using the links below.
Strike Out Homelessness Bowling Tournament
A huge mahalo to everyone who spent a part of their Kamehameha Day helping us Strike Out Homelessness! Our first Oahu Charity Walk Bowling Tournament took place on Monday, June 11th at Aiea Bowl and it was an evening filled with fun, good eats (which Aiea Bowl is noted for), fellowship, and even included a country music karaoke competition.
In an effort to provide more financial assistance for organizations that work directly with the homeless on Oahu, HLTA teamed up with Salem Media to launch the inaugural bowling tournament. This year, Dependable Hawaiian Express (DHX) was the presenting sponsor of the event. Thank you to all the sponsor teams that participated this year:
1. Colliers International
2. Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa *
3. ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach*
4. Waikiki Resort Hotel *
5. Aqua-Aston Hospitality *
6. Outrigger Enterprises Group *
7. Interstate Restoration *
8. G4S Security
9. Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach *
10. HLTA Engineers Council *
11. TNT Tinting *
12. DHX *
13. Dave & Buster’s
14. Hoku Tours/Roberts Hawaii *
15. Lucky Strike Social Honolulu *
16. Soldier 2 Soldier
17. Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
18. Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club *
20. Country 97.5 *
*denotes recognition of HLTA members
At the end of the evening, Salem Media presented HLTA and the Visitor Industry Charity Walk with a $10,000 check that will go towards helping us combat homelessness . Mahalo to Dita Holifield, General Manager of Salem Media and her team for leading the charge on our successful bowling tournament. Of course, this fun-filled event would not have been possible without our generous donors, who contributed our prizes, and helped build excitement for all our attendees.
Mahalo to all our Bowling Tournament donors for your kokua!
‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, ALSCO, Blue Note Hawaii, DFS T Galleria, DUKE’S Waikiki, Enterprise Rent a Car, Germaine’s Luau, Hampton Inn & Suites-Kapolei, Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites, LeSportsac Hawaii, Polynesian Cultural Center, Roberts Hawaii/Magic of Polynesia, Sea Life Park Hawaii, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Sheraton Waikiki Resort/Rum Fire, Te Moana Nui at Princess Kaiulani, Waikiki Resort, and Zippy’s Restaurants.
TSURUTONTAN Opens in Waikiki
This past Wednesday , Jared Higashi and I had the pleasure of visiting the brand-new restaurant at the Royal Hawaiian Center, TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie. For those who know me, I am an avid enthusiast of Japanese food, and I have to say that these udon noodles were some of the best I’ve ever had. The noodles are all made in-house, and they are served through a variety of interesting and flavorful dishes. On their pre-opening media day, I had the distinct honor of meeting the owners and management team, while sampling udon dishes mixed with flavors such as Truffle Crème with Crab and Mushroom, Uni (Sea Urchin), and a Poke inspired dish to name a few.
A big Hawaiian-style welcome to Waikiki to Takuma Lathrop, President, Dining Innovation USA West, Toshi Hayakawa, President, Dining Innovation North America & Europe, and the team at TsuruTonTan for the amazing foodie experience, as we welcome you to the Waikiki ohana. New York and now Hawai’i are the only two locations of this restaurant chain outside of Japan. Also, congratulations to Marleen Akau, Sam Shenkus, and Nani Hirosane of the Royal Hawaiian Center management team for the grand opening of another fabulous new restaurant at RHC.
HYPE Turns Two
Wednesday evening, HLTA’s HYPE Committee commemorated its second anniversary at the newly renovated Prince Waikiki’s Muliwai Pool Deck. As we celebrated our Hospitality’s Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs, I was pleased to see a mix of both fresh and familiar faces. As a stout advocate of mentoring, I have always believed that we should be encouraging the next generation in their career development, and I was heartened to see many HLTA members who share my sentiments.
For those of you who are new to HYPE, it is a sub-committee of HLTA which I created as a nexus to bridge the gap between seasoned visitor industry veterans and the succeeding generation, to encourage participation with the association from the young professional demographic, and to engage topics that are based on the millennial work culture. I would like to send a special mahalo to the Prince Waikiki and our HYPE Board, particularly Allied Chair Marissa Ross of Standard Textile, and Active Chair Keri Brown of the Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger, for hosting such a wonderful party. The food was ono, the company was lively, and I am looking forward to HYPE’s continued progress through the remainder of 2018.
Generational Mentoring 2018 Graduation
Wednesday June 6th officially marked the close of the 2018 Generational Mentoring Program. The class’ graduation luncheon was held at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa where program co-founder, Art Sarkissian, Founder of Here & Now Consulting joined me in presenting certificates to the mentors and mentees. Art and I conceptualized this program in 2016 with the intent to provide the best and brightest of our universities’ students with invaluable exposure to current leaders in the industry.
The mentees are given the opportunity to not only learn from but grow a relationship with esteemed executives from our number one economic sector. Additionally, our General Manager participants have also expressed their gratitude for this program as they have been inspired by their time spent with these amazing students. This was the culmination of our second class of the Generational Mentoring Program; our first class, last year, included students from Brigham Young University – Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This year, we also included students from the University of Hawaii, West Oahu. I would like to sincerely thank all of our program participants; mentees, university faculty, and our exceptional member mentors (listed below) for their time, effort, and guidance.
Claudia Hanson, Ray-Anne Dela Cruz, Satoko Davidson.
As you all know, last year we introduced a few new scholarships to commemorate HLTA’s 70th anniversary, one of which was the Ho’okipa scholarship. Three students representing several counties were awarded $1,000 for their interest in travel and tourism and for their pursuit of potential careers in the business. The Ho’okipa Scholarship is granted to high school students enrolled in a hospitality program or taking hospitality courses. Last year’s recipients came from Maui High School, Kauai High School, and Kaimuki High School. This year’s recipients are:
Claudia Hanson, Kapa‘a High School
Claudia is active in her school’s Interact Club and National Honor Society, where she has been involved in many community service projects. She is the class valedictorian and graduated with honors in career and technical education. During her years at Kapa’a High School, Claudia was enrolled in Public Human Services, an introduction to Hospitality, and Culinary courses. She plans to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara to major in sociology and pursue a career in hospitality.
Ray-Anne Dela Cruz, Baldwin High School
Ray-Anne is a member of her school’s National Honor Society, president of the Baldwin Theatre Guild and treasurer of the Aloha Club, a community service group in which students volunteer for various events to improve the surrounding neighborhood and schools. She helped organize an event through her Spanish class to raise $500 for a scholarship for a fellow student going to college. She plans to major in business management at the University of San Francisco in the fall, and gain the skills necessary that will contribute to a career in the hospitality industry.
Satoko Davidson, McKinley High School
City and County of Honolulu
Satoko is a student athlete and a four-year member of the Lokahi Project, a program aimed at providing support and companionship for senior citizens in the community. She is an officer of McKinley’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, where she has participated in the Hawaiian Airlines Ka Ho‘okele Program, an internship that exposes students to career opportunities in the airline industry. During her years at McKinley, Satoko has challenged herself by enrolling in Advanced Placement courses. Davidson will be attending the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in the fall and plans to pursue a career as an airline pilot.
Congratulations to these future industry leaders! I hope this recognition inspires you in your future endeavors.
HLTA Member Scholarship Recipients
Jenelle Aoki Madysen-rae Reiny
I also want to congratulate two more 2018 scholarship recipients, both of whom are daughters of current HLTA members. This was another scholarship that was introduced in 2017 in observance of the 70th anniversary milestone, as well as to reward members for their continuous support and service to our organization. A scholarship of $2,500 is granted to one Active member and one Allied member with a son or daughter who is a graduating high school senior and is planning to pursue higher education. Last year’s recipients came from ‘Iolani School and Kaua’i High School. This year’s recipients are:
ACTIVE MEMBER SCHOLARSHIP
Madysen-rae Reiny, James Campbell High School
Madysen-rae is the daughter of Vonnell Reiny. Vonnell is the Assistant Front Office Manager at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. Madysen-rae is a student-athlete and president of Campbell High School’s Environmental Club. Her passion for the environment sparked an interest in knowing how her school was affecting the community and the planet. She and several science classmates took the initiative of conducting a campus food audit to learn how much food waste the school generated during lunch periods. Their data was adopted by the school, which is now looking for ways to prevent food waste and for alternative options such as donating uneaten food to piggeries and for compost at community parks. Madysen-rae will be attending Dixie State University in the fall, where she plans to major in biology and pursue a career as a pediatrician.
ALLIED MEMBER SCHOLARSHIP
Jenelle Aoki, Moanalua High School
Jenelle is the daughter of Karon Aoki. Karon is the Job Planner at HONBLUE. Jenelle is a four-year member and state president of the Hawai‘i Health Occupations Students of America, an organization for students interested in careers in health and medicine. Through HOSA she leads a membership of 1,751 students from 29 high schools and five colleges, whose primary missions are leadership development, community service, and competitive events. Her dedication to health issues prompted her to collaborate with HOSA treasurer Brycen Kawamoto to compose an article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Raise Your Hand” column about diabetes awareness. Janelle is active in the Leo Club and National Honor Society, through which she participates in many community service projects. She will be attending Whitworth University in Spokane in the fall and pursuing a career in the healthcare industry.
VISITOR ALOHA SOCIETY OF HAWAII Celebrates 20 Years
One of the greatest things about visiting Hawai‘i is our stellar reputation as a safe place to travel. We remain one of the safest vacation destinations in the World which is not only backed by our beautiful beaches, but our famous island cuisine, our local culture, and our unique Spirit of Aloha. However, there are instances when unfortunate circumstances occur and our visitors are faced with moments of hardship. When these cases of misfortune strike, we want to ensure that our visitors are taken care of and truly experience the real Aloha Spirit. This is where Jessica Lani Rich and the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai‘i steps in. We owe a lot to our members in the visitor industry, our hotels and resorts, and of course our first responders, but I would like to commend the amazing work that Jessica and her team at VASH do to ensure that visitors who encounter traumatic events on Oahu are comforted and taken care of.
The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association has always been a close partner with VASH and I have always touted the important role that they play in our visitor industry. Therefore, it is my distinct pleasure to help them celebrate their 20thAnniversary on June 20th at the Sheraton Waikiki. I would like to encourage all our members who have had the opportunity to work with VASH, or have had VASH assist with their visitors to join me in helping them celebrate this momentous milestone.
Hawaii Youth Impact Program (YIP) to kick off its Second Year
I am a strong believer that change transpires when various sectors of a community rally together for the greater good. And that is precisely what I saw when the Hawaii YIP program kicked off its second year at a press conference and luncheon on May 22 at Eating House 1849 in The International Marketplace. Riki Ellison, Founder and Chairman of the Youth Impact Program was in attendance, along with Chef Roy Yamaguchi, University of Hawaii Head Coach Nick Rolovich, UH Athletics Director David Matlin, Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Kauai State Representative James Tokioka, Senate President Ron Kouchi, and Hawai’i News Now Rick Blangiardi, just to name a few.
After a successful first year, the program is again bringing together local businesses, the U.S. Marines, and the U.S. Army, as well as student athletes and staff from the University of Hawaii to offer a two-week camp that will help mold and ignite our youth to become exceptional members of society. The goal of the program is to increase academic scores and graduation, instill discipline and respect in at-risk boys between the ages of 10-14 to encourage them to make the right decisions in life. This is all facilitated through classroom instruction, led by the Marines and the Army, with football coaching driven by student athletes and staff from the University of Hawaii.
The skills that are taught go far beyond the football field. They are teaching them skills and lessons that will help them develop good study habits and character . Not all of these young lads will be able to make it to the NFL so a camp like this will help them develop good habits that will help them become productive members of our community workforce .
The success of this program wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of all the sponsors who help provide the 100 students with daily meals, transportation to and from UH, football uniforms, equipment, and school supplies at no cost to families. I’d like to extend my mahalo to Riki Ellison and Chef Roy Yamaguchi for bringing this program to Hawaii and knowing they could make a positive impact for our youth. HLTA is thrilled to be sponsoring this program for the second year in a row.
$10,000 Check presented to UH Foundation for Athletics
During the YIP press conference, HLTA, in conjunction with Friends and Family of Agriculture, presented the UH Foundation with a $10,000 check to go towards UH Athletic programs. Athletics Director David Matlin accepted the check at the event. I made the commitment to the University of Hawai’i at a special quarterly meeting of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce that focused on UH Sports. Matlin and seven UH coaches were the special guests that evening on the Garden Island that HLTA in coordination with Friends and Family of Agriculture help plan and organize for the Kauai Chamber of Commerce. It was one of the most successful Chamber events ever staged on the Garden Island that led to several follow-up sports activities there.
Above and Beyond Award
Two Saturday’s ago, in the midst of launching our 40th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Oahu, I was caught by surprise as the Salem Media Hawai‘i Team made their way to the stage to award me their Lex Brodie’s Above & Beyond Award. For those who may not be familiar with this award, it is Salem Media Group’s community service award presented to an individual who has “gone above and beyond the call of duty, have put themselves in harm’s way, made a substantial sacrifice for the good of others, or provided a meritorious contribution to our local community.”
There are many individuals who are constantly giving back to the community, and so I am honored to receive this special accolade. But as I made it clear that day I’m accepting it on behalf of all the special friends and associates I’ve had the pleasure of working and serving with all these years. The Charity Walk is a prime example of hundreds of people coming together annually to help execute an event that benefits thousands of our local organizations and people! Mahalo Hawai‘i for your continuous support, and a special shout out to each and every one of you who are going above and beyond the call of duty in your everyday lives.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to Lex Brodie’s, Salem Media of Hawai‘I, and to the corporate sponsors of the award: K5 the Home Team, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Team Lally Keller Williams, J.J. Dolan’s Hand Crafted Pizza, Arcade Green, and Windward Ford.
Retirement of Donn Takahashi, Prince Resorts
Tuesday, May 22nd, I was honored to attend the Retirement Celebration for Donn Takahashi at the Prince Waikiki. Donn’s lifelong tourism career is an inspirational one, and he has been an exemplary leader at Prince Resorts Hawaii for the last 25 years. Under Donn’s leadership as President of Prince Resorts, during the past 14 years ago, we have witnessed its remarkable growth and development.
Kisan Jo, the new President of Prince Resorts, is a financier by trade and as a Deloitte-trained accountant, he has risen to become one of the youngest hotel operators in Hawaii, which is no small feat. I also happen to know Kisan on a personal level, as he is a graduate of my Pacific Century Fellows program. I am sure we will also see great things from Kisan and Prince Resorts in the near future.
Best wishes Donn, on your retirement after a 46-year long career, from bellman to President of Prince Resorts- a success story indeed. And congratulations, Kisan, as you step up to the plate.
Another record-breaking year for the Visitor Industry Charity Walk!
Celebrating 40 years of giving back to Hawai‘i’s communities.
Nearly 7,000 walkers, participants, and volunteers gathered in Waikiki on Saturday, May 19 for the close of the 40th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk held on Oahu, raising a day-of total of $450,000 - with monies still rolling in.
Throughout the month of May, Charity Walks were held on Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i. The combined funds raised from all of the State’s Walks as of this date totals for now a new record of $2.5 million!
Saturday’s walk on Oahu started with a light breakfast provided by Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa as the crowd was gathered for the morning announcements by emcee Sam Kapu.
Welcome remarks were given by Charity Walk Chair Glenn Vergara, HLTA Chairperson Gregg Nelson, Honorary Chair Rick Blangiardi, Salem Media Partner Dita Holifield, Council Chair Ernest Martin, and yours truly. Return guest appearances were made by Hawai‘i News Now’s Guy Hagi and Stephanie Lum to count us down for the launch of our 40th walk.
Once the walkers got going, they were treated to food, entertainment, and fun throughout a 5-mile course starting from Ala Moana Beach Park, through Kalakaua Avenue and back.
Food selections at checkpoints along the route included staples such as spam musubi, watermelon, my favorite chocolate chip cookies from Double Tree and more. I was also excited to see that many of our checkpoints were trying new ono giveaways this year which included li hing mui pineapple, chicken kelaguen, and pulled pork tacos. Needless to say, this truly is the only walk in Hawai‘i where you actually gain weight!
As our caravan visited the checkpoints along the route, it was refreshing to see many new faces this year walking and volunteering alongside our Charity Walk veterans. This year we saw large public school groups come out to participate and volunteer from Farrington , Waipahu , Kaimuki , Dole Intermediate and Momilani Elementary joining the ranks of other large volunteer contributors , such as Special Olympics. Also joining our hospitality members from the Honolulu and Waikiki districts, was a huge Ko Olina contingency that came out in force from Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, Aulani Disney Resort and the Four Seasons Resort Ko Olina ! We were also pleased to welcome new Charity Walk checkpoint host, Lucky Strike Social Honolulu and welcome back the ‘Alohilani Resort, who had taken a break as they rebranded the former Pacific Beach Hotel.
I would also like to give a special shout-out to some of our past Charity Walk Leaders; they did their time as some of our very recent Charity Walk Chairs and continue to be a part of our tradition of giving. Kudos to past HLTA Chairs Scott Ingwers and Julie Arigo for putting on their Saturday sneakers and walking with us and to Past Chair Kelly Hoen who was on the front lines at the Outrigger Checkpoint at Beach Walk. And it was amazing to see former HLTA Chair Andre Tatibouet share his memories of the very first Charity Walk that he walked in 4 decades ago !
As participants made their way back to Ala Moana Beach Park to finish the walk, they were greeted with the famous Portuguese sausage chilidog plate lunch provided by the Kyo-ya Ohana, music by Pule Kakou, and lucky draw prizes of “staycations” here on Oahu. Emcees led by Salem Media's Sam Kapu and Kimo Villarimo and our very own Bulla and Lynette Eastman of Aqua- Aston welcomed walkers back to the park and entertained the crowd as they enjoyed their lunch and the beautiful weather.
With a banner year and record-breaking numbers officially in the books, I would like to extend my sincerest mahalo to all of our sponsors, partners, volunteers, donors, and participants who have made this year such a resounding success. It is thanks to your hard work and generosity that we are able to continue our Tradition of Giving! After all…”We’re all in this together”.
Mahalo Hawai‘i for your Kokua for making our 40th anniversary of Charity Walk our best one yet!
See Charity Walk in local media!
Hawaii News Now: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/38234168/statewide-walkathon-raises-25m-for-local-charities
HLTA Donates $25,000 for Garden Isle Families Hit by Floods
On Wednesday, May 9th I was joined by members of the HLTA Kaua‘i chapter to present Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc., with a $25,000 donation on behalf of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association and Hawai‘i Hotel Industry Foundation. These funds are being allocated to assist families from the hospitality industry that were affected by the recent devastating floods on Kauai.
I went to visit KEO headquarters in Lihue, and was joined by HLTA Kaua‘i Chair, Jim Braman, as well as Chapter board members Christina Gabriel and Sandi Kato-Klutke. We were met by Mabel Fujiuchi, Chief Executive Officer of KEO, and her team who gratefully accepted the contribution on behalf of the organization.
As many of you already know, HLTA continues to be a leader in the business community in generating funding for worthy causes, and I can’t think of a worthier cause than helping our employees get back on their feet. They range from families with badly-damaged homes to people who’ve lost everything, and we want to help them rebuild their lives. This month we are hosting our annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk in each of the state’s counties, and through these fundraising efforts we are able to help fund deserving causes such as this.
Charity Walk 2018: Celebrating 40 years of Giving
Congratulations to Maui County, Kauai, and Hawaii Island for setting momentous milestones in their Visitor Industry Charity Walks this past weekend! Kauai brought in over $350,000, Hawaii Island raised $305,000, and Maui raised an astonishing $1,357,639. With walks on Molokai and Lanai bringing in $17,000 and $36,000 respectively on May 5th, Maui County raised a total of $1,410,639! It is worth mentioning that these record amounts are also day of counts and we expect that more monies will continue to roll in throughout the next couple weeks! Therefore, our present state-wide grand total is now just over the $2 million mark as we head into the final leg of the 40th Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk here on Oahu on May 19th.
With such wonderful results this weekend I would like to take this moment to thank the Charity Walk Chairs on each island: Christina Gabriel and Chip Bahouth on Kauai, Steve Yannarell and Rob Gunthner on Hawaii Island, and Ryan Nobriga on Maui, your leadership and drive has made reaching these fundraising records a reality. I would also like to thank the Hawaii News Now celebrities that came out to support each of their hometown walks, mahalo to Ashley Nagaoka, Billy V, and Chelsea Davis for being a part of this tradition of giving! Last but not least, I would like to send our gratitude and appreciation to all those that spent tireless hours coordinating the walks and of course to all those that came out and participated, your kokua will help benefit worthy programs and non-profits servicing your communities.
With each of the counties surpassing their fundraising goals for 2018, the pressure is now on Oahu to go over our goal of $500,000! That being said, if you haven’t donated or signed up to walk yet, there’s still time. Please visit www.charitywalkhawaii.org to register or make a donation. For those who need to submit walker forms or monies on Oahu, there will be a pre-registration site open today, May 14th from 1 pm -5 pm and tomorrow, May 15th, 8 am-12 pm at the McCoy Pavilion Dining Hall, located at Ala Moana Beach Park. Charity Walk wrist bands and walker cards will be distributed on-site.
As we head into the final week of the 40th Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk and a record goal of $2.5 million statewide I would like to thank you all for your amazing participation, and encourage your continued support! Statewide Charity Walk Chair Glenn Vergara, HLTA Board Chair Gregg Nelson, Celebrity Chair Rick Blangiardi, and I hope to see you all at Oahu’s walk on Saturday May 19th!
Waikiki Welcomes the ‘Alohilani
Two years ago, the team at the Pacific Beach Hotel shared images of their renovation plans at our HLTA board meeting: and after years of construction, training, and re-branding, we are thrilled to officially welcome the ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach.
I would like to personally extend my congratulations to HLTA members, Kelly Sanders, Cheryl Williams, Rob Robinson, Matthew Grauso, the team at the ‘Alohilani, and Chef Morimoto (Momosan) on their grand opening event this week. It was a pleasure to see many familiar faces from the industry there to support the launch of Highgate’s new, flagship hotel in Waikiki.
As many of you know, we recently held our HLTA Citizen-Scholar Awards luncheon at the hotel’s new Bluefin banquet room, where we got a first-hand experience of their beautifully renovated space. The elegant décor, professional staff, and overall hotel leadership helped us put on our best Citizen-Scholar Awards yet. We commend the team at Highgate on this momentous milestone, and we wish you continued success as the ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach.
Outrigger: Celebrates 70 Years
Now let’s take a moment to recognize another one of our Active members that has much to celebrate this year. Congratulations to Outrigger Hotels & Resorts for their seventy years of service to our industry and community. As a major stakeholder in the hospitality industry, they have exemplified the commitment of showcasing and preserving our island culture and making guests and employees feel like a part of the Outrigger ohana. A special shout out to Kelly Hoen, Area General Manager of Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach and Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, for the feature in Midweek earlier this month. Kelly is an active member of the HLTA Board of Directors, and we wish her and Outrigger Hotel & Resorts many more years of success!
Ladies Leading Lodging
If you happened to see last Wednesday’s MidWeek, you probably recognized another one of our Board Members on the front cover. Julie Arigo, General Manager of the Waikiki Parc Hotel, was one of the four honorees to receive this year’s YWCA O’ahu Leadership recognition. These female leaders have been honored for their diligence in empowering women and their outstanding role in their communities. Congratulations Julie for this special honor. Our industry is fortunate to have both Julie Arigo and Kelly Hoen, both past Chairpersons of HLTA, who are excellent role models for Hawaii’s business women and we thank them for their exceptional example in making our state better.
Last week, we said mahalo and aloha to a partner turned friend, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth J. Phillips as he transitions back to the mainland. We began working with the Lieutenant Colonel at the Visitor Public Safety Conference that we hosted in late February, and have been grateful for his collaborative efforts in our subsequent follow-up meetings. I have discussed a range of public safety concerns with him, and his open communication style has been a welcome presence in our conference room. Lieutenant Colonel Phillips has been a valuable asset to us in our follow up meetings regarding cabaret licenses in Waikiki. Stakeholders, including property owners and liquor establishments, have been actively taking steps to improve safety in surrounding areas. Our recommendations at this point have included increase in lighting, private funding for removal of low walls, the installment of additional cameras, and extra support for HPD. However, the work is far from over, and as the Lieutenant Colonel moves on to his next assignment, we are pleased to welcome his replacement from the Military Police, Master Sergeant Williams. We look forward to the continued involvement from the military as we build on our current momentum and public safety initiatives.
40th Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk!
2018 Hawai‘i State Legislature Adjournment Sine Die
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