Countdown to the Hawaii Hotel & Restaurant Show: 5 Days to Go!
The highly anticipated Hawaii Hotel & Restaurant Show is almost here and will be unveiled next week Wednesday and Thursday at the Hawaii Convention Center. We are excited to showcase how diligently HLTA, HRA and Star Events have been working to bring you a first-class show to the islands.
The HHRS has a lineup of 300 vendors exhibiting a wide variety of goods and services vital to the success of our industry, all under one roof. The expo will also include seminars and workshops on topics that are trending within the hospitality industry. Our very own Engineers Advisory Council (EAC) will be holding their meeting at the trade show. This month's EAC breakfast is sponsored by Assa Abloy, who will be discussing RFID guest-entry solutions and security. For more information, please contact Jessica of my staff at email@example.com.
The Women in Lodging & Tourism Council has put together an informative workshop on how to keep their business relevant in an ever-evolving industry. Click here to register for the WIL workshop, Embracing Radical Innovation, sponsored by AMERESCO.
If you have not yet registered for the HHRS, please click HERE. We look forward to seeing you there.
On the evening of May 29th, there will be a Pau Hana Reception in the lobby of the Convention Center, to benefit the Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation and the Hawaii Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Proceeds generated from ticket sales and auctions will go toward scholarships for students pursuing careers in tourism and culinary arts.
Please join us Wednesday night for a chance to bid on incredible auction items that include: a “ Anywhere In The World” that Alaska Airlines flies for two or a deluxe “California Dreamin' travel package comprising of: a stay at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, dinner for two at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill at the LA Staples Center, four tickets to watch LeBron and the Lakers play, and four tickets to see Carrie Underwood perform! To register for the Pau Hana Reception, click HERE.
Ho'oilina Scholarship Recipients
In the spirit of graduation season, I would like to acknowledge some outstanding students: our Ho‘oilina scholarship recipients, our Ho‘okipa scholarship recipients, and our HLTA Member Scholarship recipients – congratulations to you all!
This inaugural class of Ho‘oilina Scholarship Awardees were recognized at a luncheon last Sunday, with myself, HTA President & CEO Chris Tatum, HLTA Chairperson Glenn Vergara, as well as faculty, parents, and members of the selection committee.
These ten recipients are the first to ever receive these full-ride scholarships of $12,000 per year for four years, and were made available to any Hawaii public high school student pursuing a degree in hospitality, tourism, or the culinary arts at either Brigham Young University – Hawaii, Hawai‘i Pacific University, or the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Travel Industry Management (TIM).
Kari-Ann Akasaki – Pearl City High School
Athletic honor student Kari- Ann has excelled in a number of extra-curricular activities, including receiving awards for playing the trombone in Pearl City’s outstanding marching band and as a member of the swimming and track teams. She also prioritizes her church activities and makes time for community events. As a tourism executive, she wants to give her focus to spotlighting “cultural awareness,” ensuring that visitors appreciate and respect Hawai‘i’s multi-cultural society and “customer service,” emphasizing treating our guests in a friendly, efficient, and attentive way thereby making them feel very much at home.
Kailee Chun – Kalani High School
Kailee’s goal is to open a cafe/bakery one day that will reflect the family culture here in Hawai‘i. Her plan is to support other small businesses by embracing the “Buy Local” product mantra. She is picking up valuable culinary experience as an employee at Arancino‘s at the Kahala Hotel & Resort, as well as at Crepes No Ka Oi. She is an active member of DECA, and excels in the business courses she has taken as a Falcon, so it is no surprise that she will be pursuing a dual major in both TIM and Marketing.
Keslyn Higa – ‘Aiea High School
Keslyn is ranked first in her graduating class academically, with a GPA of 4.042. Given her strong interest in marketing, she hopes to parlay this interest in unique ways to help contribute to the industry, as well as promote the aloha spirit in all of her professional endeavors. She is heavily involved in numerous activities at ‘Aiea High School, including the Red Cross and photography clubs, Bands and Wind Ensemble, and contributed over 100 hours of community service.
Janisse Precious Ibana – Waipahu High School
Janisse is an involved member of the Marauders highly-acclaimed Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, Accounting and Economics. She has been actively engaged in student government, the student-operated Credit Union, and DECA. She also has a strong passion for the arts, fashion, music and cooking. While majoring in Hospitality and Tourism at Hawai‘i Pacific University in the fall, Janisse also aspires to take courses in International Business. She has previously interned at Atlantis Submarines and worked at Zippy’s.
Taylor Ledgerwood – Kaiser High School
Besides having a strong interest in tourism, Taylor is passionate about the fields of law and the environment and hopes to combine all of these interest in her professional career. She works as a host and server at the Honolulu Elks Lodge, and has already interned at a prominent Honolulu law firm. She has excelled in numerous Cougar activities, including being active in leadership for the Cougars paddling and cheer teams. She has also been involved in clubs from to cooking to the environment, which included serving as the advisor to the Ka Iwi Coast Youth.
Sarah Lorenzo – Kaiser High School
Sarah is the consummate scholar- athlete as a member of the National Honor Society, compiling numerous academic honors and being named the OIA Player of the Year in Water Polo by virtue of her role with the Cougars championship team. Her community volunteer activities include the blood drive, algae cleanups, eyeglass cleaning and the Visitor Industry Charity Walk. Sarah recognizes the tourism industry as one of the strongest in Hawaii and as a native Hawaiian, aspires to become a hospitality executive who will “share the uniqueness of Hawai‘i and our culture to help create joyful experiences.”
Macy Luke – Moanalua High School
Inspired by her mother’s outstanding cooking, Macy developed an early interest in culinary arts as her potential career. She now wants to blend that with her passionate belief in all that makes growing up in Hawai‘i special - family, love, respect, humility and loyalty - as the basis of her successful career in tourism. Macy is an honor roll student, who has an excellent record of accomplishment in several student activities, including events committees, Orchestra and Band, Korean and Science clubs. She also been a teaching assistant for Kalihi Union Church Preschool, as well as volunteered with couple of elementary school’s fun fairs in her district.
Emily Quach – Moanalua High School
Out of a senior class of 439 students, Emily is at the top of the heap with a GPA of 4.039. She has done exceptionally well in numerous school and community endeavors ranging from athletics to health to music and volunteers at the Waikiki Aquarium. From a young age she has traveled to a number of states, Canada and Japan. As part of her goal as a future tourism leader, this Na Menehune graduate hopes to bring “world peace and harmony as we steer the rough waters of the 21st Century.” She hopes to bring everyone together by “encouraging people to embrace each other’s similarities and differences” which is what Hawai‘i is all about.
Rhema Wong – Kaiser High School
Rhema is wasting no time acquiring valuable experience in the restaurant business, toiling at the popular Gyotaku Restaurant in Aina Haina, and as a past employee of Gokoku Sushi and Subway. This honor roll student is a tireless volunteer on the Cougar campus and community, especially with the L.E.A.P. club, an environmentally friendly organization dedicated to promoting a healthier planet. She feels it is her “kuleana” to incorporate her affinity and passion for preserving and enhancing the environment and beauty of her home, Hawai‘i, into her hospitality career.
Fanglin Xu – Moanalua High School
Fanglin has worked hard to earn an overall GPA of 3.967 while balancing her schedule to accommodate her other school activities, such as the Leo Club, DECA, ROTC and managing the school store. Fluent in 3 languages (English, Chinese and Japanese), Fanglin stands to be very much in demand in the tourism industry and international business community. She envisions herself assisting, educating and inspiring international visitors to Hawai‘i from these key Asian countries, as she has already discovered her enthusiasm for translation and cultural exchange.
Remembering Dean Chuck Gee
At the second annual aio Media Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Awards earlier this year, we awarded Dr. Chuck Gee, Dean Emeritus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Travel Industry Management with our inaugural "Legacy Award." I recommended that we recognize him for his extraordinary efforts in service and contributions to the hospitality industry, and Hawaii.
Though Chuck had been the recipient of many other tourism accolades - from the PATA Gallery of Legends induction, to his Lifetime Achievement Award from the President of Taiwan, and many more, we wanted to acknowledge his outstanding contributions to Hawaii's tourism industry.
I had the distinct pleasure to know and learn from Chuck for many years; in fact, I met him during my tenure as state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director and continued to work with him during my service as Mayor and in my current position at HLTA. Not only was he the longest-serving Dean of the TIM School, but he was an exemplary mentor, educator, and friend. He exuded aloha, and was a great ambassador during his travels abroad. He had such dreams for Hawaii, and we have him to thank for all that we have achieved in terms of recognition as a worldwide tourism destination.
Gee’s Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, June 25 at the Sheraton Waikīkī Kauaʻi Ballroom. Visitation will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. with the service starting at 5:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the university. Messages may sent via the Diamond Head Mortuary and Williams Funeral Services.
Youth Impact Program (YIP) Launches Year Three
I have always believed that great things can transpire when different sectors of the community rally together behind worthwhile causes. One such example of this success is visible through the amazing strides being made by Hawai’i’s Youth Impact Program. The Youth Impact Program, or YIP for short, is an educational leadership program which connects the University of Hawai‘i’s athletic department and their student athletes, the United States Army, and the United States Marines, with 100 local at-risk youth. Trust, relationship-building, and experience-based learning occur over a two-week program which includes 60 total classroom hours and two hours a day of physical and athletic development.
As this national program heads into its third year in Hawaii, Program Founder and former NFL standout, Riki Ellison, in partnership with local celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi, has once again brought the local businesses community together to contribute to its efforts. As one of the founding sponsors, we are proud to once again offer the support of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association to this proven program.
The third iteration of YIP was launched this past Monday at none other than Roy’s Eating House 1849 at the International Marketplace in Waikiki. I was joined by state legislators Senate President Ron Kouchi, Kaua‘i Representative James Tokioka, and Waipahu Representative Ty Cullen to offer words of encouragement, gratitude, and insight to those in attendance. HLTA members First Hawaiian Bank, Roberts Hawaii, The Kahala Hotel and Resort, The Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Roy’s were also acknowledged for their sponsorship.
Their partnerships provide the students with daily meals, transportation to and from UH, football uniforms, equipment, and school supplies at no cost to the families. Kids will come from areas like Kalihi, Waipahu, Ewa Beach, and the Waianae Coast. We look forward to another successful session!
This past Saturday marked the finale of the 41st Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk as over 7,000 participants took to the streets of Waikiki to raise money for local nonprofits on Oahu. However, this May 18th didn’t just mark the close of our annual event, but also signified the beginning of a new tradition, as hundreds of walkers traversed Ala Moana Beach Park’s Magic Island in the first ever Hawai‘i’s 1K Slippah Walk, a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Ohana.
As we concluded the Charity Walk festivities at Magic Island, I was proud to announce that the current combined statewide total (Lanai, Molokai, Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui, and now Oahu) has reached an impressive $2.5 million thus far!
This remarkable feat would not have been possible without the amazing support of our generous members. Over the past 5 months, tourism partners from across the state have been hard at work raising thousands of dollars within each of their companies to help benefit local nonprofits in each of their respective communities.
While monies are still being accepted until May 31st, Oahu for instance is expected to total over $500,000, please submit those last-minute donations as soon as possible, so that we can proceed with the grant allocations process. Last year, the Visitor Industry Charity Walk raised a grand total of $2.6 million statewide and awarded funds to over 350 nonprofits. It’s our hope to not only do so again, but to exceed our previous records. If you have not yet made a charitable contribution, please support our efforts and give here: Lanai - Hawaii Island - Kauai - Maui - Molokai - Oahu.
I would like to extend a heartfelt mahalo for the yeoman work put forth by HLTA’s Chairperson Glenn Vergara, who has undertaken the role of Statewide Charity Walk Chair for the second year in a row now. His passion for the Charity Walk is second to none, and his leadership by example cannot be overstated.
For Maui County (Lanai, Maui, Molokai): my sincere thanks to MHLA’s Lisa Paulson, Christine Christensen, and Maui County Chair, Tets Yamazaki. They have been able to successfully top the million dollar mark yet again, with a total of $1.2 million raised; congratulations on another stellar year.
To the Hawaii Island Team: you exceeded your goal of $335,000 with a Walk Day total of $338,000 - that is fantastic. Congratulations to Charity Walk Chair, Steve Yannarell, Hawaii Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson, and Bambi Lau for setting a new Hawaii Island record.
As for Kauai - this was an exceptional year. Congratulations to Charity Walk co-chairs Chip Bahouth and Jacob Vogelgesang, as well as HLTA Kauai Executive Director Morgan Lopez for exceeding their goal of $435,000 and setting an unprecedented county record of $442,000 raised.
On Oahu with over 7,000 walkers and volunteers over a 5-mile loop, there are a lot of people to thank.
First, our checkpoint sponsors:
Ala Moana Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton Alana/Hawaii Convention Center
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
Duty Free Stores
‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Waikiki Resort Hotel
Royal Hawaiian Center
Outrigger Hospitality Group
Halekulani & Halepuna Waikiki
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Enterprise, Alamo, and National Car Rental
Our Breakfast Host, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, and our lunch and logistics partner, Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts.
To our Media partners, Salem Media Group Hawaii and Hawaii News Now: thank you so much for all that you do, helping us to promote a better, healthier Hawaii- truly outstanding! Special mention to KITV for promoting the Slippah Walk.
Mahalo to our Emcees: Bulla Eastman (Salem Media), and Ashley Nagaoka (Hawaii News Now) and Robert Kekaula ( KITV) for the Slippah Walk.
Mahalo to the Honolulu Police Department, the Honolulu Parks & Recreation Team, Honolulu Department of Transportation Street Use Division, GP Roadways, HHVISA, our route van drivers, E Noa Tours, and to all our course marshal volunteers for keeping our participants safe during our event.
Thank you to Brookefield Properties and the Ala Moana Shopping Center for generously providing our Walkers with parking.
To our new contributor, Menehune Water: thank you for your wonderful donation, and enabling us to be a single-use plastic water bottle-free Walk! Also, thank you to Kokua Hawaii Foundation for providing water filtration dispensers within Magic Island for our participants.
Thank you to Project HiEHiE for providing additional restroom facilities.
And last, but certainly not least, mahalo to everyone who came out to walk with us as we continue our “tradition of giving.” Remember, “We’re all in this together”, and I am already looking forward to Charity Walk 2020!
Legislative Affairs: Honolulu Real Property Tax Update
Last week, the Honolulu Committee on Budget held a special meeting to deliberate real property tax measure Resolution 19-55, which aims at increasing the RPT rate for the hotel and resort classification. In lieu of the hearing, I invited hotel stakeholders to join me in meeting with newly elected Waikiki Councilmember Tommy Waters, where we highlighted our many points of opposition to the proposed real property tax hike. As you know, interim Waikiki Councilmember Mike Formby staunchly opposed any increase in the RPT. Prior to Councilmember Waters' victory in the recent Honolulu special election, we had met with every member of the Honolulu City Council to express our concerns with the administration’s proposal.
During the Committee on Budget’s special hearing, Mayor Caldwell made his way to the second floor of Honolulu Hale to lobby the councilmembers on reversing the current Budget Chair’s proposed increase of $0.50 per $1,000, back to his original proposal of $1.00 per $1,000. He stated that we have an extremely strong visitor industry with no signs of weakening, pointing to the selling prices of current hotel transactions, and subsequently claimed that we can afford the increase. He also reiterated his thoughts on how hotels are all owned by offshore investors who have CEO’s with extravagant salaries, and that the industry is making exorbitant amounts of money from resort fees. Among his many pointed comments at the visitor industry, he also claimed that while he did acknowledge our annual Charity Walk, he slighted tourism stakeholders as a whole by stating the amount raised for the community through this statewide event is a mere fraction of the $18 billion that is Hawai‘i’s visitor industry, not taking into consideration the millions that are contributed annually in time, money, and in-kind contributions by our members.
I would like to recognize and thank the industry leaders who came down to join me that day to offer testimony before the Budget Committee . Mahalo to HLTA Chairman Glenn Vergara, Waikiki Improvement Association’s Rick Egged, and representing the Leeward Coast, Angela Nolan from the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. However, despite our refute of the Mayor’s accusations that we as an industry can afford the increase, and despite the committee’s former stance on wanting to look at ways to further decrease the proposed RPT rate as there is fat in every budget and no cuts had been cited , and with no rational explanation or justification on why they were reversing their prior position to lower Caldwell’s proposed rate of a $1.00 to $.50, the councilmembers voted to go along with the Mayor’s proposal, bringing the discussion back to $13.90 per $1,000 for hotels and resorts. The votes were three “ayes” by Committee Chair Manahan, and Councilmembers Elefante and Menor, “Reservations” by Councilmember Waters, and a single “No” vote by Councilmember Pine.
As we head into the final stretch of the City’s budget process, I ask that our members stay vigilant with me in opposing this egregious and unwarranted increase . The next Full City Council meeting will be held on June 5th at 10 am at Honolulu Hale, stay tuned for updates.
TSA Anticipates Busy Summer Season
Summer is fast approaching, and that tends to be the busiest time of year for our islands. With the addition of new airlines and larger plane capacities, the Honolulu International Airport is anticipating a high volume of travelers bottlenecking through constrained checkpoints during peak departure timeframes.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) held a meeting this week to apprise everyone on what to expect in the coming months as we begin to see an increase in travelers coming to Hawaii. As an industry, we can do our part to help inform our visitors on how to best prepare for their arrival and departure.
As many of you know, it’s always best to arrive to the airport early: TSA is suggesting that travelers plan to arrive 3 hours prior to departure as TSA lines tend to get backed up. Due to hightened security measures, TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items in carry-on bags such as foods, powders, or any other materials that can clutter bags and obstruct imaging on the X-ray machines.
Please be sure to inform guests to keep their carry-on bags organized, to keep TSA lines moving efficiently. If we can all make it our responsibility to inform our visitors on how to best prepare for their visit to and from Hawaii, we can make it an altogether enjoyable experience from the time of their arrival through their departure.
Charity Walk Updates - We Are On A Roll!
As the Oahu Charity Walk gets closer and closer, I know that everyone’s efforts are in full gear. The Oahu Chapter held their “Dine-Around” fundraiser on Tuesday evening. Their sold out-event featured Momosan at the ‘Alohilani Resort, Seoul Jung at the Waikiki Resort Hotel, and wrapped up at SWIM Bar at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa. Mahalo to Oahu Chapter’s Matt Grauso, Glenn Vergara, Bonnie Kiyabu, Earl Cachola & Jodi Uehara for their planning efforts. A Dine-Around takes some serious coordination, and we appreciate your hard work for such a great cause.
Congratulations to Molokai and Lanai islands, who held their Charity Walks on May
4th. Molokai brought in a total of $23,311: their top fundraiser were the Farmers of Molokai High and Middle School, which collected a noteworthy sum of $8,200.
Lanai raised an impressive $62,214, with the Lanai Cat Sanctuary once again claiming the top fundraiser spot with $37,510!
It appears that cat lovers from around the country donated to the nonprofit. They received hundreds of donations, sourced from far and wide: from Cupertino, California, to College Station, Texas, and even Buffalo, New York. This is a perfect example of a non-profit organization who has successfully leveraged the full potential of our crowdfunding platform.
Try it: share your Charity Walk Team Page to your Facebook, leave it in your email signature, or post it to your Instagram. You can also donate to any of the islands via the links below...
My staff was present for the Walks on Hawaii Island, Kauai, and Maui Islands respectively this past Saturday and were totally overwhelmed and impressed! A bunch of heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS are in order:
Congratulations to HLTA Hawaii Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson and Charity Walk Chair Steve Yannarell who beat their goal of $325,000 – their total raised was $338,000! Last year, Hawaii Island raised $315,000 to benefit 61 charities.
Kauai Island set an ambitious goal of $435,000 – and exceeded their goal, as well! Through their efforts, including a “Slippah Drop,” they brought in a total of $442,404. Congratulations to HLTA Kauai Chapter Executive Director Morgan Lopez, and to Chip Bahouth, Kauai Charity Walk Co-Chair. Happy Birthday and congratulations to Jacob Vogelgesang, our other Charity Walk Co-Chair, who I hope had a great birthday raising funds to support Kauai nonprofits!
Maui Island of course, continued its trend of raising over $1 million dollars, for their third year in a row: the Maui Island total was $1,123,209 ! Congratulations to Maui County Charity Walk Chair Tets Yamazaki, and MHLA Executive Director Lisa Paulson.
The after-Walk totals thus far are:
Hawaii Island: $338,000
Congratulations to all our neighbor island chapters and fundraisers – you have done a phenomenal job.
Now all that’s left is for Oahu to beat its record: be sure to register or donate now. If you have not done so yet, register to participate in both our first-ever Hawaii’s 1K Slippah Walk, and Charity Walk – see you Saturday at Magic Island!
Click here to watch Robert Kekaula talk about Hawaii's 1K Slippah Walk: 7am at Magic Island. Bring your slippahs and join us as we break the Guinness World Record for most walkers in slippahs - register here.
Advocacy Update: Transient Vacation Rentals
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