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.
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