Storytelling is one of many cultural activities offered free seven days a week at the hotel.
by Alison Gardner, Editor, Travel with a Challenge
Images Courtesy of Ka`anapali Beach Hotel
I am rarely enamored with large beach resorts, but, after two equally-rewarding visits several years apart, Maui’s Kā`anapali Beach Hotel remains an exception on an island where armies of multi-national hotels fringe the island’s finest beaches. Yes, the Kā`anapali has 432 rooms and suites and every amenity that a conventional resort is expected to have, but it also has a distinctive cultural signature that confirms each day you stay there that this is “Maui’s most Hawaiian hotel”.
Employee choirs are always ready to jump in with a song for any occasion.
I have spoken with far too many guests who wouldn’t go anywhere else for their Hawaiian holiday to question such a statement. It is affirmation of the “ohana”, the sense of family that this hotel exudes from every pore. Though the owner lives in China, he prudently has a hands-off attitude, leaving management to a fabulous team of employees who are largely Hawaiian at every level.
Though there is an efficient, effective attitude surrounding each task at the resort, there is that added ingredient of confident, caring acceptance between staff and between staff and guests. It is impossible to measure but clearly a treasure to be valued. Surely we may learn from any hotel or resort that boasts a five-paragraph mission statement composed by its employees in 1986, a mission statement that “has not been edited, revised or changed in any way by management” over more than 20 years. Even more impressive, most of those employees or their offspring are still part of the family!
Each year the hotel’s Christmas card sent to every former guest features “keikis” (young children) of staff members, and the employee choir has produced a beautifully-recorded and packaged CD of favorite Hawaiian music for guests to take home. Kā`anapali Beach Hotel’s ohana is a business model that pays enormous dividends, spilling over into guest experiences every day of the year.
Featuring lots of variation, rooms and suites are furnished with four-star style.
A small part of the spacious, well-established hotel grounds.
Complimentary Hawaiian cultural activities scheduled seven days a week appeal to a variety of ages and interests. All delivered by expert native Hawaiian staff, you may sign up for flower lei making, hula or ukulele lessons, Hawaiian storytelling, cultural garden walks through the well-established landscaped grounds, weaving and ti leaf hula skirt making. Of course, the famous beach is one of the finest in the islands, but it is the spacious, well-established grounds of this early arrival to the area and the hospitality of the property that distinguishes it.
Native Hawaiian dishes are distinctively tasty and colorfully presented in the hotel’s indoor/outdoor Tiki Terrace Restaurant.
Guests enjoy a complimentary ohana welcome breakfast during their stay.
In the Hawaiian culture, family and close friends are life’s top priority. I have never felt more genuinely a part of this beautiful state’s ohana than while staying all-too-few days at the Kā`anapali Beach Hotel. My proof of that fact was returning to Maui in October 2008 remembering to wear the rich brown kukui nut necklace presented to me, as to all guests, with a farewell song from assembled staff four years earlier. During my stay, the necklace was re-strung with a lighter-colored kukui nut in the center, recording my second visit. I’ve still got a long way to go to catch up with other guests sporting a dozen nuts or more of different shades. Many are now bringing their grandchildren on vacation ensuring that their own family tradition continues! www.kbhmaui.com.
A farewell presentation of a kukui nut lei to each guest offers a lasting reminder to return again.
Alison Gardner is a travel journalist, magazine editor, guidebook author, and consultant. She specializes in researching vacations throughout the world, suitable for people over 50 and for women of all ages. She is also the publisher and editor of Travel with a Challenge Web magazine, www.travelwithachallenge.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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