Hawaii Hospitality - May/June 2013 - (Page 9)

The Big Island’s Brand of By LeSLie LaNG Hookipa (from top) Chris Luedi of the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Hawaii; Paul Streiter, owner of Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill in Kailua-Kona at a local relay race; Petra Weisenbauer of the Hawaii Island Bed & Breakfast Association and owner of Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast in Pahoa. E ach Hawaiian island is slightly different in its style of hospitality, says Paul Horner, managing director of marketing at the Big Island visitors Bureau. on the island of Hawaii, he says, it’s all about hookipa. “The straight English translation of hookipa is hospitality,” he says, “but what it means to people here on the Big Island is that, ‘Whatever I have is yours.’ ” Horner’s ancestry on the Big Island goes back at least 15 generations, and so he knows that “this is a value people are taught growing up on this island. If they had friends or family coming over, their parents would tell them, ‘You know your favorite chair? That’s not your favorite chair tonight.’ “You don’t even blink an eye, but are willing to share whatever you have. It may be stories, it may be food … I think that’s the quality of service we deliver here on this island. sharing the deeper meaning of hookipa. Welcoming someone into your home, and your home becomes their home.” paul streiter owns Jackie Rey’s ohana Grill in Kailua-Kona. He describes his restaurant as “family upscale.” Though he doesn’t actually mention the word hookipa, he describes that Hawaiian value in his approach to customer service. He says he doesn’t look for 5-star wait help, but instead concentrates on hiring people who have “hospitality in their blood.” And he, too, talks about how the staff at his restaurant greets patrons the same as when welcoming guests into their homes. “If you invited people to your home for 5 o’clock, and they arrive 10 minutes early, you’re not going to make them wait outside,” streiter says. “You’re going to invite them in, and say, ‘You’re a little early and I’m not quite ready, but have a beer!’ “I am able here to find employees with the aloha of ‘having people in their own home,’ and so I can practice my brand of customer service. They have to be able to read what a guest is feeling and looking for, whether they’re from Kansas, Maui or down the block.” petra Weisenbauer, board member and former chair/CEo of the Hawaii Island Bed & Breakfast Association and owner of Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast in pahoa, says that Big Island visitors “are not just here for white sandy beaches and that fluffy Hawaiian image. They’re really interested in the culture, and maybe also a little more rugged nature. I find that ties in very well with Hawaiian cultural experiences.” Most Big Island B&Bs, she says, offer personal introductions to the area, and help with itinerary planning, so guests can learn about the local culture based on their interests. “I refer guests to a native Hawaiian guide; Warren Costa, for instance,” she says. “He offers both customized tours and standard packages. He’s a local Hawaiian and has worked in the national park for a number of years as a ranger and has an anthropology background. I also refer to Kalapana Cultural tours, and to lava ocean Adventures tours, the boat trip out to the lava. “Then you have the Palace Theater [cultural Hawaiian program] with leilehua Yuen, and other practitioners or Native Hawaiian elders who promote and perpetuate the culture. I find it’s unique here on this island; that there are so many people offering so many different puzzle pieces to the whole picture.” Another way Big Island B&Bs customize their presentations to guests, she says, is by having personal relationships with the businesses they refer to. “For instance, when I send people to Kaleo’s (restaurant), they bring my business card,” she says. “Kaleo’s knows they come from me, and they get special treatment and are treated very nicely.” There’s that concept of hookipa again. Chris luedi is general manager of the Fairmont orchid, and regional vice president for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Hawaii. He says that while the Fairmont’s Big Island guests are definitely looking for a luxurious stay, they, too, are seeking a more understated and local experience. “We have hundreds of examples where a guest talks about great mangos or tomatoes, and the next day our employee brings them one from their garden at home. Or a guest mentions their child wants to learn hula, and the employee says, ‘If you www.hawaiihospitalityonline.com 9 http://www.hawaiihospitalityonline.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hawaii Hospitality - May/June 2013

Hawaii's Female Chefs
War on Waste
Big Island Hookipa
Hawaii’s Little Touches
HRA Excellence Awards
Talk Story with George Szegeti
New Restaurants: Chef Chai and Liko Lehua Cafe
News Briefs
Association News

Hawaii Hospitality - May/June 2013