Hawaii Hospitality - March/April 2014 - (Page 16)

Call of the Big Island Nature May Attract Visitors, but Nurture Keeps Them Coming Back O BY STACY POPE HTA/TOR JOHNSON experience this aina," he tells us. "Everything will fall into n its surface-literally-Hawaii's largest island is place: the people, the sharing of aloha, and of course its about diversity. We've got snow dusted, hulking beauty. I feel the spirit of our kupuna still roaming this volcanoes with steaming rifts of crimson lava. island. Knowing that, it becomes a very spiritual place Black sand, even green sand beaches. Lush, misty coastlines for many of our kamaaina. However," he adds, "there dripping with waterfalls. One-malasada plantation towns, two-finger-poi fishing towns, three-horse paniolo towns. These classic Big Island sights draw visitors here. But what keeps them returning year after year? The Hawaii Tourism Authority's 2013 Annual Visitor Research Report indicates that 1.45 million visitors traveled by air to the Big Island last year and stayed for an average of nearly 7.4 days. A remarkable two-thirds of them were repeat visitors Four Seasons Resort Hualalai's and almost half spent Uncle Earl Kamakaonaona their entire vacations here Regidor instead of island hopping. Yes, there's plenty to do and see on the Big Island, but there's more to the story. "Dig deeper, and you'll see that the spirit and kindness of the people who live here are what really make our island unique," says Big Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ross Birch. Robert Whitfield, regional vice president and general manager of Hawaii Island Retreat Owner Jeanne Sunderland with the Four Seasons Resort Guest Coordinator & Cultural Hualalai at Historic Specialist Namakana Davis-Lim Kaupulehu, would agree. Halemaumau crater, said to be the home of Pele "There's a different feel to this place," he says. "The land is special, the scenery is incredible ... but most of all, the are a good percentage of our malihini who feel that same people here are absolutely the best, and they live with aloha powerful energy." each and every day." Longtime Big Island residents Jeanne Sunderland and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai's Hawaiian Cultural Center Robert Watkins are the owners of Hawaii Island Retreat, an Manager, Uncle Earl Kamakaonaona Regidor, knows that eco-retreat on the North Kohala Coast. Sunderland, who has firsthand. He grew up in Paauilo, on the rural Hamakua Coast, studied traditional Hawaiian healing arts and is respected in where everyone's a neighbor and life still comes one day at a time. the community for her skills, echoes Regidor's sentiment. "The "Our island is so diverse that the mea kipa, or life and spirit of the land are still very fresh and verdant here on malihini, should make their way around to really feel and Hawaii Island," she says. "Ancient Hawaiian stories and legends 16 Hawaii Hospitality ■ March/April 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hawaii Hospitality - March/April 2014

Walk the Talk
Na Poe Paahana Awards
Travel Pono
News Briefs
HRA Employee Excellence Awards
New Restaurants
Big Island Hospitality
Talk Story with GEORGE SZIGETI
Association News
Food & Beverage SuperStars, Part two
Featured Department: Food & Beverage

Hawaii Hospitality - March/April 2014