Pacific Edge Magazine - Vol. 12 Issue 04

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When Matters of the Heart Matter

Cardiovascular Services At Adventist Health Castle what matters to you, matters to us. With our comprehensive cardiovascular services and the skill of our medical and clinical staff we can help you get back to the people and things you love.

For more information please call 263-5400, or visit our website at

Hyatt® and Grand Hyatt® names, designs and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2017 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

GOOD impresses. GrAND iNspires. set on the soothing white sands of Kauai’s sunny south shore, Grand Hyatt Kauai resort & spa beckons you to unwind in relaxed elegance. A water wonderland of pools begs you to celebrate the sun. Hit the links at poipu Bay for fun and challenging play. And for a Hawaiian spa experience like no other, indulge as Anara spa’s natural outdoor setting renews body, mind, and soul. plan your getaway today, call 808.742.1234 or visit Kamaaina receive special pricing on rooms, golf and spa. grand hyatt kaua‘i resort & spa | 1571 poipu road | koloa, hi 96756 | ta-207-370-2400-01


THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD Many of us remember stories of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood. The nonprofit Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative is bringing these iconic places to life through

Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss and the Peanuts gang are just a few of the familiar names helping restore Hawai‘i’s forests through a new effort by the nonprofit Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative (HLRI). is offering one-of-a-kind pieces of Americana, art and children’s literature as a gift with the online sponsorship of Legacy Trees. Imagine reading the rare original 1930 leather-bound publisher’s series of Winnie the Pooh (pictured at left) with your child or grandchild on your knee. Or a pristine 1957 first-edition copy of The Cat in the Hat signed by Dr. Seuss himself, paired with original Cat in the Hat artwork framed in koa (pictured at right). These gifts are part of the selection offered by for the sponsorship of endemic King Koa and Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood Legacy Trees for permanent reforestation in the 1,200-acre Legacy Forest on Hawai‘i Island. In addition, the website offers local works of art, including hand-carved milo calabashes, koa art pieces and limited-edition ukuleles, all through a tax-deductible sponsorship starting at $90 per tree. Smaller gifts, like logo wear and leather accessories, are also available. All profits go toward the planting and maintenance of the Hawaiian Legacy Forest. “This online store exists for the sole purpose of planting trees,” says Jeff Dunster, executive





director of HLRI. “Legacy Forest Gifts provides the mechanism to restore Hawai‘i’s natural environment while supporting literature, the arts and our renowned Hawai‘i artisans. We saw this as a new way for caring people to leave a legacy for their children, grandchildren or other special loved ones that will transcend one generation and reach into the next.” A sponsor of 500 Legacy Trees or more will also receive the naming rights to their own Family Legacy Forest, complete with a personalized sign marker. In addition to being a special site that memorializes the sponsor’s contribution to the environment, the trees provide critical habitat for Hawaiian hawks (‘io), Hawaiian geese (nene), and Hawaiian owls (pueo), all of which are endangered species. Over the past eight years, HLRI has planted more than 400,000 endemic and native trees for permanent reforestation on Hawai‘i Island. HLRI uses state-of-the-art radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to record the growth, health, location and sponsorship details of each tree. Legacy Trees can be tracked online through HLRI’s new TreeTrackerTM program ( HLRI and sustainable forestry company HLH are working to reforest 1.3 million trees across the state—one for each person in Hawai‘i. For more on Legacy Gifts, visit To sponsor a Legacy Tree, visit



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“Partnering with HDT has had a positive impact to our tenants bottom line. This partnership has allowed us to professionally deliver, state-of-the-art Internet services to our tenants as part of the standard services we provide. HDT’s knowledge, quality and experience has allowed for a seamless delivery of this awesome service to our tenants.”


- Steven Sullivan, Vice President Operations, Shidler Pacific Advisors, LLC “HDT has been providing my office with fantastic Internet and phone service without interruption. They provide the same great Internet on our pool deck, in our new fitness center and now free to guest TV services to our tenants. Their technicians are very responsive and respectful and HDT’s management has gone out of their way to make sure we are happy with the services they provide.” - Nate Steele, General Manager, Hawaiian Monarch



Aging the Easy Way BY KELIKA ISHOL Even when we feel pain in our joints, lose our train of thought, forget where we left our keys or become caregivers for aging loved ones, we don’t always think about what we’ll do as we grow old. But it’s inevitable—what we see our aging loved ones go through is a process we will all eventually experience. When I think back to taking care of my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease, I reflect on one of the most challenging times in my life. My grandmother—a vibrant and beautiful woman who went beyond the call of duty to care for everyone—now needed care. Incontinence issues, assistance with bathing, meal prep, elopement situations and medication management were an ongoing part of my life. I was also raising four young daughters. They called me “the sandwiched generation.” When my loving grandmother passed away from a hemorrhagic stroke, she was living in an Alzheimer’s unit on the Leeward side of O’ahu. Placing her in an Alzheimer’s unit was both the easiest and hardest thing for me to do. I felt guilty putting her there, but the relief I felt surpassed the guilt. It was truly the best decision I could have made for me, my family and, most importantly, for her. If I knew then what I know now about retirement communities, I definitely would have educated my grandparents early enough so that they could have enjoyed their retirement years. And no one in our family would have had to experience the guilt, pain and mixed emotions of placing a loved one in a care home or retirement community. Retirement communities in Hawai‘i start at about $3,100 per month, which includes utilities, maintenance, housekeeping, landscaping, meals, transportation services, social events and access to fitness facilities. They offer peace of mind by tending to your loved one’s basic needs in addition to providing socialization opportunities, 24-hour oversight, emergency call systems and so much more. It’s a community where residents take the time to care for each other and share in the aging process. So the next time you see a senior, think about your life. Do you want your children caring for you as I cared for my grandmother, or do you want to enjoy your retirement years cared for by professionals and in the company of others who share your interests, allowing your family and friends to visit and see you enjoying your new life?



Kelika Ishol is the director of sales, marketing and resource development at Good Samaritan Society Pohai Nani and has over 18 years of experience in retirement communities and nonprofit development.


o how do you choose the S right senior living community? Fun is important. So is comfort. But what about those deeper questions? Questions like whether our lives will have as much meaning and purpose? We’re the Good Samaritan Society – Pohai Nani, part of the nation’s largest not-for-profit provider of senior care and services. And we’d like to help you answer those deeper questions that belong at the very center of your search. To learn more about our community in Kane’ohe, call (808) 247-3448.

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society provides housing and services to qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, national origin or other protected statuses according to applicable federal, state or local laws. All faiths or beliefs are welcome. Copyright © 2014 The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. All rights reserved.

Creating Healthy Communities St. Francis Healthcare System wants to show that age is not a barrier to enjoying a vibrant, full life. The Liliha campus is now being completely transformed into the St. Francis Kūpuna Village, Hawaii’s first one-top health and wellness center dedicated to serving seniors, caregivers and other family members. Busy families will relax and unwind in a casual, comfortable, haven as they enjoy breathtaking sunsets and spectacular Honolulu skyline and ocean views from our new courtyard. The courtyard will be the hub for an exciting array of amenities: a multi-purpose senior center, where seniors can enjoy educational, social and recreational activities together; a wellness center, bistro, beauty salon, and much more.

The St. Francis Kūpuna Village is designed to seamlessly blend health and wellness activities, all at one convenient site. The campus already features a skilled nursing facility and will eventually include an adult day care program, an assisted living facility with a wing dedicated to serving the Sisters of St. Francis, and an independent living community.

Be one of the first to learn about St. Francis Healthcare System’s newest programs! Join our e-mail list by sending your name and email address to:

Live Every Moment (808) 547-6500

Caring for the Whole Family Jerry Correa, Chief Executive Officer St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii In Hawaii, do people want to remain at home as they age? Yes, “living in place” is not only the preference among seniors in Hawaii, but also across the nation. In the past, this was referred to as “aging in place.” Our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic influences create strong expectations for older adult children to care for their parents as they age. However, we know that sense of duty and honor can create a tremendous burden on working family members.

What is St. Francis Healthcare System doing to address this issue? The Sisters of St. Francis always believed in finding a way to meet the needs of the community. We are creating the St. Francis Kūpuna Village to offer a spectrum of services for seniors and caregivers all in one convenient location.

We envision a campus that offers different levels of care: adult day care, independent living, assisted living, intermediate and skilled nursing care with rehabilitation services, and other services. We are now in the process of building and filling in the gaps in our overall strategic vision. This will occur over the next five to seven years. Some of this will be the result of collaboration and alliances with other healthcare providers, just as we have partnered with Ohana Pacific Management to offer skilled nursing care on our campus.

While the vision for the campus unfolds, what is St. Francis doing in the meantime to meet the immediate needs of the community? St. Francis Healthcare System has a number of existing service lines, including islandwide bathing and personal care services,

adult day care in Manoa and Ewa, islandwide home and inpatient hospice care, a social worker-based palliative care program, an affordable independent living community in Ewa, and a preschool, also in Ewa.

What is your newest service for the community? This past year, we introduced caregiver education and training sessions for caregivers. The response to these hands-on, interactive sessions has been positive and we plan to continue to offering them throughout 2017. For a list of upcoming sessions, visit the St. Francis Healthcare System website at

Live Every Moment (808) 547-6500





18 Q&A Sanj Sappal, Area Vice President of Securitas 24 ACHIEVE Pacific Edge magazine’s seventh annual Business Achievement Awards 28 ALOHA Leaders in hospitality shed insight on a changing industry 42 DESIGN Meet the design firms reshaping the landscape of hospitality


80 LEI Sukit Kanaprach, President of The Orchid Lei Company 82 EAT Keli‘i Gouveia, General Manager at Hula Grill 84 STAY Sandy Narvaez, Director of Sales & Marketing at Hilton Waikiki Beach 86 DINE Keith Mallini, General Manager at Baku


88 MEDIA Patrick Ahler, Partner at Lights On Digital 90 LEAD Corey Campbell, Founder & CEO of Akamai Training & Consulting

Islands 94 NINTH ISLAND Island Sushi & Grill + Zenshin Asian Restaurant 100 CONNECTIONS Network, educate, celebrate 104 VISIT Coral Crater Adventure Park brings action to West O‘ahu




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Lauren McNally


Jamie Giambrone

Keith Usher


Naomi Hazelton

Kim Baxter Lindsey Kesel Aaron Bernard Dave Livingston Dave Miyamoto Darryl Watanabe


Crystal Rogers Sally Shaner Abbey Dahlin


Pacific Edge magazine is a quarterly publication available through subscription, direct mail and at bookstores throughout Hawai‘i. The views expressed within Pacific Edge magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of management and ownership. Pacific Edge magazine may not be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

ENT-88-16 Pacific Edge Mag Ad rev copy.qxp_Layout 1 10/2/17 12:26 AM Page 1

OPEN Sean Uezu President Popeyes Hawaii

Lori Uezu Vice President Popeyes Hawaii

Kal Uezu Owner Popeyes Hawaii

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Thirty-eight years. Six restaurants. One bank. “Central Pacific Bank has been a great partner since our father Kal opened his first restaurant,” says Sean Uezu, President of Popeyes Hawaii. “Our banker Scott knows our business and always goes the extra mile to ensure Lori and I have the best strategy we need to further our business growth.” Building a strong relationship with the right financial institution is the foundation of any successful business. If you’re looking for a partner and not just a bank, we’re ready to work for you.

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Publisher’s Note Aloha! We are extremely excited to be featuring a number of truly amazing leaders in hospitality and design this issue. All of them bring creativity, innovation and expertise to our state’s most important industry, which has seen its sixth consecutive year of record growth. Trending this year: - Luxury is about comfort, tech and customization, not bling - Millennials are driving change in the industry - Travelers want authentic experiences and to live like locals - Demand for ecotourism is at an all-time high We hope you gain new insight into this exciting and dynamic industry as we pick the brains of the hospitality and design professionals featured in the coming pages.

Aloha, Naomi Hazelton, Founder & Publisher

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Sanj Sappal

Area VP – Hawaii/Guam

Lee Donohue

Gene Stoudt

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Ray Romero Consultant

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Serving Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai and Guam

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High Security Sanj Sappal, area vice president of Securitas, on merging vigilance and aloha by LAUREN MCNALLY photos DAVE MIYAMOTO


pproachable, quick to laugh and with a background in women’s swimwear and parking management, S anj Sappal isn’t someone you’d expect to find in the security business. But upon meeting him, it’s easy to see how his warm personality, infectious enthusiasm and high-touch approach to management has inspired record levels of employee retention in an industry notorious for its high turnover rate. As it turns out, the skillset that brought Sappal success selling bikinis and managing parking lots has translated remarkably well to this latest chapter in his noteworthy, if eclectic, career. Still, Sappal himself would never have guessed he’d end up at Securitas, a global leader in electronic security, corporate risk management, and mobile, remote and on-site guarding. As area vice president for Securitas’ Hawai‘i and Guam region, Sappal is responsible for overseeing one of the corporation’s largest North American outposts and rolling out a slew of proprietary security solutions pioneered by what is collectively one of the largest providers of protective services in the world. Here, he discusses the challenges and intricacies of managing a network of more than 2,000 employees as the largest security company and eighth largest employer in the state.



WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO YOUR CAREER AT SECURITAS? I owned and operated retail stores for a good 12 years. My mom first got me into it—she’s run Cosmopolitan Sun Shop, her store at Koko Marina Center, for 40 years—so after graduating from Chapman University in 1987, I came back to Hawai‘i and borrowed the funds to open two women’s swimwear shops in Kailua. During that time, I was simultaneously involved in parking management. At one point I reported to Sidney Kim, a hotel security chief and retired inspector for the Honolulu Police Department. He introduced me to a lot of other


retired police officers working in hotel security, who I eventually started golfing with. The golfing led to more relationships and friendships, and I later met Securitas’ former area vice president Ray Romero. When Ray decided to retire, the president at the time convinced me to step in. I didn’t know anything about security. I was selected based on my relationships in the industry.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE? I’m definitely not management by fear. If that’s your approach, your organization is just going to have a revolving door. My style is management by motivation— and maybe a little fear!

HOW LONG HAS SECURITAS BEEN A CONTRACTOR FOR THE STATE? We’re on our third term of providing security services for the state’s 11 airports. Each term is about five years, so we started in 2004 and currently employ about 1,100 airport security employees. It’s a $43 million-peryear contract, and it accounts for about half of our business.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A POSITIVE BRAND REPUTATION WHEN HANDLING COMPLAINTS OR OTHER INCIDENTS THAT COULD RESULT IN NEGATIVE PUBLICITY? I think the most important thing is to be honest, humble and as transparent as possible. We share what we can with the media, but we also have to respect the individual’s rights in terms of labor laws and HR rules and regulations.


WHAT QUALITIES HAVE HELPED GET YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? Being caring and compassionate with people has allowed me to build trust and friendships with people I wouldn’t otherwise have relationships with. Internally it’s allowed me to gain the trust and loyalty of my staff. Managing a company that serves as the first responder in a lot of challenging and sometimes life-threatening situations, nothing ever surprises me. I’ve built a thick skin and learned not to react when provoked. That’s a useful skill when conflicts arise. It’s important to respect others’ opinions and deal with things in a professional manner.

HOW HAVE CURRENT EVENTS AFFECTED THE WORK THAT YOU DO? Current events and even social media have changed the security industry dramatically. We’ve all become very vigilant of our surroundings. As a result, our company is using technology to create force multipliers. Cameras can cover more area than one guard with two eyes. Security is definitely a fast-paced industry, and it will only continue to grow, fortunately and unfortunately.

WHAT ABOUT CYBERATTACKS? Securitas purchased Pinkerton in 1999 and Burns Security in 2000, two of the oldest and largest guarding companies in the United States. We do cyber security through our Pinkerton acquisition. There’s a lot of fraud taking place, so we’ve been involved in corporate risk management as an industry leader this whole time.


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WHAT HAS SECURITAS BEEN INVOLVED IN LATELY ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL? Securitas recently acquired Diebold’s North American electronic security business—it’s now Securitas Electronic Security—so we’ve created a lot of proprietary technologies involving cameras triggered by motion or sound. A lot of home security systems are equipped with this feature. So if there’s an intrusion in your backyard while you’re away, your security system captures a ten-second clip and sends it to you wherever you are. In California, we teamed up with a Silicon Valley technology company to deploy about 25 robots capable of license-plate recognition, and they’re moving into facial recognition next. We’re also teaming up with Microsoft and another tech company to explore applications for augmented reality. These are all developments within the past year or so, so we’re just out of the gate. We’re currently working on getting up to speed on a new remote monitoring center, which we have here locally. We’re learning a new industry, really. Technology is really changing the way we’re driving our business. I would say 90 percent of our 300-plus contracts utilize SecuritasVision, a proprietary smart phone and tablet-based platform that streamlines officer walk-arounds and incident reports. Other companies have their own technology, but we think we’re driving most of it.



IN WHAT CAPACITY IS SECURITAS INVOLVED IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY? We have guards all over Waikiki, especially now with our mobile patrol service. We’re very vigilant and are in close contact with the police department, which is good for the tourism industry when you look at it on a macro level. We save lives, mitigate situations, we take people off the plane. Last year we responded to over 10,000 incidents at the airports alone. We’re here to protect the state of Hawai‘i and that’s what motivates me each day. We’re the first and last encounter for visitors coming to Hawai‘i, so we put our guards through a tremendous amount of aloha-spirit training. We really try to exemplify the aloha spirit while also keeping people safe. That’s an incredibly difficult thing, but we try to be ambassadors of aloha and instill that throughout our whole management team.

HOW HAS THE STATE’S LOW UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AFFECTED BUSINESS? That’s a big challenge we’re facing right now. Everyone is looking for workers. We hired a recruitment specialist earlier this year to attract and retain new hires because, as of this interview, we’re 160 guards short. We also launched a program where our HR department calls on individual guards to check in about the onboarding process, how their manager is treating them, whether or not they have the uniforms they need. We never did that when the unemployment rate was high. We should have, and we’re going to continue to do so. We currently offer new employees a $1,000 sign-up bonus or $1,500 if they carry a state-issued guard card. This industry is all metrics driven, so we’re always comparing ourselves to other regions when it comes to overtime, workers’ comp, gross margins, net profit and more. One of the most interesting comparisons we’ve found is that we have one of the highest officerretention levels among Securitas locations throughout the United States. Last week we were number one in the nation. We’re also in the top 10 for lowest officer turnover. I think that can be attributed to the fact that we try to stay very close to our staff, take care of their needs and treat them like ‘ohana.

WHY IS COMMUNITY OUTREACH SUCH A SIGNIFICANT PART OF YOUR BUSINESS? What we do here is pretty unique, but that’s just the nature of Hawai‘i. There’s only 660,000 employable workers in the entire state. Compare that to San Diego County’s 1.5 million or the 22 million in downtown Los Angeles. If you don’t stand out the right way, you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb the wrong way. I think it’s very important to connect with our clients. That’s something I’ve driven here. You’re building lifelines—that’s an analogy I use to ensure we have good retention of contracts as well as employees. We have to take care of everybody and give back to the community here. The islands are too small not to.



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Expert Edge Experts answers from leading professionals WHY IS VEGAS A HOT CITY RIGHT NOW? Many investors and businesses implement a simple strategy known as “following the money.” The theory is that large corporations conduct extensive research before committing to a geographic area, so those areas are a safe bet for other companies looking to relocate or expand. This strategy operates on the notion that money attracts more money. Las Vegas is certainly proving the theory. Some new developments include the arrival of the city’s first professional hockey team, the forthcoming Raiders NFL team and $1.9 billion football stadium, and the recent legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Other additions include the $600 million acquisition of the unfinished Fontainebleu resort and construction of the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas. Some major businesses have also staked a claim in the area with new infrastructure, including Apple’s $1 billion data center expansion, Switch’s $1 billion data center and Amazon’s $34 million fulfillment center, and many other technology companies are soon to follow.

Randy Hatada Broker/Owner Xpand Realty Las Vegas 702.289.1669


ARE THERE HEALTH CONDITIONS THAT AFFECT ORAL HEALTH, AND ARE MY EMPLOYEES ELIGIBLE FOR ADDITIONAL BENEFITS IF THEY ARE AT RISK FOR THESE CONDITIONS? Yes, there is sufficient scientific evidence that shows certain medical conditions affect the biology of our mouths. As a result, Hawaii Dental Service (HDS) offers employers enhanced plan designs that provide additional benefits for employees who are at risk from medical conditions such as diabetes and pregnancy. Based on their condition, members are eligible for additional teeth cleanings or fluoride treatments. Employees can qualify for these additional benefits by having their dentist validate their at-risk condition when submitting their claim. By logging into HDS Online at, employer plan administrators can verify if these additional evidence-based benefits are part of their group plan. Understanding the connection between oral health and overall health is fundamental to ensuring a lifetime of healthy smiles for your employees.

Elaine Fujiwara Director, Sales and Account Management Hawaii Dental Service 808.521.1431


WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR TREATING BACK AND SPINE CONDITIONS AT CASTLE? William Beringer, DO, has joined Adventist Health Castle with the vision to offer Windward residents the most comprehensive, minimally invasive spine surgery program in the state. By using a less-than-oneinch incision and muscle-sparing techniques, minimally invasive spine surgery can help you find relief from debilitating neck and back pain. This technique reduces unnecessary injury to surrounding bone, ligaments, skin and nervous tissue so patients can rehabilitate faster and with less pain. Back and neck conditions that can be treated include degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, spinal stenosis, spondylosis and spinal compression fractures. Dr. Beringer is a skilled neurosurgeon who will be able to provide neurosurgical treatment options for our Windward community. This vital neurosurgery service line gives you access to both spine and brain surgery on the Windward side, keeping you close to home! For more information about Castle’s spine program, please call 263-5220.

William Beringer, DO Neurosurgeon Adventist Health Castle 808.261.4476


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Photo: Aaron Bernard



Pacific Edge magazine’s seventh annual Business Achievement Awards gala took place at an all-new venue on August 17, 2017. Kicking off with a redcarpet reception and dance performance by Diverse Art Center, the evening commenced at The Kahala Hotel & Resort with a welcome address from Pacific Edge Publisher Naomi Hazelton and Element Media President Jamie Giambrone, with KITV-4 news anchor Maleko McDonnell serving as master of ceremonies. The awards program recognized several of Hawai‘i’s top businesses and some of the most accomplished and innovative professionals in the marketplace.


MARYELLEN MARKLEY CEO, First Impressions Inc.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual who has been in the business for 25 years or longer and has gone beyond the standard obligations of their industry to contribute significantly to the local community. Dr. Maryellen Markley has served as board chair or director for more than 25 local nonprofits since 1995. She currently sits on the board for Habitat for Humanity and serves as chair of the Hawaii Professional Firefighters Foundation, which raises funds to help local firefighters battle job-related cancers. Dr. Markley has also worked with Hawaii News Now to develop a program to support the media needs of local charities. Her business, First Impressions, has raised more than $14.5

million over the past six years for nonprofits that provide human services to those in need. Before moving to Hawai‘i, Dr. Markley wrote health care legislation on Capitol Hill, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Orphan Drug Act. Dr. Markley


THE HOWARD HUGHES CORPORATION The Commitment to Green award honors an individual or business that has shown a commitment to sustainability. The Howard Hughes Corporation is dedicated to developing Ward Village into a vibrant urban community home to green spaces and initiatives in environmental sustainability. As the nation’s largest Platinum-certified LEED for Neighborhood Development project and the only one of its kind in the state of Hawai‘i, Ward Village is a leader in sustainable development and taking steps to become one of the most sustainable communities in the country. The Howard Hughes Corporation has allocated resources specifically to increase sustainability throughout Ward Village, including installing a marina trash skimmer at Kewalo Basin Harbor, which has since collected 4,500 pounds of trash. This year, Ward Village will retrofit 140 street lights throughout its 60 acres with LED lamps. The neighborhood’s expanded sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes create a pedestrian-friendly community while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.


is also a living organ donor. While working with the National Kidney Foundation, she donated her own kidney to someone she had never met. She also raised funds for the foundation to produce a video addressing the critical need for organ donations in Hawai‘i.



The Corporate Social Responsibility award honors a company that is dedicated to serving the needs of its community. Combining expertise in community development and property operation with a local team that understands the importance of island values and culture, The Howard Hughes Corporation has set a standard for corporate social responsibility in Hawai‘i. The 60-acre master-planned community is on track to becoming a dynamic urban neighborhood combining residential, retail, dining, entertainment and other mixed-uses in a way that respects the history of the land and celebrates everything that makes Hawai‘i unique. In 2014, The Howard Hughes Corporation launched the Ward Village Foundation, a charitable organization that benefits local nonprofits supporting the arts, education, environment and Hawaiian culture. Since its establishment, the nonprofit has awarded $1 million of its $2 million to over 25 local organizations.


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Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts The Best Family-Run Business award recognizes an outstanding company that is owned or operated by at least two family members and has successfully merged core family values with business interests and strategies. Specializing in tropically infused seasonings and Hawai‘i-grown cane sugar, Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts has grown from a small part-time business to a nationally recognized company. Founder Laura Cristobal-Andersland started the business in 2008 with $800 cash—the company is now projected to reach one million in gross sales this year. Salty Wahine products can now be found at over 200 stores around the world and at hotels and restaurants throughout Hawai‘i, the mainland, Canada, Europe and Asia. Salty Wahine also produces custom seasoning blends for chefs worldwide. Cristobal-Andersland’s son, Sean, serves as the company’s operations manager and heads up new product development and manufacturing. His fiancé, Jessika, provides innovative sales training, handles social media marketing and supervises the shipping department. Cristobal-Andersland’s daughter Kendall works in customer service and her other daughter, Nicole, reviews company policies to ensure they’re in keeping with Salty Wahine’s founding Hawaiian values.




President & Chief Marketing Officer, HDT The Sales & Marketing Executive of the Year award recognizes a sales and marketing executive whose agility, exceptional performance and effective leadership have demonstrated notable achievement toward company objectives. As HDT’s president and chief marketing officer, Jared Grugett has successfully transformed a bankrupt telecom company into the third-largest and fastest-growing internet service provider in Hawai‘i. Applying his extensive startup experience and more than 16 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, Grugett was able to raise more than $12 million in investment capital within the last two and a half years and increase company revenue by 90 percent over the last three. Grugett has been the company’s driving force in winning large projects and pursuing underserved markets. Thanks to his exceptional leadership and marketing expertise, HDT has sustained 30 percent growth over the last year and expanded operations to 12 states. In the last 12 months, HDT has signed over $18 million in contracts.


The award for Best Social Media Campaign honors the campaign that has successfully utilized strategic social media techniques to achieve established objectives. Hawaii Gas is committed to providing clean, affordable and reliable gas service and to advancing Hawai‘i’s clean energy future. On a platform where content is king, Hawaii Gas has succeeded in encouraging steady audience growth and engagement on a limited budget and without a dedicated social media manager. The company uses social media to distribute existing content from its website and YouTube channel, strategically deploying Facebook ads and boosted posts and focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to new content development.



The award for Business Executive of the Year honors the executive who has made the greatest positive impact on their company or organization through innovation, integrity and growth, leading their company to excellence in every aspect of business. Mary Ann Barnes began her career as a nurse and, over the past 43 years, has risen through the ranks from care provider, to administrator, to president of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, the largest health maintenance organization

in the state. As president, she oversees Moanalua Medical Center, 21 medical offices and clinics across the four major Hawaiian Islands and more than 4,400 employees serving 250,000-plus members in Hawai‘i. Under her leadership, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has seen an all-time high in membership and member satisfaction as well as some of the highest cancer-screening rates in Hawai‘i. The organization’s Medicaid, Medicare and commercial health plans are consistently rated the highest in Hawai‘i and a top plan nationally. Most recently, Barnes spearheaded Kaiser Permanente’s successful bid to operate Maui County’s three state-run hospitals in the first public-private partnership of its kind. The transfer to Kaiser Permanente’s affiliate, Maui Health System, will improve access to affordable, quality care for Maui County residents.


KUNOA CATTLE COMPANY The award for Best New Business recognizes a company in operation for no more than three years that has set itself apart not only in product or service but also established itself as a frontrunner in its field. Kunoa Cattle Company is a vertically integrated beef startup launched three years ago by entrepreneur Jack Beuttell and third-generation Kaua‘i rancher Bobby Farias. Instead of shipping cattle to the mainland for processing, Kunoa raises and processes its beef in Hawai‘i, creating local jobs and helping the state achieve its mission of doubling local food production. In November, the company acquired O‘ahu’s only USDA-inspected livestock harvest facility and is completing a series of major upgrades to the nearly seven-acre Kapolei property, focused on enhancing animal welfare, preserving meat quality and improving food safety. This spring, Kunoa announced its largest partnership with a Hawai‘i grocer to date and will be offering its 100 percent Hawai‘i-grown ground beef at all 15 Times Supermarkets throughout O‘ahu and at its two supermarkets on Maui. a high-quality, shelfstable snack similar to beef jerky.



Executive Director, Hawaiian Eye Foundation The Young Professional of the Year award recognizes a young entrepreneur, business owner or executive of a local company or organization under the age of 35 who exemplifies business excellence, community spirit, innovation and personal integrity. Darrah Kauhane, 29, is the executive director of the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving, restoring and improving the vision of people in the Pacific Basin through charitable service, education and research programs. Kauhane is a graduate of the John A. Burns School of Medicine and was the youngest member of the University of Washington Medical Center’s Board of Directors. She is also the area coordinator and mentor for half of The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life events on O‘ahu and has conducted medical missions around the world, providing free eye care services to marginalized populations. This past March, Kauhane led the Hawaiian Eye Foundation in launching the first annual Cataract Day, when free eye surgeries were conducted at community health centers, homeless shelters and through outreach screening programs. Since January, she has organized charitable surgical missions to Botswana, the Bahamas, Fiji, Yap and Palau.


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Hospitality is a complex industry, particularly in Hawai‘i, where so much lies in the tenuous balance between culture and innovation. “Sustainability, perpetuating native culture, protecting natural resources, embracing innovation, allowing tourism to thrive without impinging on a treasured way of life—these are topics essential not only to Hawai‘i’s future but to communities worldwide,” says George Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Ahead, leaders from a cross section of the industry shed insight into the multifaceted engine powering Hawai‘i’s economy.

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“We curate experiences that distinguish Hawai‘i from other sunand-sand destinations.”




a legacy property—an iconic venue where local patrons and guests have celebrated weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and a score of other occasions. Generations have made The Kahala home.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort has been in the Hawai‘i luxury market for 54 years. When it debuted in 1964, it was considered the premier resort property in the state. With its private and secluded location and prime beachfront positioning, The Kahala has attracted celebrities, royalty, corporate leaders and heads of state, including the last eight presidents of the United States. They come to The Kahala for its privacy, intimate size and high level of attention and service. We are removed from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki but are only minutes away should a guest wish to take advantage of our convenient location. We are also a hotel for kama‘aina. You could consider us

HAS YOUR GUEST DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS? Our guest profile remains stable, although we do see younger travelers from many of the markets we serve. The U.S West Coast is the principal market for The Kahala, but we’re also a popular destination for travelers from Japan and Korea, with the number of Chinese visitors beginning to grow. Oceania is another vibrant market for us. The hotel deploys a global sales team and maintains marketing relationships with Leading Hotels of the World, Preferred Hotels and Okura-Nikko. We partner with several luxury consortia and maintain close relationships with the wholesale and retail travel communities.


HOW HAS THE KAHALA MET THE GROWING DEMAND FOR AUTHENTIC, LOCALIZED EXPERIENCES? Authentic and experiential seem to be buzz words for today’s avid travelers, particularly the millennial traveler. To connect our guests to the host culture, we’ve launched The Kahala Cultural Initiative, where we curate experiences that distinguish Hawai‘i from other sun-and-sand destinations. We recently partnered with apprentice navigator Austin Kino to offer a sailing experience aboard a replica of an authentic Hawaiian sailing canoe. This is not your typical sailing experience—drawing on his experience as a voyager aboard the Hokule‘a, Austin takes guests out on the ocean and teaches them about celestial and wave navigation, Native Hawaiian fishing rights and the ancient Hawaiian system of land division known as ahupua‘a. Our visitors love it. In addition, the hotel recently confirmed a partnership with Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods with the intent of establishing The Kahala Legacy Forest on O‘ahu’s North Shore. Guests can plant their own native koa tree and monitor its progress using GPS technology. Reforestation is so critical to sustaining our island environment. We also encourage physical activities such as hiking, biking, ziplining and even paddleboard yoga. And let’s not forget our dolphin encounter, an up-close-andpersonal learning experience for which marine education and conservation are a very critical part of the program. Guests learn the importance of caring for our oceans and the many species that depend on the sea.


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CHRIS SBARBARO VICE PRESIDENT-HAWAII Enterprise, Alamo & National Car Rental

MORE AND MORE TRAVELERS ARE SEEKING AUTHENTIC, LOCALIZED EXPERIENCES. HAS THIS DYNAMIC AFFECTED BUSINESS IN ANY WAY? This dynamic continues to evolve, with many fantastic options and experiences for the visitor to choose from in Hawai‘i. What’s exciting for us is that renting a car to see and do these authentic experiences go hand in hand. What’s better than having the freedom to rent a convertible or Jeep and go anywhere you want to explore?

a ARE YOU OR ENTERPRISE HOLDINGS INVOLVED IN ANY COMMUNITY OUTREACH? Here in Hawai‘i, our employees are very active in and support several hundred nonprofit organizations and community events, including the Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association’s annual charity walks and our company-wide United Way campaigns across all islands, just to name a few. In fact, during our fiscal year 2017, the Enterprise team in Hawai‘i, along with our Enterprise Holdings Foundation, gave over $650,000 to support charitable causes and community events in Hawai‘i. In addition, our employees contributed their time and skills through thousands of volunteer hours. Of special significance was a $50,000 donation from the foundation to support the 75th anniversary commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Enterprise’s founder, Jack Taylor, was a decorated World War II veteran who served on the aircraft carrier that flew off the USS Enterprise. This eventually became the name of our company, which he went on to build after returning from war.



WHAT INSPIRED THE ADDITION OF ENTERPRISE RIDESHARE AND ENTERPRISE TRUCK RENTAL TO THE ENTERPRISE FAMILY OF RENT-A-CAR BRANDS? The Enterprise family of brands has been serving Hawai‘i for over 25 years, and our goal is to make sure we continue to evolve and expand our transportation options. Vanpooling with Enterprise Rideshare is a great solution for those with challenging commutes, especially from the west side of O‘ahu into the downtown and Waikiki areas. In addition, the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services is currently offering up to a $500 monthly subsidy for qualified riders to join a new vanpool, both reducing stress and saving individuals time and money. Enterprise Truck Rental is a great compliment to Enterprise’s existing business partners who own or lease their trucks but have short-term needs for projects—they can come to Enterprise and get that extra truck right away.

WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE BUSINESS? Complete customer satisfaction. That is the principle that has guided our company, and it remains at the heart of our culture today. From the beginning, we have focused on providing customers with a level of service that keeps them coming back to our three brands. To maintain that focus, we recruit smart, motivated women and men into our management-training program and teach them how to run the business. From the day they become front-line employees, their career advancement is directly tied to their success in completely satisfying customers. WHAT TRENDS AND TOURISM INDUSTRY DYNAMICS HAVE YOU OBSERVED DURING YOUR TIME AT ENTERPRISE HOLDINGS? As technology advances and new transportation options are presented, drivers will continue to look for ways to explore their options. Enterprise’s highly accessible network of “local” branches provides hourly, daily and weekly car rentals as cost-effective and consumerfriendly modes of transportation. Enterprise Holdings’ fleet of “virtual cars” is well positioned to quickly and efficiently introduce consumers to new fuel and vehicle technology, especially as transportation infrastructure and transportation alternatives evolve.


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a HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CONSUMER DEMOGRAPHIC? We’ve been trying to answer that question since we planted our first tree. The model has been evolving and expanding so rapidly. Our tree-planting program is used by nonprofits as a fundraising mechanism, by individuals for gift giving, by corporations for community and team building, by schools for educational purposes and by businesses for carbon offsetting and customer appreciation. Now we’re seeing a huge sector developing in the ecotourism market. WHAT MARKETING STRATEGIES DO YOU USE TO ENGAGE THIS DEMOGRAPHIC? We are not in the convincing business—we are in the alignment business. We focus on providing good, caring people with the opportunity to give back in a meaningful and tangible way. In the process, they create wonderful memories to last a lifetime. Each person who plants a tree with us becomes part of the solution to the environmental issues we face today. There is strength in numbers, and it is surprising how quickly things get done when many people focus on a single goal. The support of our Legacy Tree sponsors has resulted in a pristine 1,200-acre endemic forest on Hawai‘i Island, where nothing existed just a few short years ago. IN WHAT WAYS ARE YOU MEETING THE GROWING DEMAND FOR EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL? Our focus is on authentic and unique experiences. Most of our guests don’t want to be entertained, they want to be moved, enlightened and connected with this place and its people. They want the time and space for spontaneity and reflection so they can absorb the experience at their own pace. We pride ourselves on keeping our groups small and intimate, and we do not keep to a timeclock or schedule. Many of our guests return regularly to visit their trees and have become lifelong friends and supporters.



JEFF DUNSTER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative

WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE BUSINESS? I don’t know what the key to success is. It’s probably a bit different for everyone. But I do know the key to failure. You only fail if you quit. It is impossible to beat someone who never quits. WHAT TRENDS AND TOURISM INDUSTRY DYNAMICS HAVE YOU OBSERVED DURING YOUR WORK AT HLRI? By far the fastest-growing sector of tourism is responsible ecotourism, and millennials are driving this trend.

“By far the fastestgrowing sector of tourism is responsible ecotourism.”


a WHAT WAS THE VISION FOR HOTEL WAILEA WHEN YOU REINVENTED THE PROPERTY AS A LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOTEL? The vision was to do a soft opening to observe “who, what and how.” We discovered younger, adventurous couples loved the independent nature of the hotel and the fact that it’s sincere in its sense of place versus selling a particular brand experience.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE OPERATING AS AN OFF-BEACH HOTEL? Hotel Wailea provides guests with complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas and a five-minute shuttle to and from the beach, but we’ve found that people are spending less time on the beach today. Our guests appreciate a spectacular pool experience with private cabanas, where they aren’t surrounded by hundreds of other people.

HOW HAS HOTEL WAILEA MET THE GROWING DEMAND FOR EXPERIENTIAL AND SLOW TRAVEL? The secret is to evoke a specific feeling that our guests could not otherwise experience at a luxury megaresort or at home. We study who our guest is and why they ultimately chose Hotel Wailea. Because we took our time in shaping the message of Hotel Wailea, we were able to craft local experiences that speak to our clientele. For example, we offer a beach safari experience where guests can drive a replica convertible Porsche Speedster and take a luxurious picnic basket to a few secret Maui beaches. They can also tour our extensive orchard of mango and avocado trees to see where elements of their breakfast and poolside salads are grown.

HOW HAVE THESE DYNAMICS AFFECTED HAWAI‘I’S TOURISM INDUSTRY IN RECENT YEARS? I think there has been a shift in what has made Hawai‘i a cool destination for the younger demographic. We have observed a young, affluent clientele who heavily value open space and privacy when booking a hotel. These luxuryfocused guests are very in-room, design focused and prefer a gracious style of service with zero pretense. They don’t cook much at home and thus have deep restaurant experiences in their daily lives. The culinary adventure is an extremely important component in travel today, and that’s what we do at Hotel Wailea really well as Hawai‘i’s only member of Relais & Châteaux. In fact, Wailea was awarded the distinguished designation of #1 Hawaii Hotel by Condé Nast Traveler. Our team loves blazing this new trail for independent hotels in Hawai‘i. AS A PRINCIPAL AT PRIVATE LABEL COLLECTION, YOU’RE IN THE BUSINESS OF DEVELOPING, BRANDING AND MARKETING HOTELS TO APPEAL TO THE LUXURY TRAVELER. WHAT ARE YOUR STRATEGIES FOR CAPTURING THIS SEGMENT OF THE MARKET? We see lots of continued opportunity for small- to medium-sized hotels. It’s a property-by-property message that is most important. We don’t promote our management company, we promote the hotel properties themselves and build equity for owners. Our staff and service style is our brand.





Outrigger Resorts’ Signature Experiences invite guests to “escape ordinary” and discover the local culture through enriching programs and activities that create a deeper connection with the people and places they visit. From ecoadventure packages to culturally inspired vow renewal and sunset ceremonies, guests can expect to connect, have authentic experiences in iconic destinations, be inspired and feel alive. WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR MAINTAINING YOUR CONSUMER BASE? Travelers are savvy and have more accommodation options than ever before, including alternative lodging services such as Airbnb. Outrigger’s answer is to dig deeper into our brand promise: to be a place where local culture meets world-class hospitality. Our employees live and work by The Outrigger Way—Ke ‘Ano Wa‘a—a values-based management process that intricately connects the three pillars of the industry: our hosts (employees), our guests and the place. No matter the consumer demographic, staying true to The Outrigger Way keeps our guests coming back year after year. HOW HAVE THE ABOVE DYNAMICS AFFECTED HAWAII’S TOURISM INDUSTRY IN RECENT YEARS? Guests have high expectations. They want experiences that touch all the senses. The visitor demographic has and will continue to change as the economy changes, and it is our job to know the markets and respond to the change while remaining guided by our values. WHAT OTHER TRENDS AND INDUSTRY DYNAMICS HAVE YOU OBSERVED OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT? pment. As our islands are home to unique ecosystems, including coral reefs and diverse populations of native species found nowhere else in the world, Outrigger has initiated OZONE (Outrigger’s ZONE), a global conservation effort centered on protecting the health of coral reefs and the oceans surrounding the iconic beach destinations of Outrigger Resorts. Guests can take part in this important effort and interact and learn through in-room videos, on-property lectures and community activities like coral planting.



“Outrigger’s answer is to dig deeper into our brand promise: to be a place where local culture meets world-class hospitality.”


a MORE AND MORE TRAVELERS ARE SEEKING AUTHENTIC, LOCALIZED EXPERIENCES. HOW HAS SHERATON WAIKIKI MET THIS GROWING DEMAND FOR EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL? Hawaiian culture is at our core, and that’s something we strive to deliver at Sheraton Waikiki. Our lobby is filled with original artwork by local artists, and we do daily tours discussing the rich meaning behind each work. We also offer a ritual morning cleansing where guests meet on the beach and cleanse their spirits together as the sun rises above Waikiki on a new day. WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR MAINTAINING YOUR CONSUMER BASE? The key is understanding the different nuances of each market. Guests want to feel understood, and they want to feel in control. We work very hard to deliver a unique experience based on each market’s wants and needs. HAVE ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION SERVICES LIKE AIRBNB AFFECTED BUSINESS? The simple answer is yes. Alternative accommodations are a part of our world today, and these accommodations are offering a different experience from the traditional hotel or resort experience. The real issue here is not that this new alternative has grown in popularity, but the fact that it is creating large and concerning problems across the state. We estimate that there are over 30,000 alternative accommodations in Hawai‘i— O‘ahu alone has over 8,000—and only 800 or so have the permit required by the state. This results in less jobs and more expensive housing. They aren’t required to pay the Transient Accommodations Tax that we in the traditional tourism space are required to charge our guests, and we estimate that requiring them to follow the same tax guidelines would bring in another $100 million dollars a year for the state. With the number of challenges the


state is facing today, that tax revenue could help our ‘ohana and improve the lives of the people who call Hawai‘i home. It’s a complicated problem and needs to be addressed. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF HOSPITALITY LEADERS? Understand that the world is everevolving. What you learn today might be useless in 10 years as technology and customer demands change the way we do business. So be bold, be brave and always remember that people truly just want to feel special. That’s something that will never change. If you can make that happen with every person you touch, you’ll be able to change the world.

“People want to feel special. If you can make that happen with every person you touch, you’ll be able to change the world.”


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As a destination airline, we know our guests have made a significant investment in their vacation plan. Unlike business customers, leisure travelers have saved their money to come to Hawai‘i for a special occasion, such as a family vacation, honeymoon or anniversary. They deserve a travel experience that is as enjoyable and memorable as their time on our islands, and we have shaped our entire business model around this goal.

HAS YOUR CONSUMER DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGED OVER THE YEARS? We have significantly expanded our consumer demographic in the past decade by growing internationally in the Asia-Pacific region and entering new markets, including Japan, South Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand. WHAT MARKETING STRATEGIES DO YOU USE TO ENGAGE THIS DEMOGRAPHIC? Our international marketing has focused on raising awareness of Hawai‘i as a leading global destination and communicating how Hawaiian Airlines is uniquely positioned to deliver unmatched value and an authentic Hawaiian experience to travelers wishing to visit our islands.


MORE AND MORE TRAVELERS ARE SEEKING AUTHENTIC, LOCALIZED EXPERIENCES. HAS THIS INFLUENCED YOUR BUSINESS MODEL OR PRODUCT OFFERINGS? Absolutely. This is an area where Hawaiian Airlines enjoys a significant competitive advantage. Having served our community and visitors for 88 years, our employees are experts at providing a travel experience that immerses our guests in the sights, sounds and tastes of Hawai‘i throughout the flight. We treat our guests to complimentary island-inspired cuisine prepared by top local chefs who strive to showcase local ingredients, and we collaborate with renowned designer Sig Zane for the amenities we serve on board. Our employees are a great resource for guests looking for tips on activities, restaurant recommendations and places to explore. The Hawai‘i vacation has always been about our incomparable environment and opportunities for outdoor activity. WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE BUSINESS AND STAYING RELEVANT IN AN EVOLVING INDUSTRY? Besides being the global leader for on-time arrivals, we invest in our product and service to meet the evolving needs of our guests. We have retrofitted our aircraft with luxurious lie-flat first-class seats, added more premium economy seating and renovated all our airport lounges. In addition to providing guests with more amenities and superior comfort, we have expanded our network of flights both domestically and internationally to offer travelers more choices and flexibility when visiting our islands.







a HIGHGATE’S PORTFOLIO OF PROPERTIES CATER TO A VARIETY OF CONSUMERS. WHAT ARE YOUR STRATEGIES FOR REACHING THESE DIVERSE DEMOGRAPHICS? We’re constantly tracking the behavioral patterns of our guests and trying to stay ahead of the curve. A lot of our hotels are independent, which allows us to react quicker to market demands and guest trends than if we were driven by a brand standard. When we were reimagining ‘Alohilani, for example, one of the things we really wanted to focus on was slow travel. Rather than just providing a room and a place to get breakfast, we really try to be an allencompassing resort. In the earlier days when Waikiki was developed, there was a huge emphasis on the beach. Now I think a lot of guests really like to have a world-class pool experience at their resort. So we created two—one for kids and an adult-only pool with an infinity edge and a bar. We also felt it was important to offer a first-class fitness center and spa on property, especially as we transition to a luxury space. ‘Alohilani is an urban resort, but guests can really relax and not feel the hustle and bustle of the city. One of the environmental initiatives we have at Highgate properties in Hawai‘i is providing each guest with a reusable satchel so they don’t have to buy one-time-use plastic water bottles during their stay. They can fill it with filtered water straight from the hotel lobby and then take it with them afterwards as a memento.


HAVE ALTERNATIVE ACCOMODATION SERVICES LIKE AIRBNB AFFECTED BUSINESS? The hospitality sector is still highly compressed, even with Airbnb. The number of hotel rooms in Waikiki has shrunk over the last 10 years, and the number of air seats bringing people here has increased. The growing number of direct flights from different parts of Asia and the mainland has created additional compression of the marketplace. If anything, Airbnb has opened Hawai‘i up to a younger demographic and to first-time visitors who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford to come here. People who come to Hawai‘i tend to be repeat visitors, so it’s bringing more and more people here, which is great for the industry as a whole. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR HOTEL CLIENTS RELEVANT IN THE MARKETPLACE THROUGH TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION? Highgate is a big believer in technology and social media. More people are booking their travel online, so one of the things we did early on is strategically align ourselves with online travel agents. We have a broad network that helps us drive business to our diverse range of properties and a lot of third-party companies that help us post on social media and drive the image of our hotels. We also developed our own proprietary software that predicts trends and helps us manage revenue for all of our hotels across the platform. Revenue management is a big part of any hotel business, but we invested heavily in technology and data collection earlier than a lot of other companies out there. A lot of the big companies are doing it, but I don’t think they’re doing it to the degree that we are.

“We’re constantly tracking the behavioral patterns of our guests and trying to stay ahead of the curve.”


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RICHARD FRIED CHAIRMAN Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

How have Hawai‘i’s visitor

Visitors are much more aware of

demographics changed in

Hawai‘i’s unique culinary offerings

recent years?

and enjoy foods inspired by its

Hawai‘i is receiving more

ethnic and cultural diversity.

millennial visitors. This


a You’re a founding member of the law firm Cronin Fried Sekiya Kekina & Fairbanks. How did you end up on the HTA board of directors?

younger generation

What other trends and industry

of travelers are avid

dynamics have you observed?

adventurers who want an

Technology has made us more

authentic experience. They

informed and given travelers

aren’t content with merely

more options when choosing their

sunning themselves on

travel experiences. Visitors can

the beach—they want to

now research all there is to do and

uncover the essence of

choose a variety of experiences to

Hawai‘i, be in touch with

match their personal desires and

nature and meet new

interests. Through technology,


global travelers find that Hawai‘i is a fun, exciting, rejuvenating

How is HTA catering to

destination that remains closely

this new demographic?

tied to its cultural heritage and to

The term “Let Hawai‘i

the admirable attributes that first

Happen” is more than just

attracted people here and keep

a slogan. It describes how visitors

them coming back.

can come to the islands and

Social media has also helped

surrender to an experience found

make Hawai‘i hugely appealing.

nowhere else, an experience that

Travelers post their photos on

is personal and creates lasting

Facebook and Instagram and

memories. Hawai‘i’s tourism

their network of friends worldwide

industry is fortunate in that we are

want to come and experience the

experiencing a sixth straight year

islands in the same way. This has

of record visitor arrivals and visitor

translated into increased demand

Governor Abercrombie asked me


for the Hawai‘i experience. Global

if I wanted to serve, and I agreed

People worldwide want to

travelers recognize that Hawai‘i’s

because I found the tourism

experience the Hawaiian Islands,

unique appeal, harmonious way of

industry very interesting as well

and the tourism industry is

life, beautiful year-round weather,

as critical to Hawai‘i’s economy.

responding with new and more

interesting attractions, friendly

I bring legal perspective to the

products, new innovations and

people and, most of all, its aloha

board due to my background, but

new ways of enjoying life. Cuisine

spirit cannot be replicated by any

I’ve also been involved in hotel

is an excellent example of how

other place in the world.

ownership for decades.

Hawai‘i has evolved over the years.

“The term ‘Let Hawai‘i Happen’ is more than just a slogan. It describes how visitors can come to the islands and surrender to an experience found nowhere else, an experience that is personal and creates lasting memories.” 38








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TOM BELL PRESIDENT Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts



Continually reinvesting in our product and our team. Aside from large-scale renovations, we maintain a robust annual capital expenditure program to make sure all our properties are fresh and well maintained. We also recognize that tourists come here to experience Hawai‘i and the aloha spirit, so we celebrate the culture through our decor, uniforms, free cultural activities and guest offerings like Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling. We are the polar opposite of big box and corporate. Effectively communicating with our target customers is an equally important part of the equation. You can have a great product, but that doesn’t matter if nobody knows about you. We have fantastic sales and marketing teams deployed in Asia, Canada, Australia and the mainland United States who deliver our message globally and work to educate and build trusting relationships with our travel agent and wholesale partners. It has also been very interesting for me to see the dramatic shift from traditional marketing and advertising methods to newer digital marketing strategies. This is not to say traditional marketing doesn’t play an important role today, because it does. But as with everything else, our marketing has evolved. WHAT OTHER HOTEL TRENDS AND INDUSTRY DYNAMICS HAS HAWAIIAN HOTELS & RESORTS EFFECTIVELY NAVIGATED? It is an interesting dynamic being an independent, privately owned local hotel company competing on the same stage as larger companies and brands. Over the years we have built an incredible team and infrastructure. Getting the right people in the right positions and allowing them to do their jobs has helped tremendously as we continue to grow. HAVE ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION SERVICES LIKE AIRBNB AFFECTED BUSINESS? In the most basic sense, anyone selling room nights is a competitor. These short-term rental companies have grown in popularity in recent years, but we, too, have been realizing record growth, which leads me to believe this new niche market falls mainly outside of what our company provides. That being said, I believe all hotel and short-term rental products should be held to the same regulatory and tax requirements. It needs to be a level playing field. WHAT ELSE SETS HAWAIIAN HOTELS & RESORTS APART FROM YOUR COMPETITORS? A distinction worth noting is that Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts has a long history of owning and managing its resorts. Our owner-centric approach to hotel management is unique. We manage and judge our performance from the perspective of a property owner, right down to the bottom-line results.





“Mauna Lani offers more than just guest rooms—we offer an experience.”

a WHAT HAS BEEN KEY TO MAUNA LANI’S SUCCESS AS AN INDEPENDENT HOTEL? Independent hotels such as Mauna Lani Bay have never been in a better position to create a sense of place specific to the local community. Our services are designed to share this special place with our guests by anticipating their needs and helping them make lasting memories. Long-term partnerships in the industry are essential for successfully expanding the reach of the Mauna Lani brand. Taking the initiative to study trends and quickly implement them into our action plans has also added to our success. We strive to be a leader in the industry while staying true to our culture, and we always consider how our messaging will impact future guests. Be truthful, fluid and relevant. And have fun! WHAT SETS MAUNA LANI BAY HOTEL & BUNGALOWS APART FROM OTHER HOTELS? Mauna Lani is recognized for being a dedicated steward of the land. Our commitment to sustainability, cultural education and genuine hospitality has been a mainstay since the hotel opened in 1983. Being an independent hotel has allowed Mauna Lani to be creative as we develop services and activities for our guests. As we enter our 35th year, we are also fortunate to have had only two owners. This continuity is a value to our guests, and our new owners are committed to continuing Mauna Lani’s legacy. MORE AND MORE TRAVELERS ARE SEEKING AUTHENTIC, LOCALIZED EXPERIENCES. HOW HAS MAUNA LANI MET THIS GROWING DEMAND? We were one of the first resorts to acknowledge the benefits of solar,



and we continue to look toward sustainable solutions. Today’s travelers are also drawn to our hands-on honu program, initiatives in sustainable aquaculture and dedication to sharing the property’s deep Hawaiian roots and cultural practices. HAVE ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION SERVICES LIKE AIRBNB AFFECTED BUSINESS? Services such as VBRO and Airbnb can affect demand for larger suite-type accommodations, but fortunately our pace of business remains quite strong. Mauna Lani offers more than just guest rooms—we offer an experience, from cultural and recreational activities to hospitality services rooted in the aloha spirit.

WHAT OTHER TRENDS AND INDUSTRY DYNAMICS HAVE YOU OBSERVED? The increase in air lift and alternative accommodation services has allowed for even greater access to Hawai‘i Island and enabled us to engage travelers that previously were only drawn to O‘ahu and Maui. There is a lot of noise in the travel industry over social media, so it’s important that Mauna Lani’s reputation is positive on travel platforms such as TripAdvisor. Our associates are focused on engaging with our guests to enhance their visit and quickly resolve any obstacles that may arise. High tech and high touch is necessary to ensure all guests leave with fond memories of their time at Mauna Lani.


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PLACE TRAVELERS TODAY ARE HUNGRY FOR AUTHENTICITY, from how they choose to fill their days to all the things that shape the guest experience before they even check in. Ahead, meet three experts in the field of setting the scene and get their take on the design trends gaining traction in Hawai‘i and beyond, including what those trends reveal about the contemporary traveler.






In the last couple of years, we have seen a shift from standardization to customization in hotels, where design reflects the location alongside key brand attributes. In the past, you could have two hotels from the same brand in completely different locations, and both hotels would have the same look. Travelers still want the consistency of service and quality you expect from brands, but they want it alongside a genuine experience that only that destination can offer. We maintain the high standards of the brands we represent, but we make each property unique, whether by sourcing


work from local artists or incorporating local textiles to reinforce a sense of place. That’s something we’ve seen globally and even more so here in Hawai‘i. There is a deep appreciation for the land and the culture, and we enjoy showcasing that in a modern way. My job as an interior designer is more than just decorating a space. It’s about doing the research and sharing stories that will influence the design and shape better guest experiences. Landmarks, maps or cityscapes may influence the graphics we use. A local legend may inspire the chef to create a new, locally inspired dish. The boundaries of where design begins and ends are changing.

What sets Looney & Associates apart from other design firms? As a 22-year interior design and hospitality interior architecture firm with offices in Dallas, Chicago and Honolulu, Looney & Associates brings a broad perspective, deep experience and a spirit of collaboration to our award-winning designs. I’ve worked in all three offices over the course of my career, and there’s a sense of camaraderie and common purpose across all three. The collaboration between our design teams in each location brings a unique aesthetic to our projects. I’m proud of the work we’re doing, and I’m glad we can play a part in designing properties that bring greater depth and value to the wonderful lifestyle here.


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a WHAT SETS 87ZERO APART FROM OTHER FIRMS? Because 87zero evolved from a design and architectural studio into a product development and furnishing company, we understand the entire process of design, through fulfillment and installation. All of our manufacturing and products are produced with Forest Stewardship Council-certified and/or sustainable materials and production practices. We are also unique in that we are multidisciplined. We not only produce furniture, fixtures and equipment for hospitality, but we also provide custom-fabricated products for high-end retail and other commercial projects. Servicing is also a big part of our company’s DNA. We not only provide use-and-care and servicing for all of our 87zero products, we are also Authorized Service Providers (ASP) for Miele appliances as well as Studio Becker millwork. Besides manufacturing custom industrial products and servicing, our calling card is our dedication to MQS, or Minimum Quality Standards. We take the time to study the MQS requirements to ensure our products last for the lifespan of the project.



WHAT DESIGN TRENDS HAVE YOU OBSERVED IN THE HOSPITALITY SECTOR IN RECENT YEARS? Locally and globally I see a trend towards design-integrated technology for both vacationers and business travelers. Typical hotel guests have multiple devices, and there is a greater emphasis on charging stations and USB ports as well as wireless access. As for local design aesthetics, I still see a moderate amount of wood finishes used in hotel room renovations for warmth and character, blended with modern details such as free standing vanities and glass shower enclosures. I also see the use of modern materials, such as engineered quartz, in lieu of natural granite and marble. We will also be seeing more rectilinear tile and flooring in brick patterns instead of square formats.



Mitch Zerg & Associates

a WHAT WAS YOUR MISSION IN STARTING MITCH ZERG & ASSOCIATES AND WHAT ARE YOU KNOWN FOR? What I did is bring residential comfort, relaxation and quality to the hospitality world, focusing on custom furniture and lighting.

HOW HAS THE HOSPITALITY DESIGN INDUSTRY CHANGED OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER? Luxury doesn’t mean gold and silver anymore. It’s the comfort of the seats, your towel—anything you touch. People have gotten so comfortable with hotel amenities that now you can buy any of the furniture you find in the high-end resorts. So first it was bringing residential product into hospitality. Now you can have hospitality amenities in your home. It’s been quite interesting to see this evolution. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS TO HAWAI‘I? We’re seeing a variety of design firms from the mainland doing environments in the islands. I try to bring new design to the islands and give local firms equal play. My interest in bringing products to Hawai‘i wasn’t to make a killing financially. Hawai‘i has a spirit and a culture, and I was interested in learning to integrate and share that with my factories. The challenge for me during the last six or seven years of coming to the islands was learning what guests’ needs are, hearing what local designers want and bringing the right spices to the mix. I try to be jewelry to the industry. A lot of properties want something outside of the box, but it’s important to integrate local flavor and local materials. The key is providing modern technology and modern products and still maintaining the charm that brings people to the islands in the first place. Personally, I don’t want to see a room that I can see in New York.



| 45


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Named “Waikiki’s Hip New Place to Stay” by The New York Times, the art-centric Surfjack hotel has also been named one of the “Best New Hotels in the World” by Travel + Leisure, and a “Top Hotel in Hawaii” by Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious 2017 Readers’ Choice awards.

Mahina & Sun’s, by James Beardnominated Chef Ed Kenney, features a modern take on traditional island cuisine, starring locally sourced ingredients and sustainable seafood. The signature “Family Feast” includes a whole line-fish and all the sides, meant to share. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a DJinfused Sunday brunch.

A favorite stopover for Honolulu’s best known musicians, surfers, designers, filmmakers, artists and entrepreneurs, the Surfjack is known for its curated line-up of events and experiences, from talk story sessions, pop up shops and pool parties, to fashion shows, movie screenings, rooftop yoga, and more.

Dive in and stay awhile, the Surfjack’s Swim Club is accepting members. Join to unlock benefits like free valet parking, free food and handcrafted drinks, funky swag, and a free overnight stay on your birthday. Become a VIP member and you’ll get free valet parking for life.



| 47

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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT Congratulations to the 2017 ASID Design Excellence Award winners. Hawaii is blessed with talented local designers that can skillfully design any type of project, small or large. Whether your project is a hotel, condominium tower, home, health care office, restaurant, retail store or educational facility, I encourage everyone, including all businesses and our many part-time residents, to think local when choosing an interior designer. Over the course of my 20 years in the field, I’ve often encountered the belief that interior designers are unaffordable. Here’s what everyone needs to know—designers will work within your budget. If you only need help with one room or want a professional opinion on plans you’ve drawn or furniture you’ve picked, most designers will provide this service. Pick up the phone and ask if they are willing to take on a small, budget-friendly job. You will be so happy you did! Many people feel they have a good eye for form, function and color. But while you may

have an idea of what you want, there are still valuable resources and insight that only a designer can provide. An ASID interior designer is trained to enhance your quality of life wherever you live, work, play or heal. To find an interior designer in Hawaii that best fits your design needs, visit us at Everything ASID’s Hawaii Chapter offers its members is 100 percent volunteer based. I’d like to extend a big mahalo to my amazing board for all that you do, including putting together the Design Excellence Awards Gala. Speaking of the Gala, special thanks goes to Senators Stanley Chang and Will Espero for presenting a letter of appreciation from the Hawaii State Senate. Finally, I’d like to thank all of our generous sponsors, many of which continue to support our chapter year after year. Aloha, Chuen Yee, ASID


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Photo of Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina by Christian Horan Photography

The design team transformed an unattractive into team a newtransformed urban oasis an with an eighthTheroof design unattractive The outdoor design team transformed an unattractive fl oor lounge and plunge pool with roof into a new urban oasis with an eighthroof into a new urban oasis with an eighthan entertainment deck which opened up to floor outdoor lounge and plunge pool with floor outdoor lounge and plunge pool with the new sky lobby, bar and restaurant, as an entertainment deck which opened upupto an entertainment deck which opened to well as a fi tness facility. The new two-story the new sky sky lobby, barbar and restaurant, asas the new restaurant, retail podiumlobby, included and a 34,000 square foot well well as aas fitness facility. The new two-story a fitness facility. The new two-story Nordstrom Rack anchor, a new food and retailretail podium included a 34,000 square podium included a 34,000 squarefoot foot From new construction to major renovations, beverage venue Duke’s lane market among Nordstrom Rack anchor, a new food Nordstrom Rack anchor, a new foodand and Waikiki, the heart of Hawaii’s tourism and others andvenue a newDuke’s Porte lane Cochere on among Seaside From new construction to major renovations, rom new construction to major renovations, beverage marketamong beverage venue Duke’s lane market hospitality industry, continues to tourism be the epicenter Waikiki, theofheart of Hawaii’s Avenue. Waikiki, the heart Hawaii’s tourism and and others a new Porte Cochere Seaside others andand a new Porte Cochere ononSeaside of activity. The recently completed hospitality continues toadaptive be the epicenter ospitality industry,industry, continues to be the epicenter Avenue. Avenue. reuseofproject, exemplifi es how collaboration activity. The recently completed adaptiveand f activity. The recently completed adaptive creative solutions can deliver successful results. reuse project, exemplifi es how collaboration Adaptive reuse of euse project, exemplifies how collaboration and and creative solutions can deliver successful results. Adaptive reuse reative solutions can deliver successful results. underutilized buildings Adaptive reuse ofof Waikiki Trade Center, a 37-year-old, 22-story, underutilized buildings Waikikioffi Trade Center, awas 37-year-old, 22-story, brings life andbuildings vitality to the mixed-use ce building a prime candidate underutilized Waikiki Trade Center, 37-year-old, 22-story, brings life and vitality to the mixed-use offiace building a prime for transformation located in was the heart of candidate the community. brings life and vitality to the mixed-use offi ce building was a prime candidate forrevitalization transformation located in the heart of the Waikiki along Kuhio Avenue. or transformation located inalong the heart of the ~community. Linda Miki Waikiki revitalization Kuhio Avenue. community. Considering its ideal location and heavy foot ~ Linda Miki Waikiki revitalization along Kuhio Avenue. Considering its ideal location and heavy foot traffic, the existing office building experienced ~ Linda Miki onsidering ideal location and heavy experienced foot traffiits c, the existing ce building limited growth and fell offi beyond its full potential This quick adaptive reuse transformation to limited growth fell beyond its full potential affic, the existing offiand ce building experienced This quick adaptive reuse transformation to of generating revenue as well as contributing a full-service Hyatt Centric Hotel required of generating revenue asits well contributing mited growth and fell beyond fullaspotential full-service Hyatt Centric Hotel required This aquick adaptive reuse transformation to positive activity to the community. great planning, coordination coordinationand and positive activityas to well the community. f generating revenue as contributing greatstrategy, strategy, a full-service Hyattplanning, Centric Hotel required collaboration among variouslandowners, landowners, ositive activity to the community. collaboration among the the various strategy, planning, coordination and Chartres Lodging Group & Coastwood Capital Chartres Lodging Group & Coastwood Capital great WTC Oahu Property, LLC, G70as asarchitect architect WTC Oahu Property, LLC, G70 collaboration among the various landowners, GroupGroup who who formed the WTC Oahu Property, LLC, formed the WTC Oahu Property, LLC, and ascontractor, contractor, andcivil, civil,Swinerton Swinerton Builders Builders as hartres Lodging Group & Coastwood Capital Oahu360 Property, LLC, G70 as architect saw the opportunity to bring new lifelife to to WTC sawviable the viable opportunity to bring new Design as interior designers, DorvinLei’s Lei’s Design 360 as interior designers, Dorvin roup formed the WTC Oahu Property, LLC, andascivil, Swinerton Builders as contractor, thiswho Waikiki landmark. this Waikiki landmark. DB Mechanical, and project consultants as DB Mechanical, project consultants aw the viable opportunity to bring new life to Design 360 as interiorInterface designers, Dorvin Lei’s BASE (structural), Interface (electrical), Mizo BASE (structural), (electrical), Mizo hisThe Waikiki firm enlisted to help envision Waikiki’s as DB Mechanical, and project consultants fiThe rm landmark. enlisted G70G70 to help envision Waikiki’s & Associates (food service), Walters, & Associates (food service), Walters,Kimura, Kimura, first Hyatt Centric (brand introduced in 2015) (structural), Interface Mizo first Hyatt Centric (brand introduced in 2015) to to BASE Motoda (landscape), Pacifi(electrical), cc AquaTech Motoda (landscape), Pacifi AquaTech(pool), (pool), hefeature firmfeature enlisted G70 to help envision Waikiki’s 230 above-market distinctive guest & Associates (food service), Walters, Kimura, 230 above-market sizesize distinctive guest and retail tenants worked together to make and retail tenants worked together to make rstroom Hyatt Centric (brand introduced in 2015) to room layouts capturing unique Diamond Head Motoda layouts capturing unique Diamond Head (landscape), Pacific AquaTech (pool), thisproject projectaasuccess. success. this and above-market ocean views from itsdistinctive signature circular eature 230 size guest and ocean views from its signature circular and retail tenants worked together to make windows. oom layouts capturing unique Diamond Head windows. this project a success. nd ocean views from its signature circular indows.

ya centric ya centric ya centric aikiki each aikiki each aikiki each

Key design strategies were incorporated to increase revenue generating space at the Key design strategies were incorporated to retail Key design strategies were incorporated to street front while capitalizing on the open area increase revenue generating space at the retail increase revenue generating space at the retail of the 8th fl oor podium deck while meeting street front while capitalizing on the open area street front while capitalizing on the criteria open area Waikiki’s special design district of the 8th flfloor oor podium deck while meetingand of review. the 8th podium deck while meeting Waikiki’s special design district criteria and Waikiki’s special design district criteria and

review. review. By working together from the start, we developed cost-saving design alternatives By togetherfrom fromthe the start, By working working together start, wewe for the project. Thisdesign early strategic approach developed alternatives developed cost-saving cost-saving design alternatives saved valuable time on the aggressive project for the project. approach for project.This Thisearly earlystrategic strategic approach schedule which included detailed phasing and saved valuable project saved valuabletime timeon onthe theaggressive aggressive project numerous permits to detailed streamline workand and a schedule which included phasing schedule which included detailed phasing and careful collaboration with owner and anchor numerous permits work andand a a numerous permitstotostreamline streamline work tenants to get major utilities tenant space careful collaboration with owner and anchor careful collaboration with owner and anchor tenants get major utilities and tenant space This turnedtoover before design was complete. tenants to get major utilities and tenantThis space turned over before design tenants was complete. was critical to provide time to complete turned over before design was complete. This was critical to provide tenants time to complete construction and provided opportunity for them was critical to provide tenants time to complete construction provided opportunity them to be openand before the hotel was in for operation. construction and the provided opportunity for them to This be open before hotel in operation. early planning alsowas enabled a large to beearly openplanning before the wasain operation. This alsohotel enabled large existing tenant and the parking structure to This early planning also enabled a large existing tenant and the parking structure to remain in operation while the construction remain intenant operation the construction existing andwhile the parking structure to began. began. in operation while the construction remain began. With right balance of hotel development With thethe right balance of hotel development and retail mix, this adaptive reuse urban and retail mix, this adaptive reuse urban oasisoasis With the right balance of hotel development was financially feasible successful. was financially feasible and and successful. This This and retail transformed mix, this adaptive reuse urbanproperty oasis project an underutilized project transformed an underutilized property was fi nancially feasible and successful. This into a higher better helped transform into a higher andand better use,use, helped transform project transformed an while underutilized property thethe Kuhio Avenue façade creating jobs Kuhio Avenue façade while creating jobs into aa new higher and use,and helped and hotel forbetter residents visitors to to and a new hotel for residents and transform visitors the Kuhio Avenue façade while creating jobs enjoy. enjoy. and a new hotel for residents and visitors to enjoy. Learn more about G70G70 at G70.DESIGN Learn more about at G70.DESIGN Learn more about G70 at G70.DESIGN



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hen Sukit Kanaprach first started The Orchid Lei Company in 2003, he was the company’s one and only employee. Kanaprach had to learn how to manage every single step needed to import and export orchid leis. He dealt with local farmers on both O‘ahu and the Big Island, coordinated with farms in Thailand, handled the shipments, removed cargo from the docks, delivered the leis to customers and juggled invoices and payments. It was a labor of love that Kanaprach has since expanded into a 12-employee operation out of Kalihi. The company provides leis for hotels on O‘ahu and wholesalers throughout Hawai‘i and the world. Now 40, the Bangkok-born business owner relishes overseeing a company that delivers flowers and “makes people happy.” “Even today I don’t think I’m a president, I’m just one of the workers,” Kanaprach says. “We work together here—I can’t do it myself anymore. It would be impossible.” The Orchid Lei Company formed as an off-shoot of ECAN, a Thai-based orchid lei company that Kanaprach’s parents purchased in 1992. Though he never intended to get involved in the family



business, Kanaprach started putting in time while earning his master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology at Hawai‘i Pacific University. That meant 4 a.m. wake-up calls, full days spent surviving the rigors of being the company’s sole employee, full evenings of night classes, then studying and homework until at least midnight. It’s a grind that Kanaprach assumed without question. Even now, with a dozen full-time employees at his disposal to distribute the company’s 300 unique types of leis, he’s still up at 5 a.m. working seven days a week. “You have to love it,” Kanaprach says. “If there’s something that needs to be done, it needs to be done.” That determination is how Kanaprach handles all the stresses of running a business with so many variables. When perishable orchids are transported across the world, a delay of a day or two can mean the loss of $15,000 or more in a single shipment. A slight malfunction or miscalculation of the temperature of the shipping container can result in a box of rotting flowers on arrival. A storm can alter timetables by a week. Sometimes, the country’s customs office fails to inspect the cargo before it spoils. All this forces Kanaprach—whose calm,

“You have to love it. If there’s something that needs to be done, it needs to be done.”


soft-spoken demeanor is surely an asset in this industry—to be a creative problem-solver. “It’s a part of business,” he says. “What can we fix? What needs to be delivered tomorrow? What needs to be done? What needs to be fixed? The flower part is the last thing we worry about. We just need to fix the problem first.” A small shipment of a dozen premium leis was once held up by customs in Japan and wasn’t going to arrive in time for the opening of a temple there. Kanaprach had three days to find a solution. So he bought a commercial plane ticket for one of his workers, who brought the leis on the plane and delivered them in person. That kind of personal touch is Kanaprach’s forte. Over the past year and a half, he has provided lunch for his workers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays knowing that this small gesture of appreciation makes his employees—the backbone of the company—feel valued and work more efficiently. Kanaprach figures that this way, they don’t have to leave the company’s Kalihi office to get lunch three days a week. Kanaprach also had to learn the hard lesson that sometimes, he can’t fix everything. Recently, one of the company’s employees was experiencing myriad personal issues. Kanaprach did his best to accommodate him, being as flexible and understanding as he could. Eventually, though, after the employee missed weeks of work without notice, Kanaprach made the heartbreaking decision to let him go. “I almost feel like I failed him because I couldn’t help him,” Kanaprach says, with tears in his eyes. His candid empathy speaks to both his humanity and the weight of managing a dozen employees who have their own personal lives and responsibilities. “He’s all about people,” says Kanaprach’s wife, Rebecca, who also works for The Orchid Lei Company. “He hopes that they can grow at the same time as we are growing together. Leave no people behind, because it makes you feel connected and it makes other people feel successful. It’s part of his fulfillment. We’re really grateful for the staff who are doing their best every day to make it work as a team.”


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The Restaurant Dad KELI‘I GOUVEIA General Manager HULA GRILL





n 2004, Kamehameha Schools graduate Keli‘i Gouveia was working with troubled teens at a Marimed Foundation group home when he decided to take a job working security at Tiki’s Grill & Bar, where his twin brother was assistant general manager. He was reliable, got along with everybody and always punched in with a good attitude, so Tiki’s later asked him to jump into the kitchen. Soon he was running expo, then keeping the back of the house under control as assistant kitchen manager. Within a year, his side hustle had become a promising career. Despite his lack of experience, Gouveia


“I would love to be CEO of this company one day, and I’m going to push my team to reach for the stars, too.”


earned his chops on the fly by paying attention, cultivating relationships with his coworkers and stepping in wherever he was needed. “I got my butt kicked,” he says. “It was hard work, but the culture was so different, and the company took unbelievable care of us.” When the owners opened Holokai Grill in 2007, Gouveia jumped at the chance to manage both the kitchen and the front of the house. Later that year, however, Gouveia heard that Duke’s Waikiki was looking for managers. “T S Restaurants was a company that everyone talked about working for, so it felt like a good idea to make the switch,” he says. “It was the smartest thing I did with my career.” Six years later, T S Restaurants recruited Gouveia to work upstairs at Hula Grill in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, where he spent a year and a half as assistant general manager. Now general manager, he leads a team of six floor managers, five kitchen managers, an assistant general manager and a chef. As a board member for the Hawaii Restaurant Association, he is constantly mining opportunities to grow the restaurant’s customer base and


improve the landscape as a whole. “There’s so much room for our companies to be more open to supporting each other,” Gouveia says. “I’d like to see the walls of competition come down so we can help each other succeed.” One of Gouveia’s goals for Hula Grill is to source more of their ingredients locally. “Not many people know we are a fish house,” he says. “Sustainability is a big focus for us. We’ve been buying from local fisherman for years because it’s important to give back to our communities.” Competition can be tough given the sheer volume of restaurants in Waikiki, but the people and sense of place at Hula Grill have earned the restaurant a solid following. “When you walk in the building, everyone is smiling, and that really resonates with guests,” Gouveia says. “It’s always my mission to grow the business, but we don’t get better unless everyone on the floor is enjoying themselves.” Another way Gouveia keeps his team happy is by lending an ear to anyone who needs it. “Our employees stay with us because when it comes to taking care of them, we’re all in,” he says. “They see that we care about their careers and want to see them grow.” After many years of mistakes made and lessons learned, Gouveia cautions that the biggest oversight managers can make, especially in the fast-paced food service industry, is leading with an all-work-no-play mentality. “Having fun at work will draw you in and make you want to be there,” he says. “There’s no reason for people to be here when they’re exhausted. We call it the T S lifestyle—you’re meant to work normal hours, and that’s rare in the restaurant industry.” Gouveia even goes so far as to take young managers under his wing and teach them life skills beyond the service industry. “I’m like the restaurant dad,” he says. “One girl asked me to go with her to help her buy a car. Those kinds of things are my favorite part of the job.” Above all, Gouveia teaches his staff to never stop learning—a philosophy that has served him well over the course of his career. “I tell them to read and educate their minds instead of staying stagnant, and it reflects in their work,” he says. “I would love to be CEO of this company one day, and I’m going to push my team to reach for the stars, too.”



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Born This Way SANDY NARVAEZ Director of Sales & Marketing HILTON WAIKIKI BEACH



career in hospitality was practically Sandy Narvaez’s birthright—her father worked at Paradise Cove, where she got the opportunity to lifeguard in college, and her mother was a director of IT with Polynesian Adventure Tours, where she later worked as an outside sales and promotions manager. But even during her time doublemajoring in international business and marketing at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and finding relevant work after college, she still didn’t consider that a career in hospitality might be her destiny. In 2007, Narvaez signed on as a sales manager at Makaha Resort & Golf Club, assuming duties in sales and marketing, handling outside sales efforts and servicing large travel groups. After two years, Narvaez decided to step away from tourism and try her hand at retail as a sales and marketing director for The Wedding Ring Shop. But it took her just six months of being away to realize that hospitality was the perfect vehicle to cultivate her passion for travel and new experiences. In 2010, Narvaez joined the Hilton Waikiki Beach on Kuhio as its transient and group sales manager before accepting a promotion to director of sales and marketing for the DoubleTree by Hilton Alana Waikiki. She decided to return to Kuhio as assistant director of sales to focus on the



birth of her second child, but within a year she was back in her beloved director role, ready to tackle any challenges Hilton could throw at her. Today Narvaez strives to achieve Hilton’s goals for growth while building a talented team of industry professionals united by a common vision for excellent service. With 601 guest rooms, all-hour room service and 17,000 square feet of event space, the Hilton Waikiki Beach on Kuhio is one of the busiest in Waikiki. Narvaez’s responsibilities are extensive, but she’s grateful that no two days are the same. Her efforts have contributed to many measures of success, including earning the hotel a number-one ranking in guest loyalty and customer satisfaction within the Americas region of Hilton Worldwide. “Together we review our strategies and ensure we are working diligently to achieve our goals,” she says. “That award is definitely something we are proud of because it illustrates our focus on providing outstanding guest service while working together as one unit.” Narvaez says the most challenging aspect of her job is balancing her role as a driven businesswoman with an equally busy home life caring for two children. Her secret? “It’s about authenticity,” she says. “My life is full of constant decisions and trade-offs. At the end of the day, I do my best to live the most authentic


“The hospitality industry presentsso many opportunities to think beyond our comfort zones, and that ‘light bulb’ moment really energizes me.”



life possible, and at work it’s equally important that our team is motivated to succeed and maintain a healthy work-life balance.” Narvaez’s greatest satisfaction is seeing her staff grow and forge collaborative solutions. “I am passionate about helping them strengthen their skillsets and evolve to the next level of their abilities,” she says. “Whether we are looking at numbers and identifying an opportunity or just working out a communication barrier, finding solutions is fun. The hospitality industry presents so many opportunities to think beyond our comfort zones and that ‘light bulb’ moment really energizes me.” One idea she’s helped bring to fruition is a new virtual reality app that lets travelers experience the hotel’s picturesque ocean views before booking their stay. Right now, Narvaez and her team are focused on finding creative ways to market the hotel’s M.A.C 24/7 restaurant and special event venues like its Altitude @ 37 space, as well as figuring out how to further infuse Hawaiian culture into the guest experience. No matter the endeavor, Narvaez prides herself on being a trustworthy business partner who is sincere in her efforts. “One thing I am very proud of is the fact that I was born and raised here in Hawai‘i and was able to climb the ladder thus far as a local,” she says. “I think it’s my responsibility to incorporate that aloha into my team.” Above all, Narvaez’s single most important motivator is that she truly loves what she does. “I think Maya Angelou said it best,” she says. “‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.’”


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“We took a core concept and built everything around it. One of my passions is tying everything together.”





Mr. Robata KEITH MALLINI General Manager BAKU



eith Mallini’s fascination with the alluring persona of a restaurateur began as a teenager working at his aunt’s restaurant on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Behind the scenes, he says, the reality was much less glamorous, but when it came time to open, his Aunt Annie would be dressed to the nines and commanding the room as an icon in the community. Drawn to the culture and energy of the restaurant industry, Mallini sidelined his original career plans in biomedical engineering and international business to help take over L’Economie, a little bistro tucked into the Arts District in his native New Orleans. “That was pretty much the end of all my other aspirations,” he laughs. When one of his business partners—a CIA-trained chef—decided to abandon the endeavor six months in, Mallini picked up the slack in the kitchen and found he had a knack for running back-of-house operations, too. Learning on the job came easily to Mallini—his aunt had him bussing tables at 12 and mixing drinks at 14—and he’s won numerous awards and culinary competitions utilizing the skills he’s picked up over the years. (His favorite? The American Culinary Federation competition he won for a dish featuring Louisiana’s invasive swamp rat.) After closing down L’Economie due to structural issues in the building, Mallini went on to take over a restaurant in Baton Rouge, one with a much higher volume, that he renamed Mallini’s, The Place. “I was running the kitchen and also the front of the house, so I developed a sixth sense about what was happening out on the floor just by looking at the servers’ faces,” Mallini says. “And having past experience in the kitchen, I could understand what the back of the house was going through at all times and could help ease the tension.” After about five years in Baton Rouge and a stint as general manager at Victor’s in the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, Mallini was offered a job in Hawai‘i, where his mother was from and where he’d spent some of his childhood. Mallini spent the next several years overhauling the food and beverage programs at the Hanohano Room and a few other properties in Hawai‘i before finding himself in Chicago, where he eventually opened the restaurant Prasino and was given free rein to build the beverage program and refine the place’s sustainable, organic concept. It was there he made the contact that would eventually lead him to his most recent venture at the newly revamped International Market Place. Mallini was living on the Big Island and managing Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton Kona when his old contact from Prasino asked him to head up the Waikiki eatery he was opening

with mainland investors. “I figured they needed somebody to help them navigate the waters of doing business in Hawai‘i,” Mallini says. “I really stressed the fact that we needed to embrace the culture. Those were my conditions to come on board.” At Baku, nearly everything plays off the restaurant’s robatayaki (“fireside cooking”) concept. “There were some specific menu items that the owners wanted to bring over from the other location, but I was given free rein as far as service style, training and beverage program,” Mallini says. “We took a core concept and built everything else around it. One of my passions is tying everything together.” Given his experience managing restaurants in soulful New Orleans, sleepy Hana and cutthroat Chicago, Mallini found himself in a unique position to forge a good balance of embracing progress and honoring tradition. “I remember I was interviewing for a job here, and the director, who was from New York, was telling me about how many managers he had been through,” Mallini says. “I asked him if any of them knew the difference between ‘Ewa and Diamond Head. He was like, ‘What do you mean?’ It’s things like that—you have to be able to relate to your staff.” Since opening the restaurant in September, Mallini’s days have been a whirlwind of admin, phone calls, meetings with wine purveyors, POS programming and menu edits. But there’s nothing more rewarding, he says, than sitting down with a glass of wine after a full day of putting out fires around the restaurant. What does it take to make it in this industry? According to Mallini, a generous helping of expertise, patience and humor. “I’ve found that a sense of humor goes a long way in any situation,” he laughs.


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n 2005, Patrick Ahler came to Hawai‘i to catch some waves, but it wasn’t long before the avid surfer was making waves of his own as a digital marketing expert and entrepreneur. Fresh out of Tennessee’s Southern Adventist University, Ahler was determined to put down roots in Hawai‘i. The islands had called to him ever since his early days of learning to surf with his father, who had lived here. With his computer systems administration degree in hand and an ambition to succeed, he was able to land a job within 24 hours of arriving in the islands. This early opportunity to work at a web design agency and later a web hosting company proved to be an important stepping stone in his career. Over the next few years, Ahler worked as a systems administrator, project manager, developer and designer for more than 600 websites. This extensive experience allowed him to hone his skills and develop the expertise needed to succeed in the fast-paced and highly competitive web hosting industry. It was during this time that he met experienced revenue manager and his future Lights On Digital co-founder Will Song. Capitalizing on his experience in one of the online world’s most competitive industries, Ahler went on to spearhead the development of a digital marketing and online strategy for Hawai‘i’s fastestgrowing—and now largest—hotel chain. After witnessing firsthand the impact that cutting-edge digital marketing and revenue management strategies could have for distressed hotels, Ahler and his co-founder knew what they needed to do. “We saw a huge opportunity to reach an underserved but very important segment of the hospitality market,” says Ahler, now 35. “Many independent hotels, resorts and micro-chains don’t have their



“No one else in Hawai‘i was doing what we were doing.”

own revenue management or digital strategy team. We seamlessly provide that support. No one else in Hawai‘i was doing what we were doing with an all-inclusive approach to these services.” It was this idea that inspired the ambitious duo to found Lights On Digital in 2014. By bundling revenue management and digital strategy, they would be able to provide the support those hotels needed in a way that no one else could offer. In the few years since its founding, Ahler and Song’s company has become one of the state’s leading digital marketing agencies serving the hospitality industry. “Business took off quickly,” says Ahler, who now works with a team of 15 contractors, including revenue managers, data analysts, search engine marketers, designers, developers, content managers and copywriters. The company has doubled its client base in the past year and serves more than two dozen properties across Hawai‘i, the Western and Northeastern United States and the Caribbean. The results have been a game changer for clients of Lights On Digital. One of the company’s original clients, Hotel Wailea on Maui, sought to regain traction in an increasingly competitive Wailea resort market following a $15 million renovation to the property in



2013. Lights On Digital worked with Hotel Wailea to implement strategies that helped the business surpass key benchmarks and reach historic levels of revenue. Hotel Wailea is now the top travelerrated hotel on Maui, and this success isn’t an anomaly. Lights On Digital has consistently provided support and delivered strategies that create measurable results for its clients. Whether they’re tracking revenue, average daily rate or revenue per available room, Ahler’s unique approach has an undeniable impact on his clients’ business. “It boils down to building close relationships with clients,” Patrick says. “That and pairing an in-depth understanding of the hospitality industry with technological innovation, particularly in analytics and digital marketing.” Lights On Digital’s growing list of


awards, achievements and recognition is a testament to just how effective that approach has been. Several of the company’s website redesigns have won awards, including the prestigious Adrian Awards from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International in 2016, a Pele Award from the Hawai‘i chapter of the American Advertising Federation in 2017 and two Horizon Interactive Website Awards in 2016. Where will Lights On Digital go from here after seeing so much success right out of the gate? Ahler has big plans to expand further in Hawai‘i as well as the mainland United States. But they aren’t stopping there. “While Lights On Digital is grounded in the hospitality industry, we see potential for the growth of this model in other industries as

well,” Ahler says, hinting at some exciting new plans in the works. The recent signing of new clients, such as ABC Stores’ Dukes Lane Market & Eatery and the Napa River Inn in California, continues to open doors in this direction. As for the man driving the company’s growth, he will continue to make Hawai‘i his home. During Ahler’s 12 years in the islands, he has fallen in love with the lifestyle. “There is this incredible network of people that makes Hawai‘i an ideal place to innovate and do business,” Ahler says. Patrick came to Hawai‘i with little more than a dream and a gut feeling that it was where he needed to be. In just over a decade, he’s started a family and grown a successful company—who knows what he’ll accomplish during the next.


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ike so many things in Corey Campbell’s life, putting down roots in Hawai‘i wasn’t part of some grand plan. On a whim, he applied for a student exchange program with the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and spent his sophomore year here while pursuing a psychology degree from Virginia Tech. “It’s funny, psychology is one of hardest degrees to plug into a job unless you go into psychiatry, but I’ve found that it applies to every single thing I do,” Campbell says. “All training is is reading a person and understanding what would motivate them to change their behavior, and then attaching that to what you’re doing.” Campbell first fell into training during his years teaching English in Japan. While there, he picked up the Japanese language fairly well, a skill that helped him land a job as a guest services manager at the Sheraton Waikiki when he eventually returned to Hawai‘i for good. Putting his plans for medical school on the back burner, Campbell seized the opportunity to lead internal brand training for the company his second month on the job. He discovered that he loved training others and, what’s more, that he was good at it. Campbell took his newfound skillset with him when he went on to help open Rum Fire, where he managed daily operations and led employee workshops as its assistant manager. “Everyone should be forced to work in hospitality at some point in their life,” Campbell says. “It helps you bring a customer service approach to everything you do.” When The Royal Hawaiian reopened as part of the Luxury Collection, Campbell mined a new role there as a learning development manager, developing the training program that would later inspire him to found his company Akamai Training & Consulting. “I do a lot of empathy training,” Campbell says. “And it starts with identifying what real empathy is. People say to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, well that’s wrong. If I put myself in your



shoes, I’m still looking at the situation through my eyes.” “Everyone talks about the golden rule—treat others the way you want to be treated,” Campbell says. “But that assumes what you want is the same as what I want.” Real hospitality, he argues, is about making an earnest effect to get to know a person, learn how they tick, and ask the right questions to arrive at an understanding of what they want and how they want to be treated. Campbell’s leadership development training is one of three arms of his business, spanning everything from Myers-Briggs evaluations to executive retreats. “I spend a lot of time on culture,” Campbell says. “Culture is everything in an organization.” “Great leaders realize that water runs downhill,” Campbell says. “If your team isn’t performing as well as you’d like, the first place you should look is inside. What aren’t you doing to drive your team?” Even better, he says, take it a step further and just ask. Campbell is an advocate of the start-stop-continue approach to seeking feedback from employees. He instructs his trainees to ask


“Life is a product of your most dominant thoughts. So what story are you telling yourself? If you can’t change the situation, why not change the story?”


their staff to name one thing that drives them crazy that they wish you’d stop, one thing you’re not doing that they wish you’d start and one thing they love that you should continue to do to make their job easier. “When you ask people those questions,” Campbell says, “they tend to have an answer.” He also believes the difference between good leadership and great leadership comes down to intention. “What’s your reason for doing for doing what you do?” he says. “People can tell if you’re only in your current role to get promoted. Whatever job you’re in, approach it as if it’s the one you’re going to have for the rest of your life.” The other two arms of the business are executive coaching, where Campbell works one-on-one with people to help them achieve greater self-awareness and growth, and module training sessions that address specific areas, such as relationship building, team dynamics or emotional intelligence. Campbell’s training sessions are deliberately experiential


in nature, and they often force people out of their element. But Campbell says the frustration people feel during the exercises are key to their progress. “Anytime passion is involved, people start to listen.” Dissecting your approach to the exercises are another important part of the process. Campbell says there’s often a discrepancy between how a person thinks they behave, and how others know them to behave. “So I ask them, ‘What would others say?’” Campbell says. “In other words, ‘Are you certain you’re the coworker or employee you think you are?’” Campbell is adamant that the goal of his training programs aren’t just to make people better leaders and employees. He insists that when you improve yourself on a personal level, it will only impact your professional life for the better. “Life is a product of your most dominant thoughts,” Campbell says. “So what story are you telling yourself? If you can’t change the situation, why not change the story?”


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F L AVOR Island Sushi & Grill and Zenshin Asian Restaurant are one-stop shops for Hawai‘i eats in Vegas BY LAUREN MCNALLY




hen Chef Terence Fong first arrived in Las Vegas in 1979, it wasn’t to build a culture of local Hawai‘i food in the ninth island. A Kaiser High School grad born and raised in Hawai‘i, he set out to study hotel administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and found part-time work at Hibachi Hut—a mom-and-pop Japanese restaurant in the old Maryland Square shopping center across from The Boulevard mall. He was also working his way up at Caesars Palace and spent the next 15 years as a chef at the resort’s gourmet Bacchanal Room and famed Palace Court restaurant. It was there Fong began experimenting with Eurasian flavors, citing Honolulu chef Roy Yamaguchi as one of his influences. From there, he did a stint downtown as a sous chef at the award-winning French restaurant Andre’s, the only Michelin-starred standalone restaurant in all of Vegas. Fong went on to serve as executive chef at Gatsby’s at MGM Grand until 2000, when he signed on as a partner and executive chef at the Summerlin location for Osaka Japanese Restaurant. Later he served as culinary director at the Asian fusion restaurant Malibu Chan’s and as executive chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois restaurant at the Forum Shops at Caesars. Diving into food and beverage consulting in 2008, Fong fell into a bakery operation making malassadas and bagel chips for the California Hotel & Casino and



ended up renting a retail front inside Island Sushi on Eastern Avenue, where the business took off. For good reason—the malassadas are perfection. Crispy on the outside, soft and airy on the inside, these aren’t the kind of malassadas that deflate when you bite into them or taste artificial when you hit their custard-filled center. The wholesale operation now makes nearly 6,400 malassadas a month, 5,600 of which are fried, sugared and shipped frozen to the Big Island for distribution at the isle’s seven 7-11 retail stores. Is there anybody else who makes malassadas in Vegas? “A lot of people try to,” says Fong’s son, Danial, who heads up marketing and HR operations at both Island Sushi & Grill and Fong’s other restaurant venture, Zenshin Asian Restaurant, inside South Point Hotel & Casino. “We’re always tweaking the recipe to make it better.’’ Fong was called back to Caesars Palace to work as executive chef at Hyakumi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar for a short time before deciding to buy out Island Sushi’s previous owner in 2009. Two weeks in, he kicked off the restaurant’s very first Sunday brunch. “It’s one of our busiest days now,” Fong says. With 67 seats on the sushi side of the restaurant and 20 seats for guests dining on menu items off the grill, Island Sushi & Grill still has the look and feel of a small mom-and-pop shop even though it brings in six times more sales today than it did before Fong got involved. The poke counter is a major draw for Hawai‘i transplants looking to order by the pound and take it to go, but it’s the plate lunch and all-you-can-eat sushi that brings the restaurant its most robust following. “A lot of our locals love it for when they have guests in town,” Fong says. “They don’t have to worry about somebody ordering lobster a la carte.” It isn’t a typical serve-yourself buffet line, either—the sushi is made fresh to order and delivered to the table. No surprise, Island Sushi & Grill is popular among kama‘aina who have relocated to the ninth island and brought with them a hankering for old favorites like plate lunch, poke and sushi. “Everybody comes in because they want to chit chat with everybody and talk story and have their coffee,” Fong says. “It’s just like back home.” But the restaurant also gets Vegas natives and visitors who have never had a real Hawaiian plate lunch before. Between the sushi, plate lunches,


bentos and malassadas, the restaurant is a one-stop shop for the whole Hawai‘i dining experience. “Minus the ocean,” Danial laughs. Island Sushi & Grill operated out of a second location at the Plaza Hotel & Casino between 2011 and 2013, after which the opportunity presented itself to spearhead a new restaurant opening at the South Point Hotel & Casino that same year. Fong’s name came up along with a number of other Las Vegas chefs, and after a series of interviews and tastings, he was selected as a frontrunner for the new eatery. But first, Fong had to meet with South Point owner Michael Gaughan, a casino mogul who owns and operates several properties throughout Las Vegas. “Mr. Gaughan, I want to thank you,” Fong said. “From my family to yours.” Turns out Gaughan was no stranger to the Fong family. “What do you mean?” Gaughan asked. Fong explained that his father ran one of the travel agencies that brought groups from Hawai‘i to Las Vegas more than 50 years ago. Among the hotels the agency worked with was the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino, which Gaughan built and operated before merging his Coast Casinos brand with Boyd Gaming in 2004. “Who’s your father?” Gaughan asked. “Herman Fong,” he replied. “Herman was your father?” Gaughan asked before shaking Fong’s hand. “You got the job.” “That was it,” Fong laughs. “With a firm handshake, he said, ‘You’re in.’ It was very old school.” Having brought several of his employees over from the shuttered Island Sushi & Grill location at the Plaza, Fong reports that nearly half of the staff at Zenshin Asian Restaurant are from Hawai‘i—in fact, they cover all four major islands. “We call them our ‘ohana,” Danial says. After all, the restaurants are a family endeavor. Besides Danial—who sounds like he could have grown up in Hawai‘i, probably from his years talking story with the clientele at Island Sushi—Fong’s older sister, Radine, is also in on the family business. She managed the kitchen at Island Sushi’s Plaza location before it closed down and subsequently moved over to the Eastern Avenue location, where she still


(From left) Director of Sales & Marketing Danial Fong, Corporate Chef Yoji Shimonishi, Chef/owner Terence Fong, Director of Operation Steve Kim

works today. Fong’s daughter, Stefani, worked as a baker, server and then as a manager at the Plaza location and later the restaurant’s flagship before moving on to find her own way. “I’ve come and gone, too,” Danial says, “But now I’m back for good. It’s home.” Rolling over the concept from Island Sushi, Zenshin features Japanese fusion cuisine with influences from Chinese and other Asian cuisines. The centerpiece in the restaurant’s casual yet elegant setting is a large sushi bar and full liquor bar that seats up to 25 people. Large, comfortable booths and a few smaller tables round out the restaurant’s main dining area. To the right, a secluded private dining room seats 15 at a large granite table suitable for meetings and wine dinners alike. An adjacent room on the left seats up to 100 for events, parties and banquets. Sushi is a mainstay—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—but the menu also includes ramen, hibachi salmon, braised beef short rib and trendy items like sushi burritos. Zenshin’s twicedaily happy hour draws quite the following, and both Zenshin and Island Sushi & Grill are known for their oxtail soup, a Hawai‘i staple. The ramen and poke craze that’s been growing like wildfire on the mainland hasn’t found quite the same footing in Vegas that it has in places like Los Angeles, but Fong is optimistic. While many of the poke ventures that have opened in Vegas over the last few years are already closing shop, Zenshin and Island Sushi show no signs of slowing down. The city is growing at light speed, especially with an NFL team, professional hockey team and potentially a professional soccer team in the pipeline. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that Nevada’s population will double in size by 2030, and with basketball season coming in August, bringing hordes of visitors to the South Point from Hawai‘i and Southern California, Zenshin Asian Restaurant is sure to reach even more of its target demographic. Now 56 with two granddaughters occupying his time, Fong is eventually looking to pass the torch ISLAND SUSHI & GRILL to Danial and Zenshin Corporate 9400 S. Eastern Ave. Ste. 102–103 Chef Yoji Shimonishi. “I worked a lot as a single parent,” Fong says. “I had to get a nanny to help out with my son and daughter. So now I want to try to be there not only for them but for their kids.” But he won’t be relinquishing his title for several years. “And it won’t stop me from trying to launch other projects,” Fong says. Sounds like Hawai‘i transplants have something to look forward to.

Sushi: Open daily 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Grill: Open daily 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Poke Shack: Open daily 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

ZENSHIN ASIAN RESTAURANT 9777 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Open daily 2 p.m.–6 p.m. Sunday–Thursday 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday–Saturday 11 a.m.–1 a.m.


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CONNECTIONS Dîner en Blanc More than 1,600 guests attended Honolulu’s fourth annual Dîner en Blanc on Saturday, September 9. Attendees dressed in all white and packed a gourmet feast, tables, chairs and table settings for the pop-up dinner party at Kualoa Ranch. For full details on the event or to get on the waitlist for 2018, visit honolulu. Photos: Liz Barney

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Hawaii Bridal Expo The Hawaii Bridal Expo returned to the exhibition at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in July. Presented by Brides Club, the biannual expo showcases dozens of Hawai‘i’s top wedding and event vendors, from party planners and bridal consultants to caterers, photographers and floral designers. Photos: Dave Livingston

Goodwill Goes GLAM! presented by Bank of Hawaii Foundation Goodwill Goes GLAM! took over the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall from July 21 to July 23. New this year, the once-a-year bargain hunter’s paradise featured food trucks, live entertainment and daily shopping spree giveaways, kicking off with an “Art of Fashion”-themed runway show produced by artist, designer and business owner Kaypee Soh. Photos: Goodwill Hawaii



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CONNECTIONS The Kahala Hotel & Resort Hawaii Invitational of Polo 2017 Hawai‘i catapulted onto the international stage during the Hawaii Invitational of Polo, a world-class sporting event held every year at the Waimanalo Polo Fields. The fourday celebration of Hawai‘i’s rich paniolo culture featured high-level competition, live entertainment and the best of the best in local gastronomy, spirits and more. Photos: Cecil Davis

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Coral Crater Adventure park brings action to West O‘ahu



n the thick overgrowth of a former coral quarry in Kalaeloa, Jim Owen saw an opportunity. After the U.S. Navy mined materials there for the construction of several runways at Barbers Point, the remaining 10-acre crater and surrounding area sat largely unused for decades. Owen first visited the quarry more than six years ago, seeing the potential for new activities, dozens of jobs and a multifaceted gathering place in West O‘ahu. As a 10-year hospitality industry veteran, he had watched the popularity of adventure parks skyrocket across the U.S. mainland but found nothing similar in Hawai‘i. The more than 50-foot drop of the crater was ideal for building a six-line tandem zipline course; the large crater floor and sloping walls would allow for a full mile of rugged ATV track; the surrounding area could transform into a 6,000-square-foot landscaped gathering place. In January, Coral Crater Adventure Park opened with 35 acres of activities, a large and easily accessible observation deck, barbeque space and ample parking—all built with the objective of minimizing the project’s environmental impact. “We spent years designing Coral Crater Adventure Park to be enjoyable for the widest possible range of ages and activity levels while respecting our communities and natural environment,” Owen says. “Our equipment is state of the art and our staff are highly trained, ensuring the safety of guests while providing a memorable experience unlike any other in Hawai‘i.” The park can accommodate several hundred people a day, but its spacious, multilevel layout ensures that it never feels crowded. Owen has also developed a lineup of fresh experiences to keep guests coming back, including night ziplining, tactical live-action laser tag and teambuilding activities at the Aerial Adventure Tower, which features 18 challenge elements such as climbing, swinging and jumping. Packages start at $99.99 for four activities, with a la carte experiences starting at $19.99. Group and special event packages are available in addition to services such as lockers and round-trip shuttle transportation from Waikiki.





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