A Souvenir Experience

Starwood shines with lessons in Hawaiian history and culture

By: Dawna L. Robertson

Instead of taking home a plastic dashboard hula girl or silk flower lei as souvenir gifts from a Hawaiian getaway, visitors can plan on presenting a fresh flower lei or graceful hula dance from their heart.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii offer new and unique cultural activities allowing visitors to experience a few of Hawaii’s special traditions instead of merely observing them.

According to Cheryl Williams, regional vice president of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii and French Polynesia, providing guests the richest experience of Hawaii is a very important goal for the company.

“Many of our properties have a long history and presence here in the Islands, and really have helped shape Hawaii as a premier travel destination,” Williams remarked. “We want to share the history and culture of the Islands with visitors and have them take that experience home with them. That’s what makes a trip truly memorable.”

In order to maximize the guest experience, select Starwood cultural offerings are extended exclusively to those staying at the property. “We welcome visitors and residents alike to enjoy those events open to the public, such as our nightly cliff diving ceremony at Sheraton Maui Resort, free historical tours in Waikiki or the Flavors of Island Music,” added Williams. “These talented musicians play at all eleven properties throughout Hawaii on a daily basis.”

Walk This Way: Waikiki Historical Tours
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel sits on the site of the former summer home of Queen Kaahumanu. The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is situated on the former entrance to Ainahau estate, the girlhood home of Hawaii’s beloved princess. The Sheraton Moana Surfrider, “The First Lady of Waikiki,” also holds her place in Hawaii’s history as the area’s first luxury hotel built in 1901.

All three properties provide complimentary historical walking tours that reveal interesting facts about the historic grounds, the hotels and their place in Hawaii’s history.

Sharing Hula and Aloha: Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa Adopts a Hula Halau
In its effort to share the rich culture and history of Hawaii, Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa has “adopted” a hula school Halau Kalaakeakauikawekiu. Guests are welcomed to watch keiki (children) and adults work diligently with their kumu (teacher) to perfect intricate hand and foot movements expressing the art of hula.

Ladies practice Saturday mornings from 8-10 a.m., while keiki four to 12 years rehearse from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Keiki return each Wednesday afternoon from 2:30-5 p.m. and ladies from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Rehearsals are held outdoors on the Hawaii or Bayside Lawns.

The Remains of the Day: Princeville Resort’s History and Garden Tour
Princeville Resort’s new 45-minute tour begins at a scenic promontory overlooking quiet Hanalei Bay and ends in the hotel lobby where a fine collection of European antiques and furniture are highlighted. The Princeville History & Garden Tour is offered on Fridays at 12:30 p.m. in summer and winter seasons.

Sheraton Maui Resort’s Sunset Cliff Diving Ceremony
In reverence to the sport, the legend behind it and the royalty who took part in it, Sheraton Maui Resort continues a 40-year-old ritual with a nightly cliff diving ceremony. Each evening at sunset, a young warrior dressed in traditional loincloth lights torches along his path to the cliff as the story of Black Rock is told. At the cliff’s edge, he commences with the ceremonial offering of the torch and his flower lei before leaping 30 feet into the ocean.

Starwood Hawaii’s Flavors of Island Music
Music is another way for travelers to experience a destination’s culture and people. With over 200 talented local artists performing at all eleven Starwood Hawaii properties on a daily basis, guests can experience the beauty of each property set to the melodies of Hawaii’s finest artists. In addition, Starwood Hawaii supports and creates various events throughout Hawaii that perpetuate the diverse styles of Island music. Check Starwood’s web site for a schedule.