Mauna Lani Resort Keeps It Hawaii

Hawaii Tourism Authority presents the resort-coveted Kahili Award

By: Dawna Robertson

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has awarded Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows a Kahili Award for its programs dedicated to educating visitors and residents about Hawaii’s history, culture and values. HTA also awarded a Certificate of Merit to Danny “Kaniela” Akaka, Jr., Mauna Lani Resort’s Director of Cultural Affairs.

“It is humbling to be honored for Mauna Lani’s ongoing preser-vation of Kalahuipuaa and Hawaii,” said Akaka. “The Keep it Hawaii Awards recognize Mauna Lani’s continued efforts to create a lasting memory for every visitor and kamaaina through programs that showcase Hawaii’s history, flora, fauna, sea life and culture.”

Kahili nods also indicate special cultural opportunities for visitors to enjoy. Here’s an overview of the property’s award-winning cultural programs.

Mauna Lani recently hosted its second Ke Kumu O Mauna Lani healing and spiritual retreat a four-day cultural journey that explores traditional and contemporary Hawaiian healing and renewal philosophies in a casual “talk story” format. Those attending enjoy a rare opportunity to learn how kupuna (elders) and international lifestyle experts are influencing the concept of health and wellness with their notion of lokahi (harmony of mind, body and spirit).

Every Fourth of July, Mauna Lani celebrates its Turtle Independence Day commitment to raising awareness about honu a threatened species of green sea turtles found in the Hawaiian Islands. Since the program’s inception in 1989, the resort has nurtured more than 120 juvenile honu from Oahu’s Sea Life Park and raised them in the saltwater ponds at Mauna Lani.

The honu are cared for until they grow to a size and weight deemed appropriate for release into the wild. During the annual Turtle Independence Day, these celebrated creatures are paraded to the ocean while hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers bid aloha to the flippered friends who have called Mauna Lani home for the previous months.

Shortly after opening in 1983, Mauna Lani created historic tours for those fascinated by the significance of Kalahuipuaa the center of Hawaii’s five great volcanoes and the area where the resort is located. Akaka has guided over 20,000 people on these tours over the past 22 years, educating them on the area and culture within the vision of Mauna Lani. Guests are able to experience nearby lava tubes and shelter caves used by ancient Hawaiians, areas with petroglyphs, and rare and unique plants and trees situated throughout the property.