Fairmont Kea Lani cultural expert Jonelle Kamai takes guests on walking tours around the Maui luxury resort. // © 2014 The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
While many Hawaii hotels offer clients a taste of the local culture, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui strives to embody it.
“The ohana (family) at The Fairmont Kea Lani is committed to offering authentic, educational experiences that connect guests to Hawaii’s unique customs, history, language and cuisine,” said hotel spokesperson Megan Hardesty. “It is our kuleana (responsibility) to help preserve and perpetuate the culture.”
Kea Lani develops its cultural programming from the inside out, Hardesty said.
“Each employee receives training in Hawaiian history, culture and hookipa (hospitality),” she said. “This way, when guests feel our aloha spirit, it isn’t scripted or rehearsed.”
The resort launched free Hawaiian outrigger canoe experiences for guests in 2002. Since then, it has steadily added complimentary programs led by cultural expert Jonelle Kamai, whose weekly offerings include historical walking tours and Hawaiian language classes.
During busier months, the hotel presents free lei making, ukulele and hula lessons, plus stargazing and talks about local legends. Prior to arrival, Kea Lani can customize itineraries for guests looking for off-property cultural activities.
Each month, Kea Lani hosts day-long events showcasing aspects of Hawaiian culture and history. On Oct. 10, for instance, its ukulele festival will feature music lessons and performances. On Nov. 7, it will honor the traditional Makahiki celebration with games, crafts, dance and a sushi-making contest.
As visitors benefit from Kea Lani’s efforts, residents are endorsing them as well. Case in point: Maui News readers recently voted it the island’s best Hawaiian cultural program.