This issue’s cover story, commemorating the 50th anniversary of statehood for both Hawaii and Alaska (page 10), is one I’m especially glad we decided to take on. For one thing, it’s rare to have two Western states celebrating a major event at the same time and, as the voice of the travel industry in the West, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to acknowledge this milestone happening in our own backyard. TravelAge West is the only travel trade magazine with an editor based in Alaska, Christopher Batin, and one of the few with a dedicated Hawaii editor, Marty Wentzel. Between them, Batin and Wentzel have over 60 years of experience covering these important travel destinations.
I visited Hawaii for the first time just a few years after it became a state and, while I was too young to remember much from that trip, it became a fond memory my family shared for years afterward. My father, an avid gardener, would talk about the exotic tropical flowers he saw for the first time in Hawaii as if they were something he had seen in a dream. After he died, I found brochures and flower catalogs among his things from that trip so many years earlier. The beauty of the islands clearly had made a lasting impression on him.
I didn’t visit Alaska until many years later but, in one of my earlier jobs in publishing, I worked for a magazine that specialized in hunting and fishing and, of course, Alaska was one of our readers’ favorite destinations. As I sat in my office cubicle, reading story after story of exciting adventures in The Great Land, I daydreamed about one day making it there myself. Years later, as I was fly-fishing on a salmon-choked Alaskan stream during a cold drizzle, I couldn’t help smiling — I finally had my own Alaska moment.
Truly great destinations aren’t about new resorts, slick branding campaigns or elaborate attractions, they’re about emotion. Over the last 50 years, Hawaii and Alaska have become iconic destinations thanks to their abilities to stir the imagination and touch the hearts of visitors. I expect nothing less in the next 50 years. — K.S.