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Throughout this year, the Kauai Marriott will be repositioning
its approach to guest services by launching what Countryman calls
the Epic Hawaiian Experience program.
“We want to share a deeper meaning behind each activity,” he
said. “For instance, most every hotel offers lei-making classes.
But when our guests take part in lei-making, we want them to learn
the meaning behind each strand, the etiquette of stringing a lei
and the lei materials specific to Kauai. Eventually we hope to
start the classes by taking clients into the garden where they can
even pick their own flowers.”
As it strives to immerse its guests in the Hawaiian culture, the
Kauai Marriott has established itself as the host hotel for Halau
Rohotu, a hula troupe that calls the resort its practice studio.
Far from polished shows, the group’s free, open-to-the-public hula
sessions give clients a firsthand behind-the-scenes look at the
discipline and art involved in learning the sacred Hawaiian dance,
which helps them take hula more seriously.
Another innovative Kauai Marriott program focuses on the rare
Niihau shell, prized for its gem-like appearance. Harvested on the
private island of Niihau, the shells hold great meaning to
Hawaiians. For $15 per person, clients learn how to turn the tiny
shells into fashionable earrings, which normally command top dollar
at retail stores.
Plenty of hotels designate a time when guests can feed the
colorful koi that swim in their ponds. Countryman, however, wants
to be able to invite youngsters to actually wade among his hotel’s
1,500 colorful creatures during the event, creating splashy photo
opportunities and cementing island memories. This program will
begin in the next few months, he said.
The east Kauai hotel has received the go-ahead to host a
farmer’s market in one of its parking lots, which will bring guests
and residents face to face over local produce, herbs, arts, crafts,
flowers, plants and homemade foods. And, the property recently
started its Hawaii Word of the Day program at the concierge
While guests partake in these epic Hawaiian experiences, the
hotel’s employees are getting their own immersion course. Acclaimed
cultural expert Ramsay Taum has created a sense-of-place training
program to make sure staff members embody the authentic spirit of
“Ramsay effectively works with Hawaii’s development, travel,
leisure and retail industries, where he integrates native Hawaiian
cultural values and principles into the contemporary business
setting,” said Countryman.
It’s fitting that the Kauai Marriott would create extraordinary
guest experiences, because the 356-room, 52-acre resort is an epic
in its own right. Its swimming pool one of Hawaii’s largest boasts
26,000 square feet of water surface and 1 million tiles. For
groups, the hotel features more than 80,000 square feet of meeting
space, including the 16,500-square-foot Kauai Ballroom the largest
on the island and more than 60,000 square feet of tropical gardens
and beachside grounds for outdoor functions. And, it’s the only
hotel with its own private drive between Lihue Airport and the
For the bride- and groom-to-be, the Kauai Marriott recently
unveiled its Wailele Terrace, a new outdoor chapel on the top of a
hill. Rising above waterfalls and ponds, the 950-square-foot venue
is reached by a lava staircase and flagstone path. A sprawling
banyan tree embraces couples as they exchange their vows. Wailele
Terrace accommodates up to 60 people for receptions and 50 guests
for banquet dinners.
A sense of place permeates the Kauai Marriott in a number of
ways. Kukui’s Restaurant is displaying a new Hawaiian sea salt
station on its buffet. Hotel guests can start their mornings with
Kauai coffee, and they can drink Kauai Springs Water out of
environmentally friendly bottles. In the spirit of aloha, employees
pass fresh tropical fruit around the pool twice daily, and a lei
hostess sells a variety of aromatic strands to the resort’s guests
when they’re ready to celebrate another epic moment in Hawaii.
Nightly Rates for 2008: Rooms from $359-$524, suites
Through Dec. 20, clients can book the Hawaiian Sand Dollars
package providing daily breakfast for two and the fifth night free
Commission: 10 percent