Hawaii Today edited by Derek Paiva Page: 1 2 3 Next>>
Ohana_Waikiki_room_dealsHere's a deal for traveler’s seeking an affordable vacation on Oahu this summer, or a reasonably priced Waikiki escape right now.

Ohana Hotels & Resorts is offering seriously low room rates at four of its Waikiki properties all summer, and through the fall. Nightly rates start at $79 at Ohana’s Waikiki West, $89 at the Waikiki Malia, $97 at the Waikiki East and $119 at the Waikiki Beachcomber.

We’re not talking Waikiki beachfront properties here. But each Ohana property is conveniently enough located in Waikiki to offer a good home base for Oahu exploring. A number of free amenities are also included in the deal, such as wireless Internet, long-distance phone service, and transportation around Waikiki and to Ala Moana Center aboard the Waikiki Trolley.

Ohana’s offer is good for reservations made through December 21, 2009. For more information on the deal at each property, click here or call (866) 968-8744.

Photo of Waikiki Beachcomber: Ohana Hotels & Resorts


Lyman_Museum_photos_HawaiiThe photos you see here nearly wound up in a Honolulu landfill.

Along with 800 other turn-of-the-20th-century glass plate photos of the Kingdom of Hawaii taken by Bertram Gabriel Bellinghausen, they were marked for trash collectors by a Honolulu private school in 1964 before someone wisely saved them.

Bellinghausen was a young Marianist brother from Dayton, Ohio, who arrived in Honolulu in 1883 to work with the Catholic Mission. On his journeys throughout the Islands over the next 22 years, he combined a boundless interest in the cultures he saw with a passion for capturing it all with the emerging art of photography.

Brother Bertram’s photos from his Big Island of Hawaii travels are the subject of “Na Pa‘i Ki‘i ‘O Brother Bertram, Photographs of the Kingdom of Hawaii, 1883 to 1905” on display through October at Hilo town’s Lyman Museum. The collection offers a fascinating, rarely seen glimpse of the architecture, people and lifestyle of urban and rural Hawaii during the era.

Brother Bertram’s photos are historically important, as well—a one-of-a-kind record of a period when the merging of Hawaiian and Western cultures was accelerating.

Lyman_Museum_photos_Hawaii“Many of these photos were not presented to the public in Hawaii until 2005,” says Lyman Museum executive director Dolly Strazer. “We are fascinated with Brother Bertram’s ability to capture nature, witness a family’s special moment or record a historic moment. Many of Brother Bertram’s photos are, simply put, magical.”

The rest of the Lyman Museum and Mission House are on their own worth a visit. The mission house—originally built in 1839 for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman—is the oldest intact frame building on the Big Island. Restored to give a sense of missionary life in the mid-1800s, the house—near downtown Hilo—is filled with the original furnishings and household items of the era. The neighboring Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum features extensive collections and exhibitions touching on the natural history and culture of Hawaii.

Having taken many a school field trip to the museum and mission house as a kid growing up in Hilo, I can vouch that the Lyman Museum is a definite "must-see" on your next Hilo visit.

Entry for the entire museum (including the Bertram exhibit) is a very reasonable $10 for adults, and $3 for ages 6 to 17. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Click here for more information, or call (808) 935-5021.

Bertram images of Hilo grass house (top) and Wailuku River homes, courtesy of Lyman Museum

Kauai_Princeville_Resort_rebrands_as_St_RegisThese days the old Princeville Resort looks more like a construction site than a luxe-lodging establishment. The $40 million overhaul—which began last October—is part of the recent rebranding of the Kauai resort as the St. Regis Princeville Resort.

The St. Regis brand is a luxury offshoot of worldwide hotelier Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Princeville's management company.

The revamped resort will be the only St. Regis property in Hawaii. The developers are trying to integrate the elegance of the high-end luxury chain with the resort’s island surroundings. 

According to the resort’s Facebook page (yes, even luxury resorts have Facebook pages), the redesign is guided by the Hawaiian concept of ahupuaa—or what St. Regis is describing as "living in balance with nature." (The word ahupuaa actually describes a Hawaiian land division system that extended from the ocean to the mountain. The bounty of that land, however, often depended on living in balance with nature.) Consequently, the resort will incorporate natural island elements of sea, sky and earth.

The resort’s main lobby and common areas will feature native dark wood floors, ceilings of woven matting and large glass panels overlooking the ocean. The resort’s 252 guest rooms and its 51 suites will have contemporary Hawaiian décor, custom furnishings and large, electronically controlled glass reveals.

Four new restaurants will open, anchored by the first Jean-George Vongerichten restaurant in Hawaii. The eatery will place a strong emphasis on ingredients farmed or produced on Kauai. Vongerichten’s other restaurants include the well-received Perry St. and the Michelin-three star-recipient Jean-Georges in New York.
Among the other additions to the resort: several boutique shops and the 10,000-square foot Halele'a Spa offering a 24-hour fitness center and treatments that use indigenous fruit and flora.

To celebrate its debut, the resort is offering the Quintessential Princeville Experience. The deal includes your choice of complimentary activity for two with a five night minimum stay. Choose either two rounds of golf at the Prince Golf Course, an hour-long spa treatment at Halele’a Spa, an adventure package at Princeville Ranch or dinner at Makana Terrace restaurant.

The St. Regis Princeville Resort is set to debut September 19, with an official grand opening celebration scheduled for October 1.

Reservations are being taken for travel dates beginning at October 1. For more information, call (808) 826-9644 or click here.

Photos: St. Regis Princeville Resort

Norah_Jones_Hawaii_Writers_ConferenceThe Maui Writers Conference is now the Hawaii Writers Conference, and it’s bringing in Norah Jones for a private concert.

Don’t worry. The annual week-long conference will still host its usual handful of New York Times bestselling authors, Academy Award-winning screenwriters and big time agents, editors and publishers, too. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jones will be on hand to headline the conference’s first Writers Block Party fundraiser on September 4, 2009, at the Sheraton Waikiki.

The Hawaii Writers Conference is anchoring all events—except for Ms. Jones’s concert—at the newly renovated and reopened Royal Hawaiian hotel, from Sept. 4 to 7. It also adopts the more fitting "Hawaii Writers Conference" as its new name, abandoning the oddball “Maui Writers Conference On the Road” moniker it took last year.

Launched in 1993 at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, the Maui Writers Conference took up residence at the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa and Wailea Marriott before moving to Oahu last year hoping to increase attendance. The move and name change appear permanent.

Self-billed as the world’s largest writer’s conference—with more than 1,000 attendees annually—the event’s biggest draw for aspiring authors and screenwriters has generally been the opportunity to meet and consult with some of the industry’s biggest names.

Well-known authors and screenwriters, agents, editors and publishers often present the conference’s schedule of writer workshops, panel presentations and keynote lectures. Past guest presenters at the conference have included Carl Bernstein, Frank McCourt, Ron Howard, Carrie Fisher and Aaron Sorkin.

This year’s list of presenters looks promising, as well: Mitch Albom (author, Tuesdays with Morrie), Gregory Maguire (author, Wicked), Jaquelyn Mitchard (author, The Deep End of the Ocean), Diana Ossana (screenwriter, Brokeback Mountain), Michael Arndt (screenwriter, Little Miss Sunshine), to name a few.

Proceeds raised from the Writers Block Party with Norah Jones will benefit the Hawaii Writers Foundation, which is the HWC's founding organization, and its young writers scholarship program. The party's dinner menu will be designed and guided by Hawaii chef, restaurateur and best-selling cookbook writer Roy Yamaguchi.

For a full list of Hawaii Writers Conference presenters, scheduled events, registration and more information on the Writers Block Party with Norah Jones, click here.

Photo: Danny Clinch/Blue Note Records

UPDATE, 9/1/2009: The Norah Jones concert fundraiser, originally scheduled for Sept. 4, was canceled today. The Hawaii Writers Conference is still set for Sept. 4-7.

Hawaii_beach_HanaleiFor the second year in a row, two Hawaii beaches made Dr. Steven P. Leatherman’s—a.k.a. Dr. Beach’s—list of America’s Best Beaches. And one of them is no. 1: Hanalei Beach on the north shore of Kauai, which moves up from no. 2 last year.

Hamoa Beach, on Maui’s lush and remote east side near Hana, moves up to no. 5; it was no. 7 in 2008.

Good national publicity for Hawaii and two of its best beaches? Yes.

Another list in a collection of increasingly flawed Dr. Beach rankings? Oh, yes.

Here's why we're not completely buying the doc's diagnosis:

Dig deep into Dr. Beach's research methodology and you'll find that once a beach claims the list's no. 1 spot, it is excluded from all future lists. With Hanalei Beach now at the top, Hawaii has taken the no. 1 spot on Dr. Beach’s list 12 times in the list’s 18-year-history:

• 2006: Fleming Beach Park (Maui)
• 2004: Hanauma Bay (Oahu)
• 2003: Kaanapali Beach (Maui)
• 2001: Poipu Beach Park (Kauai)
• 2000: Mauna Kea Beach (Big Island)
• 1999 Wailea Beach (Maui)
• 1998 Kailua Beach Park (Oahu)
• 1997 Hulopoe, Hawaii (Lanai)
• 1996 Lanikai Beach (Oahu)
• 1993 Hapuna (Big Island)
• 1991 Kapalua Bay Beach (Maui)

Hawaii_beach_HanaleiAll are fine Hawaii beaches worthy of the top spot.

But because they made the top spot, each is now ineligible for inclusion on future Dr. Beach lists.

The result of these exclusions, of course, is an annual America's Best Beaches list that grows more irrelevant and inaccurate with each passing year.

Hanalei and Hamoa were the only two Hawaii beaches included on Dr. Beach’s Top 10 list last year, as well. Does that mean the doc’s running out of Hawaii beaches eligible for the list? Will Hamoa be the only Hawaii beach on the 2010 list?

We’re happy Hanalei was recognized as one of the best beaches in the U.S.—its two-mile crescent of white sand cradling Hanalei Bay is truly one of the most beautiful in the state.

Still, we think the tide is quickly going out on Dr. Beach’s America’s Best Beaches list. What's your opinion?

Photos: Hanalei Beach (top), Hamoa Beach


Lantern Floating Hawaii a Memorial Day tradition

Lantern_Floating_Hawaii_traditionMonday evening marks the return of the annual Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony—one of Hawaii’s most visually breathtaking and poignant events.

We attended last year’s event, at Honolulu's Ala Moana Beach Park—along with 40,000 Hawaii residents and visitors. As you can see below in a slideshow of photos we took, the sunset ceremony is a sight to behold.

Lantern Floating Hawaii is based on Toro Nagashi—a Japanese ceremony started by the Shinnyo-en Buddhist order in 1952, and traditionally held in July and August to mark the end of Obon festival season. Translated literally, the words toro nagashi mean "lantern offerings on water." 

Hawaii’s Shinnyo-en order holds its ceremony annually on Memorial Day to honor lives lost in war, and to remember departed loved ones. There are prayers for a future filled with peace and harmony.

Participants write the names of the deceased and messages of comfort on paper lanterns, which are then set adrift onto the open ocean. This year more than 2,000 candle-lit lanterns will be released from Ala Moana Beach.
A limited number of lanterns will be available to the public beginning at 1 p.m. Monday. Go early, as the lanterns usually run out fast. But attend even if you are not launching a lantern.

While the ceremony is Buddhist in origin, Hawaii’s version reflects the Islands’ diverse collection of faiths and backgrounds. Previous ceremonies have featured everything from Hawaiian chant and hula to Japanese Taiko drumming. This year’s 10th anniversary lineup includes diverse mix of acts including members of the Honolulu Symphony, R&B singer Christina Souza, Halau Hula Olana and German trumpeter Matthias Höfs.

Free parking is available at the Hawai‘i Convention Center beginning at 9 a.m. with free roundtrip shuttle and handicap bus service beginning at 4 p.m. The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m., is free and is open to the public.

For more information on Lantern Floating Hawaii, click here.

Can’t make it Monday evening? Local television station KGMB9 will be streaming the ceremony live on the Web here.

Photos: Dawn Sakamoto and Derek Paiva

Click on slideshow frame to enlarge photos.

Samantha_Brown_HawaiiLondon. Paris. San Francisco. Florence. Austin. The Big Island of Hawaii.

The latest episode of Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends—airing Saturday at 10 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific), 7 p.m. (Hawaii)—is showcasing as much of the Big Island of Hawaii's charms as its über-cheerful, ever-game host could squeeze into one hour of television, and three days of traveling last fall.

Among Brown’s adventures on my former home island: a helicopter tour of Kilauea Volcano's eruptive activity, a visit to a green sea turtle nursery at South Kohala’s Mauna Lani Resort, a beachside luau at the Kona Village Resort, hula and lei making lessons at the Sheraton Keauhou, a trip to the summit of Mauna Kea with Hawaii Forest & Trail, and some java bean harvesting at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

Not quite the gripping drama that accompanied last year’s Maui-filmed Jon & Kate Plus 8 wedding vow renewal show, perhaps. But a lot more Hawaii scenery getting screen time, for sure. And Brown's bound to be smiling a lot more than Jon was.

One small gripe about Brown's itinerary: A good chunk of the east and north sides of the Big Island (Hilo, Hamakua Coast, Waimea, etc.) seems to have been left out of her schedule. I get it. She only had a weekend, and her destination isn't called the BIG Island for nothing. But still.

Samantha_Brown_HawaiiFrankly, I was surprised it took two seasons for Brown to bring her Great Weekends crew to the Islands. The self-described “travel goddess” was awarded her first taste of Travel Channel-style fame hosting the network’s 2000-2001 series Girl Meets Hawaii, where she essentially traveled the Islands looking for cool stuff to do—even hanging with the late Don Ho.

She’s still doing the same kind of stuff for Great Weekends that the staff of HAWAII typically does before breakfast. Only with a camera crew, and millions of Travel Channel viewers in tow.

Yeah. I'm jealous. Perhaps she’ll give us a call the next time she's here.

Pictured: Samantha Brown with the fruit of her bean-picking labor (top) and goofing with Big Island residents Michelle Sakata Johnson and son Kenji Johnson in the coffee fields. Photos courtesy of Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

Waikiki_International_Market_PlaceYou ask. We answer.

HAWAII Magazine reader Patricia Renze from New York, NY, writes:

What’s the status of the International Market Place renovations in Waikiki? I have spent many a happy day walking around and talking with all of the vendors. I hope the project has been shelved, as I love the Market Place just the way it is.

Well, Patricia, you’ll be happy to know that Waikiki’s International Market Place is staying the same. For now at least.

A $150 million overhaul of the 4.5 acre banyan-tree-shaded property in the heart of Waikiki has been postponed indefinitely, say Market Place officials. Development plans will be revisited sometime after 2010, but there’s no certainty of what will become of the open-air bazaar.

The planned redevelopment of the property has sparked protest from residents and visitors. A revitalized market place would come at the expense of the dozens of small retail booths that sell all manner of mostly foreign-made Hawaii tchotchkes—from plastic tiki statues and discount aloha wear to writhing hula girl lamps and wood carvings.

The International Market Place has been a Waikiki attraction for decades. Restaurateur Donn Beach—owner of the now long-gone Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain—once famously perched his office in the sturdy branches of the market place's massive banyan tree.

Since the International Market Place's 1957 opening, there have been no major renovations to the property. The newest building on the property was erected in 1970. But property developers have coveted the shopping district’s central Waikiki location for almost as many years as the Market Place has been open.
Landowner Queen Emma Foundation’s latest plan for site—originally slated for a 2005 start—called for razing most of Market Place’s familiar tropical facade, making way for more upscale shops and restaurants, a storytelling center and an entertainment pavilion. Construction delays and the souring economy have stalled the project.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next here on HawaiiMagazine.com.

Photo: International Market Place

loco_moco_HawaiiThe June-July issue of Food Network Magazine recently hailed the loco moco at Hukilau Cafe in Laie, Oahu, as the best in Hawaii.

Not the best loco moco, as one might rightly expect. But the best burger in Hawaii.

“A loco moco is Hawaii’s take on a burger,” writes Food Network Magazine of the Hawaii comfort food favorite in its feature "50 States, 50 Burgers," honoring burgers from across the United States.

We found Food Network’s assessment interesting. The classic version of a loco moco is a beef patty cradled on a bed of rice with a fried over-easy egg perched on top. A smothering of brown gravy binds the components together.

The loco moco is barely even a burger variant. When we crave a burger in Hawaii, we generally get a burger. Not a loco moco.

The loco moco’s origins date back to 1949 at Hilo’s Lincoln Grill where a group of hungry teenage athletes once arrived looking for something cheap to sate their appetites. The owner threw together some white rice, a beef patty and brown gravy to appease the young men. The fried egg would follow later.

Today, there are countless variations of the loco moco, featuring everything from Spam on top to fried rice underneath. Even established Island chefs are fond of paying homage to the humble dish. Hawaii Regional Cuisine pioneer Alan Wong’s Ala Moana Center eatery, The Pineapple Room, serves a version (pictured, above) with a kiawe wood-grilled Maui Cattle Co. beef patty and two farm-fresh sunny-side-up eggs on a bed of fried rice. A rich veal jus blankets the dish.

Celebrities have also shared their love for the loco moco, although sometimes, as with Wheel of Fortune co-host Pat Sajak, with a slight twist.

“I substitute the hamburger patty with Portuguese sausage, which I like better, and I have my eggs scrambled as opposed to (over easy). But I love it because you can eat it for breakfast and not eat for three or four days,” says Sajak.

So what had Food Network Magazine salivating over Hukilau Cafe's take on the loco moco? The gravy. The mag credits the gravy's rich, beefy tones for separating Hukilau’s loco moco from the rest of the pack.

Hukilau Cafe indeed makes a fine loco moco. But HAWAII Magazine’s staff has its own favorites:

food_wine_paradiseThis week Oahu holds its biggest culinary festival. If 20 chefs and a dozen winemakers don’t whet your appetite for the fest, there’s also music, fashion and golf.

Hawaii Food & Wine Paradise is a four-day culinary gala, held at west Oahu’s Ko Olina Resort and Waikiki’s Halekulani Hotel. The event kicks off Thursday, May 21, with the Paradise Golf Experience at the Ko Olina Golf Club, complete with food stations and a gourmet bento lunch.

That night there are two special food events. First, Paradise Uncorked, a six-course dinner with wine pairings at Roy’s Ko Olina. And second, the Paradise Food & Wine Showcase, at a private beachfront estate in Ko Olina called Lanikuhonua, with seven of Hawaii’s best chefs providing the food. There will be wine and beverage stations and entertainment.

The luncheon wine match competition on Friday, Pairings In Paradise, will feature four chefs—including Diego Oka from Mexico City—trying to pair wines with their dishes in competition with the moderator, Tim Love. Love is the chef-owner of two Fort Worth, Texas, restaurants.

Friday night will see a Paradise Beachside Barbeque, with far fancier than normal barbecue foods whipped up by eight chefs, cocktails created by master New York mixologist Julie Reiner, and music from the legendary Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii.

All this leads up to Saturday’s Grand Finale: a dinner that ranges from a smoked kampachi and barbecue eel terrine created by Lanai chef Fabrice Huet to a Diamond Head Market Chocolate Delight from Oahu’s Kelvin Ro. There’ll be wine with each course, of course. And finishing things up, a fashion show and an appearance by Hawaii’s thrilling jazz quintet, Bop Tribal.

In the Island tradition, all this demands a hana hou, or an encore. So there’s Hana Hou At Halekulani, a special brunch on Sunday in the Halekulani Ballroom.

Festival proceeds help support the Kapolei Foundation, which provides scholarships for local youth.

Hungry yet? For reservations: (808)722-9892. For more details, click here.

Photo of Kelvin Ro at Aloun Farms, courtesy Hawaii Food & Wine Paradise

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