Christmas in Hawaii
Mele Kalikimaka Haouli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Hawaii). There are many wonderful reasons for owning a vacation home. But my favorite is the way ownership allows people to make another place home. And I don't mean just a nice place to eat and sleep. Instead, if you are lucky, you can sink into the local neighborhood and culture. And you can help your guests do the same.
Friday we jet off to Kauai to celebrate Christmas, New Years and - yes - to work on the rental homes. For my family that home away from home is Hawaii. And more specifically Poipu Beach on the Island of Kauai.
We do own homes at a lake and a ski area in Washington State also. They are wonderful places that we love for different reasons. But I figure I was accidentally born to english/german parents in Washington State because, deep down, I feel Hawaiian. Several years ago I decided it was my home town. After all, who says where you are born must be your home town. Maybe the place you feel more at home should be your home town.
How It Started:27 years ago my soon to be wife convinced me we should honeymoon in Hawaii. The idea didn't hold much appeal because my brain was flooded with a stereotypical vision of grass skirted women doing the tourist hula accompanied by toy ukulele's. At the time, I considered myself more of an adventurer who would be bored stiff sitting on the beach drinking a maitai with thousands of other pale skinned tourists.
Boy was I wrong!
From the moment I got off the plane in Lihue Kauai in 1976, at what was then a small open-air airport, something changed. I slowed down. Way down. Everywhere I looked people were smiling at me. It felt like the twilight zone. How could so many people act so happy? At first I thought they had been trained to be courteous - as workers are at many tourist destinations. It took several return trips before I began to learn more about Aloha and the Hawaiian Culture. The Hawaiian people have a long history of accommodation which has been continually augmented by the culture of peoples from China, Japan, Puerto Rico and the Philippines who were brought in as workers beginning 200 years ago.
Hawaii is the most isolated major island group on the globe, the population is one of the most diverse and one of the most religious (Christian and other). The concept of "Ohana" (recently celebrated in the Disney cartoon Lilo and Stitch), permeates every race and every culture that has come to Hawaii. Almost everyone participates in politics and local government the island being, of course, much like a small town where people know their neighbors and politicians. Perhaps most important, central to the thinking of every citizen of Hawaii, whether of Hawaiian blood or not, is music, dance and the spirit of Aloha.
Plus of course the wonderful climate that hovers around 80 degrees year round. There are only two states in the US that have never recorded a temperature of 100 degrees or hotter. One is Alaska and the other, surprise, is Hawaii. No house has a furnace and most do not have air conditioning. Cooling trade winds blow 85% of the time giving the place that kind of euphoric feel and smell that every Hollywood movie tries to capture in their version of paradise.
SPIRIT OF ALOHA:
Even if you have never been to Hawaii you have undoubtedly heard the world Aloha. If you've been there once or twice you've noticed it being used in almost every conversation. "Alooooooha" - it is often used, almost without thought, to lure a tourist into a store or to entertain an audience. But to "Kamaaina" (natives or long time citizens) Aloha is much more.
Better writers than I have stumbled when trying to adequately describe Aloha. You may have been told that Aloha means Hello, and Goodbye and Love. And it does. But it also a deep spiritual understanding pervasive to the entire society.
Queen Lili`uokalani (The last queen of Hawaii, 1838-1917) said, "Aloha was a recognition of life in another. If there was life there was mana, goodness and wisdom, and if there was goodness and wisdom there was a god-quality. No Hawaiian could greet another with 'Aloha' unless he felt it in his own heart. If he felt anger or hate in his heart he had to cleanse himself before he said 'Aloha'."
Now that is a pretty tall order for most of us to achieve with Guests. But I think it's a good goal for any of us who offer our homes to others. Hawaiians aren't perfect either but by infusing Aloha into their lives it sure looks like they are trying to be.
So it is my thinking that the people of Hawaii have become some of the most generous, warm, considerate and kind people in the world mostly because they have a focus. In some strange way it is what in business today is labeled a "Mission Statement." A wise man once said, "If you don't know where you're going, that is exactly where you'll get." Hawaiians have the distinct privilege of being given a clear and concise goal from the time they are born. To live with a spirit of Aloha. It is this that I admire so much.
Management by Aloha:
Only if you are born there or are lucky enough to spend time there does the true meaning of Aloha become clear. It has been a mantra of the corporate world to operate "Management by Objective." MBO dictates that organizations decide what they want to do before they attempt to do it. And, more importantly, that each and every task in the group be directed to accomplishing the goal. This in itself is a worthy concept but has sometimes been taken to extremes that cause managers and employees to subject their lives and families to conditions that are unhealthy.
Some years ago when Hawaiian tourism was suffering a down turn, a professor from the University of Hawaii's hotel management program wrote a book that I happened to come across in a bookstore. (I have forgotten the exact title and his name, but will provide it next week). He made the comment that there are many great destinations in the world with bright sun, white sand beaches and inviting teal oceans. So why should visitors prefer Hawaii? The answer, he said, is that Hawaii has something that no one else has - Hawaii has Aloha.
His suggestion was that Hawaiian hotel properties, often owned by off islanders, should embrace the spirit of Aloha, feature it in their lodging and, in fact, allow it to run throughout their operations. He said employees should be allowed some of the work week to display hand made crafts. They should be encouraged to entertain or sing for guests. Staff "Keiki" (children) should be allowed to come to work with their parents on special occasions. The hotels that embraced the concept were soon enjoying greater occupancies and glowing comments from guests. A trend that continues to this day.
In the past when I have mentioned his concept to groups unfamiliar with Hawaii it has sometimes brought giggles from the audience because he called his concept "Management by Aloha." But if you remember that Aloha is a very powerful mission statement, but one that is based in deep interpersonal values, you can understand why MBA is so successful. It is Management by Objective but with a much deeper and profound foundation.
Although each vacation rental home is in fact a very small business, working to greet guests and make them feel at home is a worthy goal that could make any home in any location produce more revenue and enjoyment for the owners as well.
If you'll indulge me, next week I will be telling you a few of our hometown Hawaii stories. Experiences I would have missed had it not been for the opportunity to own vacation homes and live at least least part of my life there. They allow me to sink into the community, to get to know people, to leave one world behind and enjoy another. It is my pleasure to have more than one hometown and all the joy that comes with that. I'll be telling you about:
- The Friendly Fisherman
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As always I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Office@VRIA.org
Home of the Week:
Overlooking downtown San Diego you'll find Foxwood Suites just minutes from all the beautiful sites and activities San Diego offers! Owner Darrin Fuchs offers exclusive accommodations for vacation, business and even the military traveler. Take a look at (FoxwoodSuites.com)FoxwoodSuites.com. (If you want your place considered for Home of the Week please drop me an email.)
Hey,Great newsletter this week for a newbie who is still trying to get ready for a spring 2004 opening.
Hey, back at you Dee. Good luck with your opening. Its fun to get things rolling and even more fun when its
P.S. Want to sing a Hawaiian Christmas Carol?
"Mele Kalikimaka" was written by R. Alex Anderson who from high school to his death in 1995 composed nearly 200 songs. He wrote the song in 1949 and it may have been first recorded in about 1950 by Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters. It was a big hit. You can find the sheet music for Mele Kalikimaka at http://www.sheetmusicplus.com or buy recordings of it at http://www.mele.com.
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say,
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