Friday, November 20, 2009

Time for Hawaii Time

As I get ready to head out on my well deserved and much needed vacation, it got me thinking about how Hawaiian people live on their own time - "Hawaii Time".  Hawaii time is slowing down, taking a breath, and doing things at your own pace, all in good time.  I was talking to my husband last night about how annoyed I will get if I have to wait in line at the Starbucks in Waikiki (there is a 99% chance of that happening) - when I realized that vacation is all about taking a break, slowing down and being able to unwind.  Will it really matter if I have to wait 5 extra minutes for my Latte?  Probably not.  Maybe that's why living in Hawaii is such a dream - its Hawaii time all the time.  Even if you are not in Hawaii for Thanksgiving, why not use the time to slow down, breathe deeply, and appreciate your surroundings.  Aloha!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Take The Natalani Travel Poll!

It's on the right hand side of the blog - this survey is thanks to an interesting travel discussion I had with some colleagues last week - and I would love to know your travel preferences too.  Happy Voting!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Holiday Travel Survival Guide

Yes, it really is the holiday season. Before you head out and brave the airports, the roads, and your grandma's cooking, check out these tips thanks to Christopher Elliott at, as the upcoming travel season will be different than past ones in several important ways. You need more than promises of warm fuzzies. You need a survival guide.

1. Most of us will only travel if we have to
That’s the assessment of Juline Mills, who teaches at the University of New Haven’s department of hospitality management. “The upcoming travel season will see people traveling primarily to visit friends and relatives, and not so much for leisure vacations,” she says. That is a significant departure from previous holidays, in which Americans used Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s to get away. For those of us who do decide to go somewhere, Mills predicts more people will cruise, because it’s “the best deal in travel,” adding, “meals, lodging, and most activities are included.”
Survival strategy: If you don’t stay home, steer clear of a cruise vacation. You’ll avoid the crowds.

2. Last-minute is in
The time between booking and departure is growing ever shorter, to the point where the “last-minute” vacation is becoming the norm. The 2009 holiday travel season will see more 11th-hour getaways than ever, says Helen Fullem, president or The Crown Collection, a Paramus, N.J.-based marketing group for luxury hotels. “Every year in the past that I can remember — going 30 years back — the best hotels in the Caribbean were virtually sold out by the middle of the year,” she said. “Travelers would pay any price in order to secure reservations for the entire family at some of the chicest and most expensive resorts and be grateful that they even secured the space, at whatever cost,” she added. This year, those same travelers have more options than ever. And many of them aren’t deciding on a holiday destination until days before their departure. She’s seen customers booking their European vacations “two to three days in advance.”
Survival strategy: For the best flight and hotel options, book at least a week in advance, if not more.

3. Try not to miss your flight
If you do, you might be unable to catch another plane until 2010. That’s particularly true if you’re flying over the Christmas holiday. Airlines have cut their schedules to the point where every last seat is spoken for — especially during the busy holiday season. Observers say we haven’t seen such tight capacity in many years, if ever. “Fewer flights mean fewer ways for airlines to reaccommodate passengers, both those who volunteer to give up seats, as well as those who miss their flights,” says Seth Kaplan, a managing partner for Airline Weekly, a trade publication. “Showing up on time is more important than ever, because the next flight to a destination will, on average, be further in the future than it would have been last year.”
Survival strategy: Call your airline to double-check your departure, and give yourself plenty of time to check in at the airport.

4. You’ll probably pay a luggage fee
It’s safe to say more travelers than ever will pay extra to transport their luggage and presents during the 2009 holidays than at any other time. Airlines have discovered their money tree, and its name is baggage fees.
“I see this finally making an impact, not so much on the first checked bag but on the second bag,” says Susan Foster, author of “Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler.” She predicts air travelers will try to consolidate their bags to avoid additional fees, and more “bin rage” as passengers fight for increasingly scarce overhead space for their property. Her advice? Weigh your bag pre-flight, get familiar with your airline’s luggage policies and ship any gifts ahead so that you don’t have to haggle with your carrier over fees.
Survival strategy: Bring only a carry-on bag.

5. It’s a Wi-Fi world up there
A recent survey concluded that 62 percent of leisure travelers will carry a smartphone this year, compared with just 19 percent a year ago. And nowhere will that change be more apparent than on a plane, according to Mike Benjamin, the chief executive of FlightView, a developer of phone applications for travelers.
Chances are better than ever that you’ll be able to access a hotspot on your plane during this holiday travel season, empowering you “with more information than ever,” he said. “ With no major changes in how air traffic works, coupled with unpredictable weather, travelers headed to the airport this holiday season will be armed with actionable flight information that they know how to access and use.”
Survival strategy: Pack your phone in your carry-on bag. You may need it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Google Street View Maps - Finally in Hawaii

When I read the news this week that street view was now available for Hawaii on Google maps, the first place I went was my old apartment block on Pau St. The memories! It was great to be able to zoom in, see my old parking stall and the street that I used to walk each morning and evening as I made my way to the bus stop for work. Why was Hawaii not included earlier? I'm not sure. But the good news: Whenever I need a fix, I can head to Google Maps and dream of what was, and what I am sure will be in the future. Enjoy the street view of my old humble abode.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can You Say Neglected?

My poor blog is terrible shape. I have been neglecting the blog due to work, sleep and exercise. Poor excuses I know. By the time I get home I am so tired that I can't think about paradise. And in the mornings, I have been trying to go to the gym and get in my exercise to compensate for all the holiday candy I can't stop shovelling into my mouth! We are heading to Hawaii shortly and I hope that the spark will revive itself. I miss writing about Hawaii! More to come soon, I promise....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bookmarks for Week of October 26

When I'm not blogging, I am constantly reading! Here are some stories of interest to me this week - I hope you enjoy them too.

Luggage Lowpoints - Maggelans has a great article on what to do if your luggage is lost - thanks to True Aloha.

Hawaii Humane Society 2010 Pet Calendars Available! - Visit any of the shelters in Hawaii and pick up a calendar for $10 to support the animals.

People of Hawaii - Are You Better off Now than 1 Year Ago? Now that President Obama is in, did voting for 'change we can believe in' actually pay off?

Visiting the Corn - Follow Richard Ha as he profiles Daniel Loeffler, the Big Island's premier corn grower.

Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki - Controversy around the legacy of Princess Victoria Kaiulani is swirling in Hawaii.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bookmarks for Week of October 19

When I'm not blogging, I am constantly reading! Here are some stories of interest to me this week - I hope you enjoy them too.

TV Writer Offers an Insider's View - Mad Men Producer Maria Jacquemetton is doing a 2-day seminar with UH-Manoa's Pacific New Media, focusing on how to craft a script and break into television writing.

Wyland's Earth Day Wins San Diego Film Festival - The winning film document's the artist's attempt to paint a 3-acre image of Planet Earth in 24 hours atop the Long Beach Convention Center.

Oahu Needs Change (We Can Believe In), or Congestion is Here to Stay - The never ending problem on the Island - traffic.

Hawaii Islands, Resorts Get Honors, Again - Conde Nast Traveller just announced their 2009 Reader's Choice Awards, and as usual, Hawaii gets a nod with the top 2 Islands for travel in the Pacific.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fancy a Cruise?

Thinking about a trip to Hawaii in the next few months? Have you considered a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands? Beat of Hawaii is reporting today that you can score a 7 day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands for as little as $499 per person with NCL Price of America Cruises. This is an amazing deal!

Departures are available on October 17, 24, 31 and November 7, 14, 21, 28. For more information, head to the Vacations To Go Website!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Here's some of my favorite pictures from O'ahu to help you forget about the fall weather....enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bookmarks for Week of October 12

When I'm not blogging (which is often right now!), I am constantly reading! Here are some stories of interest to me this week - I hope you enjoy them too.

Historic Waikiki - How It Became Hawaii's Most Valuable Real Estate

Will Hawaii Become the next California? Sunny climates and beautiful beaches aside, Hawaii is starting to experience some of California's growing problems

Honolulu Most Romantic City - Worst for Theater

10 Best iPhone Apps for Hawaii Vacations - I don't have one but wish I did

Trouble in Paradise - Some humor to start off the week

You can check out all my bookmarks at delicious

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Needed A Break

It has been close to three weeks since I last wrote a blog post. The reason why? Well, I don't have one. For some reason, my usual Hawaii inspiration disappeared as my time and thoughts have been focused on other things. Thankfully, its not long now before we head back to the Islands again, just in time to get me out of this rut. Don't get my wrong, my love of Hawaii hasn't changed, but keeping my eye on the prize has been difficult as of late.

Is anyone else feeling like this? Is it the change in weather? Or is it just my attitude? Time will tell!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

36% of Hawaii Residents Are Born Somewhere Else!

More than ever these days, current residents of Hawaii weren’t born in the Islands.

The number of Hawaii residents who were born in Hawaii dropped from 2007 to 2008, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.

64% of residents in 2008 were born in Hawaii, down from 66 percent in 2007.

Hawaii ranks 28th for its percentage of people who still live in the state in which they were born, down from 24th in 2007.

To give you some context, 72.5% of California (CA) residents were born in California, a number that hasn't changed much from 2007.

Louisiana (LA) has the highest percentage of Louisiana-born residents at 82%. Nevada (NV) has the lowest, with only 29% of residents being native-born.

The data from the American Community Survey contains a broad range of information about working, living and spending patterns and can be found online here.

Have you ever thought about moving to the Islands? Here's some inspiration for you to get started (be sure to have your speakers on)!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When I'm Not Blogging...I'm at the Gym

I have been slack with regards to blogging lately, and not for the reasons that you may think. In fact, when I am not working or sleeping, I am at the gym trying to drop some pounds (or kilos as my Aussie friends would say). I have been working out religiously as we are heading back to the Islands in November and I want to look my best in a bikini. After just watching "Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock" on TV last night, it seems like I may have a long way to go! Check out this video below for a look at the episode that aired last night.

Hawaii is one of the best places for those who enjoy fitness - with the ocean as your backyard, there are so many options for exercise to help you stay fit and healthy. In fact, Hawaii is often one of the top ranked states in regards to health and well being, with high life expectancy, low obesity levels and an impressive quality of life. Hawaii is also one of the happiest US states, as I have written about previously.

If you lived in Hawaii, what kinds of activities would you do to stay healthy? For me, swimming is number 1, and if I keep up with my current exercise routine, hopefully running will be my number 2. The toughest part for me - staying motivated. If only there was a cure for that....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Orchids at Halekulani Unveils New Hawaii Centric Menus

For all you foodies out there, some welcome news from the Halekulani in Waikiki. Orchids Restaurant has just announced a new lunch and dinner menu by Executive Chef Vikram Garg and Chef de Cuisine Darryl Fujita.

The new menu features a wide selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts while preserving three of Orchids signature dishes:

Steamed Oriental Onaga 'Orchids Style'
Manoa Butter Lettuce Salad
Halekulani Coconut Cake

I had the chance to look at the new menu (thanks for sending the press release Erika!) and I would say my top three picks on the new menu would be:

Big Island Goat Cheese with Kalamata Olive Cake, Tomato and Macadamia Nut Chutney
Lobster and Crab Burger with Sambal Aioli, Pickled Cucumber and Dill Parmesan Fries
Kumamoto Oysters with Japanese Cucumber and Yuzu Dressing

The menu has been designed to celebrate contemporary seafood and there are some amazing items to choose from, with modern flavors and local produce.

For more information about the Halekulani or to make a reservation at Orchids, visit their website. I am looking forward to Sunday Brunch on my next trip!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to Work, Back to Reality....

I had a great vacation over the summer, and the weather here in Seattle has been great. Whenever people come to visit, its always an opportunity to do some touristy things in your local area; things you have done many times or maybe something new. I have been to the Space Needle enough this year, that's for sure!

So, if you live in Hawaii and you have guests, where do you like to take them and what are the must-see destinations? O'ahu is my island of choice and my top 5 tourist attractions would include the following:

1. Waikiki Beach

2. North Shore

3. Dinner at Alan Wong's

4. Duke's Canoe Club at the Outrigger Waikiki

5. Diamond Head

What ideas do you have? Why not share with me your tips on best things to do on Maui or Kauai?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Forever 21 Heading to Waikiki

Forever 21 is making its way to Waikiki! The fashion retailer specializing in trendy clothing for young women and men has leased a large retail space at the Royal Hawaiian Center that had been originally planned for bankrupt Hawaii retailer Hilo Hattie.

Forever 21 plans to open a 42,580-square-foot, three-level department store at the Waikiki shopping center next summer!

The store, which will be located between The Cheesecake Factory restaurant and fashion boutique Bebe at the Diamond Head end of Royal Hawaiian Center, will be Forever 21’s third Hawaii store. The Los Angeles-based company also has stores in Pearlridge Center and at my favorite mall of all time - the Ala Moana Center.

The size of the store will give Forever 21 the opportunity to introduce more of its brand labels to the Hawaii market, including men’s and plus-size clothing.

For those that have been in Waikiki recently, you may have noticed that things are looking pretty impressive in regards to shopping and overall glamour. It makes me wonder if I will ever need to visit the Ala Moana Center again, as almost everything you need is right in the heart of downtown Waikiki. There's only one store missing.....a Hello Kitty Store!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What is Your Favorite Hawaiian Food?

Its 4pm and I am hungry. My mom is still saying with us so tonight so I am planning on preparing a special meal - Armando Percuoco's famous Truffled Egg Pasta from Buon Ricordo. I was dreaming about this dish earlier and it got me thinking about Hawaiian food and how much I love the regional cuisine there. My favorite Hawaiian food would have to be Poke, followed closely by Mac Salad - food from both ends of the spectrum!

Do you have a favorite Hawaiian food? Please share it so I can drool some more!

Do You Smell? Then Get Off 'The Bus'

Here's some quirky news!

The Honolulu City Council is considering a bill that would impose up to a $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail for public transit passengers convicted of being too smelly.

The bill is to be heard on Thursday in committee, and it outlines a plan to make it illegal to have "odors that unreasonably disturb others or interfere with their use of the transit system." It doesn't matter if it's body odor or offensive fumes from clothes, personal belongings or animals. Hysterical!

Councilmen Rod Tam and Nestor Garcia co-sponsored the anti-odor bill. It will be interesting to hear the initial reactions to this on Thursday. What do you think? Do you agree? Or is this pushing the limits?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Travel Product For Review

Stop the press - my first product for review arrived in the mail from Australia last night! Let's just say its not specifically related to Hawaii, but you could definitely use it there! Stay tuned for more details - any guesses on what it might be?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Great Night at Alan Wong’s

I recently went to Honolulu for a 3 night mini-vacation, and top of the to-do list was to dine at Alan Wong’s, on King St. I have frequented the restaurant many times before and it is definitely on my list of top 5 restaurants (maybe even top 3!). I wanted to share with you some of the food that I enjoyed over the course of the evening, as well as touch on a slight mishap that happened with my Ginger-Crusted Onaga. The end result was great, and my compliments to our waiter Shawn and Kerry the Restaurant Manager who handled the situation impeccably.

As I mentioned, I would consider myself a ‘regular’ at Alan Wong's when I visit the Islands. So, I have tried almost everything on the menu, as it doesn’t tend to change dramatically, with exception of the specials. I actually ordered ala carte and my mom had the 5-course tasting menu,– hence to say there are a lot of pictures! I plan to do a separate post about the 5 course menu shortly.

My first course was an asparagus dish that was on the specials list, and, I didn’t get a full copy of the menu (I realized this after I had left the restaurant) so I don’t know the name of it. However, the asparagus was lightly cooked, with an amazing dressing that was nutty and salty at the same time. Delicious.

Second course was the Hamakua Springs Tomato, Beet and Avocado Salad, with Hilo hearts of palm and Li Hing Mui Ume Vinaigrette. This has to be my favorite dish on the menu, however they have changed up the presentation of this dish which I don’t particularly like, and the delicate flavors of the ingredients don’t mix as well as they used to. Still delicious though.

Third course was the Ginger Crusted Onaga, (Long-Tail Red Snapper), with miso sesame vinaigrette and organically grown Hamakua mushroom and corn. This fish is always amazing, so when I tried to cut into it and it was like rubber (it was a little overcooked), I was shocked! I told our waiter Shawn about it and the look of alarm on his face was terrible! Kerry, the Restaurant Manager came over to apologize and within minutes the entire kitchen staff (its an open kitchen) was analyzing my piece of fish with horror and dismay. I don’t think things are sent back to the kitchen very often, hence the fuss. So, I got a new piece of fish, and would you believe, the middle was raw. I didn’t want someone to be fired or chefs to start crying so I asked Shawn not to tell anyone, as I didn’t want to create a scene. Minutes later, he showed up with some more wine for us as an apologetic gesture. So, I didn’t get to eat all my fish, but the restaurant staff (including the kitchen) were amazing and I really appreciate that they took the time to try and fix the problem. So, despite my little fish mishap I would go back in a flash, as both the food and the service are always outstanding.

We had a Groth Vineyards 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley with our meal that was lovely. The whole evening was just great, and my sincere thanks to Shawn, Kerry and their team who made it a memorable night. I will be back for Thanksgiving, and look forward to another enjoyable meal.

To make reservations, visit their website or call (808) 949-2526.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's Finally Here - Hawaii!

I had such a great sleep last night - perhaps it was because I knew I didn't have to get up and do anything this morning, because I am finally on vacation! It has been almost 6 months since I really had a vacation, and although that doesn't sound like much, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes lately that would make you understand the importance of taking a break. I managed to take the email function off the menu on my smartphone, so now when I turn it on, I can only make calls and check the internet with ease, and to retrieve my work mail would require some difficulty. So its time to separate for a couple of weeks, and really take time out to reflect on the important things in life - friends and family.

I will be in Hawaii in just over 24 hours and I can't wait to see my mom, and head to the Barefoot Bar and see Rex. Ahhh, the good things in life!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation Deals in Hawaii? Well....

I must be on every email mailing list to get last minute deals and specials to Hawaii (any excuse for a vacation right?) So, an email alert came through from Hawaiian Airlines last week, offering vacation packages to Hawaii (flight, hotel and car). I went to the website to check out the specials, and I was able to find return airfare, 5 nights accommodation at the Outrigger Waikiki and car rental for $900 per person for the Thanksgiving break. Sounds like a good deal right? Well, when you price each part out separately, it turns out that it actually isn't a good deal after all. If there are 2 of you going on the trip at $900 each, its actually rather expensive.

$350 - Return flights from SEA to HNL
$450 - Accommodation
$100 - Rental Car

Plus taxes, gratuity, meals, etc etc.....

I guess this is a good price for Thanksgiving, but when you compare to other travel deals currently available (right now I think of Las Vegas and Mexico) - this seems a little steep. Too bad, as I was almost ready to book!

I do think that better deals to Hawaii are around the corner, so keep looking for specials. One option we thought about was using our Hawaiian air miles for the flights and just paying for the hotel and car, which can help with costs. Other options include staying at hotels that offer special rates and deals e.g. Free breakfast included, stay 4 nights get one free etc. There are many ways to make your vacation a reality, you just need to do your research and be prepared for the occasional compromise! And for me, that means not taking a third trip to Hawaii this year. Oh well...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time For A New Look

I have been writing and creating this blog for almost one year. It's hard to believe actually, time really gets away from you. I have played around with many ideas in regards to changing the look, feel and overall image of the blog, in order to completely represent me and my thoughts about Hawaii. So, as I embark on vacation starting on Saturday, I plan to play around with the blog, and starting in September, things may look a little different. Its time to step it up a notch, and with the 1 year anniversary around the corner, I think now is a great time to get started!

Friday, August 7, 2009

So Much To Do, So Little Time!

I am heading to O'ahu next Sunday to meet my mom for a quick stay in the sun, before we both head back to Seattle for some vacation time. The problem I am experiencing is....I don't have enough time to do all the things I want to do! I am trying to get an itinerary planned and if I had 30 hours in each day it would work just great. So, I have to squeeze some things out and save them for my next trip. So far, I have the following planned - what should I cut out? Or should I sleep less? Any feedback would be appreciated. I have 3 nights and 3 days to get this done!

Shopping at Ala Moana Center

Shoe Shopping at Nine West in Waikiki

Waikiki Shopping in general (I like to shop)...

Dinner at Alan Wong's on King St (This is the only thing that can't be taken off the list - its a necessity!)

Dinner at Roy's in Waikiki (we could make this a lunch?)

A meal of some sort at the Moana Surfrider and the Cheesecake Factory

Beach/swimming/tanning/cocktail drinking/at least one novel read (this will likely take up most of my time)

Pearl Harbor

Diamond Head

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Does an Australian Become an American?

On my Facebook page over the weekend, an old friend from my high school days commented on how he thought I had become 'American'. Was this a compliment? I don't think so, but I will need to confirm. However, he got me thinking about my life since moving to the US and what has changed so drastically that someone would think I was becoming American. Here is my take on the main things that have changed since moving here almost three years ago (on August 19 it will be three years!!):

1. My mum is now called 'MOM'

2. I no longer wear jumpers; I wear sweaters

3. I don't go on holidays any more; I take vacations

4. I would never hang my laundry on the clothesline out the back of my house: 1. Because we don't have a clothesline and 2. that's what a dryer is for

5. I now about 20 pounds heavier (not kilograms) thanks to all the awful fast food on every corner, no matter which direction you look

6. I think President Obama is awesome

7. I say the word 'like' more than I care to admit

8. I have a strange Aussie/American accent; similar to Nicole Kidman in 'Bewitched'

9. Dallas Cowboys are my favorite football team (Canterbury Bulldogs? Who?)

10. 'Bold and the Beautiful' is the new 'Home and Away'

Despite all these changes, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my new American way of life and all the opportunities it has brought my way. Here's to more strange words, hamburgers and living the American dream!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Record Breaking Weather in Seattle

You can imagine my delight to be living in Seattle when the hottest day on record EVER is recorded! That's right, Seattle sweltered yesterday, with temps up to 105 degrees in some local suburban areas. While I love the heat, its hard to enjoy it when you are not equipped to handle it. Seattle rarely gets above 90 degrees, and when it does its only for a day here or there. Fortunately, John purchased an air conditioner for our bedroom on the weekend so we are nice and cool, however the air conditioner is so loud it makes it hard to sleep! Oh well, you can't win them all. I rushed home yesterday to get our two cats out of the heat, only to find that they prefer it vs. the chilled bedroom. Squid was born in Hawaii, so maybe that's why!

Speaking of weather, my friend and colleague Linda mentioned yesterday that Hawaii is the only state in the US that has never reached 100 degrees. Go figure! The temperature in Hawaii is fairly consistent, and when I lived there, the high temp often hovered at the 90 degree mark, but never much higher. I wonder whether we may see this change as we experience the ongoing effects of global warming? Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Waikiki Starlight Luau - Hilton Hawaiian Village

The latest luau on the scene in Waikiki is thanks to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Waikiki Starlight Luau® is the only outdoor luau in Waikiki with spectacular entertainment and dining under the stars. You can expect to experience the colorful heritage of the Pacific Islands and join the excitement of the celebration with live music, drums and the drama of traditional Hawaiian, Tahitian and Samoan dance - so get ready to hula!

In addition to the entertainment, you will be able to indulge in a feast of Hawaiian foods, made with traditional island ingredients.

The Waikiki Starlight Luau is on every Sunday – Thursday, 5:30 pm – 8:15 pm (weather permitting) on the rooftop of the Mid-Pacific Conference Center.

Reservations are needed, so if you are interested please call the Hilton Hawaiian Village luau desk at 808-941-LUAU (808-941-5828), or you can book on their website. Prices start at $US95 for adults and $US47.50 for kids.

Unfortunately, I won't have time to fit this in on my next trip (18 sleeps to go but who's counting)! If anyone has had the chance to experience this, please let me know whether it's worth putting on the itinerary for next time. Although this is great that the Hilton is offering a luau, from what I hear, nothing beats a Hawaiian luau hosted by a Hawaiian family!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Beach Reads

Books released over summer seem to be the hot thing here in the US. Everywhere I look there is a new title coming out, making my reading list longer and longer! I have been at home recovering from surgery this week and I was hoping to get cracking on all my new novels, but unfortunately this has not happened - yet. And to top that off, Seattle is experiencing one of the best summer seasons in history so that makes it hard to stay indoors and read (house is too hot) or go outside and read (sun is too hot)!

However I am committed to getting through a few novels this summer season and here is my recommended reading list - all of these books are available from If anyone has read any of these let me know, in case I have a book on the list that doesn't make the cut!

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham
A Better View of Paradise by Randy Sue Coburn
The Husband Habit by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Made in Hawaii Festival Preparations Begin

The Annual Made in Hawaii Festival is scheduled for August 21-23, and although it’s still four weeks away, this year’s festival has already confirmed nearly 500 booths featuring local products and exhibitors, the largest number of exhibitors since the inception of this event in 1995.

This year, more than 35,000 visitors are expected to attend the festival, which will be held at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall and Arena in downtown Honolulu.

The Made in Hawaii Festival website has the full list of exhibitors, some of which include:

Aloha Kine
Ahhhloha Bath Salts
Alii Kula Lavender
Hawaiian Chip Company

and many more!

The Made in Hawaii Association estimates that booth vendors, who come from five of the Hawaiian islands, will sell more than 2008’s $1.5 million take, plus an estimated $10 million in residual sales for the following 12 months after the show. That's some serious sales given the current economy. If you can make it, expect to see some of the best local foods, crafts, and products as Hawaii celebrates its 50 years of Statehood.

Entry is just $3 and this looks like one of the best local festivals to be held all year - perfect for those wanting to stock up on local Hawaiian products.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hawaii Forgot to Vote for Obama?

Could it be, that the President of the United States was not supported by all in his home state of Hawaii? As it turns out, Hawaii’s voter turnout of 51.8% was the lowest of all 50 states in 2008!

Only 53.5% of Hawaii’s total population was registered to vote last year - making Hawaii the lowest state with registered voters, despite having Hawaii born and raised (and now President!) Barack Obama representing the Democratic Party.
The top five states for voter turnout were Minnesota (75%), New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Maine (71.2%), and Louisiana (70.3%). The U.S. Census Bureau report was released on Monday, and concluded that about 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, which was an increase of about 5 million from the 2004 election.

What's interesting to note is that the increase in voters was made up of 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained mostly unchanged. If you want to see more results from the report, head to the Census website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hello Kitty Baby Perfume!

I haven't written a post about Hello Kitty for quite a while now. I recently became obsessed with Tokidoki and love their Hello Kitty collection. However, the items are pretty expensive and I think my husband would not be impressed if I came home with a $98 Oversized Donutella Plush!!

I really need to get my Hawaii Hello Kitty list ready as I prepare for my upcoming trip. And to help me along is my friend Tommy, who just sent me a link to Hello Kitty Baby Perfume, available for sale in Hong Kong! Hello Kitty's brand new fragrance targeted to little girls and babies alike, will be on offer for HK$275 (50ml). I need to find out if its available for sale in the US - and if so - where I can get some! Ok yes, it is for babies, but how can you not smile at the thought of Hello Kitty perfume for babies - just what will marketers think of next?

So far, I have the following HK items on my Hawaii shopping list - does anyone else have any suggestions?

Hello Kitty/Tokidoki Notebook
Hello Kitty Cell Phone Charm: Bunny - Pink
Hello Kitty Ice Pop Molds

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trump Hotel Waikiki - Almost Open for Business!

Its official - the Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk has started taking reservations for November. The 464-unit hotel has started accepting bookings starting November 16, just in time for the Thanksgiving break.

Rates start at $US255 per night for a studio hotel room, and go up to $US8,000 per night for a penthouse suite in the 38-story building at the Diamond Head end of Fort DeRussy. The hotel will feature a number of amenities, including Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Steak restaurant and The Spa at Trump. Take a look at the location on the map below - its in such a great location and its hard to miss. So even if you can't afford to stay there, make sure you swing by and take a look - its breathtaking!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hawaii State Farm Fair - July 18-19

Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not head to the Hawaii State Farm Fair at Bishop Museum?

Planned activities at the Fair include:

Livestock Exhibit
Farmer's Market
Huge Plant Sale
Cooking Demonstrations and Exhibits
Corn Husking and Watermelon Eating Contest
Kiddie Rides and Live Entertainment

The Hawaii State Farm Fair for Hawaii residents costs $5 for adults, $3 for children, and $15.95 for adults, $12.95 for children if you are a visitor to the Islands. For more info head to the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation website. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Yum! Alan Wong's Next Generation Dinner

On July 29, 2009, Chef de cuisine, Derek Watanabe will be managing the menu for the Next Generation Dinner at Alan Wong's in Honolulu (King St).

As you already know, Alan Wong's is one of my favorite restaurants of all time, and although I am disappointed that I can't be there for the dinner on July 29, I am pleased to confirm that I will be heading there in August with my mom to get my fix!

For the Next Generation Dinner, Chef has created a delicious 4-course menu. I couldn't decide on my favorite item to list here so click here to see the full menu with accompanying wine pairings. Michelle Karr is the Pastry Chef and her final course looks superb.

The Next Generation Dinner is a regular happening at the restaurant featuring a menu from an up-and-coming cook, with guidance from both Chef Alan Wong and Chef de Cuisine Wade Ueoka. The lucky chef has the opportunity to create their own dishes and puts together a menu that showcases their personal taste. An important piece of the menu creation is the ability to use local products and demonstrate ethnic influences found in Hawaii today, which is classic Alan Wong style.

Before working at Alan Wong’s, Chef de Cuisine Derek Watanabe worked in various hotels in Southeast Asia. During his travels throughout Thailand, Indonesia, and China, Derek learned to work with a variety of different Asian ingredients. The menu that he has created for his Next Generation Dinner features the flavors from Southeast Asia using local products on which to create contemporary twists.

The prix fixe dinner is available for $75 per person or $105 with wine pairings. Reservations are a must and you can make them by calling Alan Wong’s Honolulu, at (808) 949-2526.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Millionaires are in Hawaii!

Looking for $$? Hawaii continues to lead the nation in the percent of millionaires per overall population. A 'millionaire household' can be defined as one with $1 million or more in investable or liquid assets, excluding sponsored retirement plans and real estate. Phoenix Marketing International, a firm located in New York recently announced the number of millionaires in the U.S. has declined by 14% over the past two years. But... 6.4% of Hawaii’s households (28,363 households!) in fact are millionaires - that’s down from 7.3% in 2008 but still high enough of a percentage to lead the nation for the second year in a row!!

Rounding out the top five states in millionaires per population are:
Maryland (6.3%)
New Jersey (6.2%)
Connecticut (6.2%)
Virginia (5.5%)

There are three things about these figures about Hawaii that amaze me:

1. Hawaii is so small in population size, so how come there are so many millionaires?
2. People in Hawaii typically get paid less than on the mainland, so how can they have more money?
3. It is more expensive to live in Hawaii than most places on the mainland - so why are people wealthier?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Students: Need an Apartment to Rent in Waikiki?

How's this for a sign of the times? Hawaiian Island Homes announced last week that it will take over management of two low-rise apartment hotels in Waikiki and rent them to students.
The 70-unit Hawaiiana Hotel and 77-unit Whitesands Hotel will be managed by Hawaiian Student Suites, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Island Homes.

The rooms are 300 square feet studios with a kitchen and bathroom and open to registered students with leases available by semester, on an annual bases and during the summer. The leases will start the week before the University of Hawaii' s fall semester starts on Aug. 22. The Beachwalk Dorm at the Hawaiiana Hotel, has priced a bed in a double room at $595 per month and $925 per month for a studio, single occupancy.

Rates at the Whitesands are $925 per month for a studio, single occupancy, $395 to $595 per month based on double occupancy, and $425 to $495 per month based on triple occupancy. As is the usual standard, a security deposit, application fee and criminal background check are required.

What you may not know is that Hawaiian Student Suites currently operate dorms at Kalo Terrace, Waikiki West, Tradewinds Mauka, and Ala Moana Towers, offering more than 700 dorm beds for student rentals. So great news for students with the announcement of these new apartments, soon to be available. I used to live in Waikiki and I LOVED it! If I was a student at UH, I think I would have loved it even more! Visit Hawaiian Island Homes for more information and to sign up for one of these great apartments.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hawaii's Top Hotel? The Halekulani of Course....

It's no surprise that the Halekulani hotel has been named the number one resort in Hawaii by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. The hotel, located in Waikiki, O'ahu also ranks No. 41 on the list of World’s Best Hotels Overall. When you plan your next trip to the Islands, be sure to take a look at this hotel - you may not be able to afford to stay there but you could always have brunch at Orchids Restaurant, or for a little indulgence - dinner at La Mer Restaurant.

Halekulani’s top ranking on the list of Top 25 Resorts in Hawaii, up from fourth place in 2008, will be featured in T&L's August issue.

The annual Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards are based on the opinions of Travel + Leisure readers, who rated hotels, islands, airplanes, spas, rental-car agencies, cities, cruise lines, tour operators and safari outfitters around the world.

Other outstanding Hawaii resorts in Travel + Leisure’s Top 25 list include:

• Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kaupulehu-Kona
• Hotel Hana-Maui & Honua Spa, Maui
• Four Seasons Resort, Maui at Wailea
• Four Seasons Resort, Lanai at Manele Bay
• Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hawaii Football Fans - Colt Brennan Is Coming to Visit!

I just heard the news that Colt Brennan (former UH quarterback, now with the Washington Redskins) will be back in Hawaii for one weekend only and will be signing autographs on the following dates and times:

Saturday, July 11: Pictures Plus - Maui Marketplace (Kahului, Maui), 11am - 1pm.

Sunday, July 12: Barefoot League - Safeway Center (Kapahulu, Oahu), 2pm - 4pm.

Autograph tickets are available ONLY at Pictures Plus.

Presale tickets can be purchased in person at the Kahului and Ward Warehouse Pictures Plus locations, or on the web at

If anyone gets a picture or autograph - please send to me and I will put it on the blog. Have a great Aloha Friday and weekend!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4 Celebrations on O'ahu

Happy July 4 to everyone! While it may seem strange that I am Australian and I am getting into the American holiday spirit - I think its important to embrace the traditions of the place in which you reside. July 4 is celebrated to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Typically, people celebrate by having BBQ's, parties, picnics, going to the baseball, and with fireworks. I am not a big fireworks fan, for a few reasons:

1. The noise
2. The mess
3. The danger
4. The effect they have on animals

However, I anticipate a night of fireworks where I live and if you are in Honolulu, why not head to Ala Moana Center’s annual Fourth of July Celebration, where they have it ALL (ok, I don't think they have baseball)!

Live music at Ala Moana’s Center Stage will start at 12 noon today. At 5 p.m., Hoku Zuttermeister, Natalie Ai Kamauu, B.E.T., Pali and other contemporary and traditional Hawaiian music acts will take over the shopping center's ocean-facing parking deck for a concert leading up to the evening’s fireworks. The fireworks show is one of the 25 largest displays in the U.S.begins at 8:30 p.m., launched from three platforms at Ala Moana Beach Park, which is across the street from the mall (and where John and I got married!).

If you want more information head to the Ala Moana Center website. Have fun and most of all, be safe!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Other Side of Hawaii - The Mountains!

If you haven't been to Hawaii before, you may not know that in addition to the amazing ocean that surrounds the Islands, there are some unbelievable volcanic mountain formations to look at too. All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes erupting from the sea floor from a magma source described in geological theory as a hotspot. The volcanic activity and subsequent erosion created impressive geological features, which can be seen in the following photos. All these photos were taken on the Island of O'ahu, and in person the view is just breathtaking. No matter where you look you are surrounded with natural beauty. Another reason why living in Hawaii rocks!

When I head back for my next trip in August, I plan to take some pictures while driving down the Pali Highway, made famous by Magnum P.I., one of my mom's favorite shows (and actors)! Now that will make for some serious kodak moments.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time for a Hawaiian Summer

Summer is here and thanks to my colleague and friend Mariella Souflis I thought I would share some thoughts and pictures to get you ready for a Hawaiian summer. Although it is warm all year round in Hawaii, it gets particularly hot and humid during the summer months. I moved to Hawaii in August and at the time it felt like a heat wave. So, with that in mind, here are some tips for keeping cool this summer:
Hawaii has lots of trees - perfect for staying out of the sun while keeping warm. But remember, just because there is shade doesn't mean you are completely protected from the sun - be sure to lather on the SPF regularly.

There is no better place than Hawaii in summertime to hit the beach! The water temperature can get close to 80 degrees during August and September - which is still cooler than the outside air!
If you will be in Maui, why not check out some of the local beaches see what the keiki get up to in their own island backyard. This photo was taken in Maui with some of the cutest Hawaiian kids I have ever met.
If you head to Waikiki Beach during the summer, then you must visit Dukes Waikiki. Grab a cocktail and a bite to eat, and check out their twitter feed for the latest updates on local bands and upcoming events.
Your summer adventure would not be complete without enjoying a Hawaiian sunset. Enjoy the summer and experience all that Hawaii has to offer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hawaiian Surf and Music Expo

Today is the last day of school for many, which means that summer vacation is finally here. This is good for a number of reasons:

1. Traffic congestion will be minimal with moms staying off the road in peak hour
2. We will see the sun more than we will see rain and clouds here in Seattle
3. My trip to Hawaii is about 8 weeks away and....
4. It's time to head out for summer break and experience some cool and fun things, like the Hawaiian Surf and Music Expo!

I found out about the Hawaiian Surf and Music Expo through Twitter. Its being held on July 31-August 2 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Ward Ave in Honolulu. The surf producer of this event is Hawaii's Surf Ambassador, Clyde Aikau, who is also well known around the world as a champion big wave surfer and as an ambassador of Aloha. Clyde has had surf success at some of the big wave surf meets such as the Duke Kahanamoku Surfing Championship at Waimea Bay and the Makaha International Championship.

The Hawaiian Surf and Music Expo plans to showcase Hawaii’s and the world’s top musical and ocean related products under one roof. From ocean gear, clothing wear, crafts and souvenirs, musical products, great displays, product demonstrations, the event looks to be a fun experience for all. Although the organizers are selling this as a Trade Show, from what I understand it is open to the public and there will be plenty to see and do for adults and kids alike.

For more information you can send the organizers an email or call (808) 256-2755. Is anyone planning on attending? If so let me know if the event is a success; sadly I can't be there but I look forward to hearing all about it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For Discussion: Hand Luggage or Checked Bags?

Every time I have travelled recently, I have noticed that more and more people are taking excess hand luggage on the plane instead of checking in bags when they travel, due to the charges imposed by the airlines. It got me thinking last night while I was wide awake in bed - what is the etiquette around this and how is it enforced? From what I understand, passengers are allowed to take one personal item (e.g handbag) plus one item (bag, suit bag etc) on the plane, not to exceed 21 inches in size. Have you seen the size of a 21 inch suitcase? It is a pretty decent size bag, I almost want to say its bordering on being too big to carry on board. I am travelling to Hawaii in the next couple of months and I am trying to decide if I should just take a small suitcase on the plane, or if I should respect the space of other passengers, check in my bag and pay the $30 charge.

My gripe with this is that the majority of people who bring carry-on items into the cabin do not comply with the regulations that the airlines put in place. When we were returning from Hawaii last trip, one man had 3 suitcases - two of which he jammed into the overhead compartment and the other one was pushed under his seat and stuck out, leaving him with no leg room for the flight, and the passenger next to him had great difficulty getting in and out of her seat. Why are people allowed to do these things, and why do they do it? To save $30? That seems ridiculous and selfish.

My husband and I now always board the plane first, regardless of whether they call our aisle number to board, as we want to make sure we get the overhead compartment space above our seat. I can't tell you how many times we have got on the plane, only to find the person 5 aisles back has filled all the overhead bins with their hand luggage. Ugh, I am on a rant, but is there anyone else who is tired of this when they travel? Does anyone have any rec commendations on how to fix this problem? Or, should I just do what everyone else does and stash as much as I can above my head, and ultimately annoy the person next to me?

Ahhh the joys of travel!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hawaii Blogger Profile - Pam Mandel

I had the chance to connect with some amazing Hawaii bloggers in the last month, via email and thanks to Today, I have decided to spotlight Pam Mandel, author of Nerd's Eye View, and World Hum -- Hawaii: Holoholo Wale.

Pam currently lives in Seattle and travels to Hawaii about every two years. She started blogging in 2007 and when asked why she chose Hawaii as a subject, in her words: “I'm enchanted. Really, it's like I'm under some kind of spell. When World Hum asked me what topic I wanted to cover, in Hawaii was at the top of my list.” Her main focus is Island culture.

Pam tries to reach readers who are interested in Hawaii beyond just being tourists; she likes to target people who want to know more about Hawaiian culture, politics, and the ecosystem; independent travelers who are interested in seeing places with more than the transitory vacationers set of eyes.

When I asked Pam about how she spreads the word about her blog, she mentions that she can’t shut up about it! I love this – and the fact that she backs it up with social media channels is great too. When you are passionate about something it’s easy to talk about it. And writer’s block? Forget it, she can’t even imagine that day, and when it happens, she may move on.

Pam’s inspiration comes from the warmth and generosity of the Hawaiian people. She cares about the history of the native Hawaiians, ways to protect and share Hawaiian culture and nature, and is continually excited by Hawaii's diversity. She also has a thing for Hawaiian music (just look at her picture for proof!)

Hot topics on her blogs include politics and photos that she shares with her readers are also popular. For those who already have a blog or are planning on starting one, Pam recommends that you make time to read other Hawaii blogs and get to know the people behind them. She emphasizes, “Bring your own aloha; you'll get more than you can imagine back in return.”

Finally, I asked Pam: “If you could share one special idea/thing/thought about Hawaii what would it be?”

Her answer: “The aloha spirit is real. When you find yourself in the middle of the warmth and generosity of the people that live in Hawaii, you are experiencing the best Hawaii has to offer. Sure, the nature and the climate are near perfect, but the true marvel about Hawaii is the aloha spirit.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thanks to Pam for sharing her thoughts on Hawaii and being an awesome Hawaii blogger. More blogger profiles coming soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

O'ahu Population Is On The Rise...Slowly

According to a new study just out, the island of O'ahu will add nearly 33,000 people by 2025, with forecasts based on U.S. Census Bureau population data. I'm hoping that I am included in that number!

The projected growth rate of Honolulu and surrounding suburbs ranks 201 among 250 U.S. metropolitan areas studied by bizjournals.

Honolulu is expected to grow 3.6% from its 2005 population of 899,673 to a 2025 population of 932,587, an increase of 32,914 residents, according to the report.

What's also interesting - The Big Island is expected to grow even faster. The Hilo area ranked 37 out of 250 U.S. metro cities with a projected growth rate of 43% by 2025. The Big Island is expected to grow from 164,462 residents in 2005 to 235,367 in 2025.

To read more about this study and to see where your city ranks in population growth, visit the bizjournals website.