Monday, November 22, 2010

Paradise in Pictures

I wanted to share a few of my favorite shots from my recent vacation to Hawaii - more to follow this week.

Lagoon and Diamond Head

The View from Diamond Head

Feeding the Penguins!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bar Stools Anyone?

No, I am not selling off my furniture!  But I am doing a post for CSN stores and wanted to share with you their amazing selection of bar tables and stools that they have available online.  For those of you not familiar with CSN Stores, take a look at their website where they have over 1 million products available to purchase - you could literally spend all day window shopping!  And with Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales fast approaching, now is the perfect time to pick up a bargain or two.  Happy shopping and now I am back in Seattle, I'll be sharing my latest and greatest Hawaii adventures between now and Christmas, to help keep you (and me) occupied as the winter months finally kick into high gear.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hello from Sydney!

My vacation is flying by and Hawaii has come and gone.  I'm in Sydney right now catching up with friends and family and it has been great - the weather has really been in my favor.  Hot sunny days, balmy summer nights, and minimal rain in between.  I'd forgotten how wonderful Sydney is in the summertime, especially when you have wonderful people to share it with.

I have a ton of photos and experiences to share from my recent trip to Hawaii.  We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, and let me just say it was nothing short of spectacular.  From the room to the food to the hotel services and activities, everything was just fantastic.  Lots more to come on this shortly - once I find the cord to my camera amongst all my luggage.  But now, off to Sydney Fish Market! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hawaii Five-O - My Official Review

I had started a blog post about the new series Hawaii Five-O on CBS about 3 weeks ago, and I have to admit it was less than complimentary.  For some reason I never finished the post and now I am glad that I didn't publish it.  With the series now about 7 episodes in, I've changed my tune.  Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan star as Steve McGarrett and Danny 'Danno' Williams respectively, and have really found their groove as police partners on the show.  Initially, I felt like the show didn't reflect Hawaii as it really is (the first episode was focused on some kind of terrorist threat, which I don't believe has ever happened (nor is likely to happen any time soon).  And in this week's episode, there were locals drinking Blue Hawaii cocktails in the tropics bar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which again is not likely to be a common occurrence.  But the story lines are improving, the scenery is always a pleasure to absorb, and over 14.5 million viewers each week can't be wrong - it really is one of the better new TV shows of the fall. 

While the show is fun, take it with a grain of salt.  There are a number of scenes in the show that are not 100% accurate, and I feel like they misrepresent Hawaii in some of their episodes.  But overall, a pretty impressive job and let's hope that McGarrett and Danno stick around for Season 2.  If you haven't seen the show yet, enjoy this preview on YouTube and tune into CBS on Monday night for more.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not Long Now Waikiki

My next trip to Hawaii has sprung up rather quickly.  Last night we were trying to figure out the final itinerary in terms of activities during the trip when it occurred to me that I definitely didn't schedule enough time in Hawaii before I make my way back to Sydney, Australia for a family visit.  We are booked solid for four days straight (although I did schedule pool time and beach time in there, thank goodness).  But between dining at Alan Wongs, catching up with friends, attending a luau and celebrating at Duke's Waikiki which is where J & I first met, there isn't going to be much time left. 

I think I need to book another trip for early next year just to relax from this trip.  While it does get cooler over Christmas and New Year, it still beats the nasty Seattle weather.  The biggest challenge is finding time on the schedule to actually go! I'm thinking June, but that just seems so far away.  Let's hope it is sooner than that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Forbes Ranks Honolulu as 3rd Safest City in America

Forbes Magazine recently announced 'America's Safest Cities' - and taking 3rd spot is Honolulu, HI.  Honolulu has almost always been classified as a safe city, and I like how Forbes shared their methodology behind the results to help readers understand how they compiled the list.  Another interesting nugget that someone brought up at Blogworld last week was that many media outlets, both print and online, make up 'lists' - Best Places to Live, Best Resorts in the World etc, but don't share the methodology of how they made their decisions. It's important to share this so that people have all the facts!

You can read the complete methodology in the article (link is above).  The Top 10 Safest Cities (according to Forbes) are as follows:
1. Plano, TX
2. Portland, OR
3. Honolulu, HI
4. San Jose, CA
5.Omaha, NE
6. New York, NY
7. Santa Ana, CA
8. Anaheim, CA
9. San Diego, CA
10. Glendale, AZ

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Can't Decide on a Hawaii Hotel?

I listened in on a very interesting conference track yesterday at Blogworld hosted by John Forrest Ales, who leads communication strategies for Hilton Hotels and Resorts.  He explained some great dos and don'ts for travel bloggers who are looking to pitch travel brands, especially for free hotel stays and other activities as part of a trip you may be planning.  One key piece of advice I did like was to ask for something that you may not have otherwise been able to experience while on your trip, instead of expecting that a brand will comp your entire stay.  These companies still need to make money!

With that said, I am booked and heading to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in the next few weeks for vacation.  I always use my vacations to gather more content for my blog, and this one is no exception.  We are planning on attending the Waikiki Starlight Luau during our stay, and I have seen the penguins, flamingos and swum in the super pool so many times that I plan to email John Forest and find out what else I might be able to do during my trip.  Maybe there is some secret tour at the Hilton that I don't know about?  Or maybe I can get a room upgrade so I can have uninterrupted views of the crystal clear Hawaiian waters.  Stay tuned, I'm excited to hear what he says!

In any case, I will be doing a full review of our stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village so watch this space for more information over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bloggin' It - Vegas Style

I don't need to say it although I will - my blog has been less than impressive lately in terms of posts and content.  I just started a new job my company about 6 weeks ago and it was around that time that my creativity hit a wall and my blog took a vacation. I'm blogging today from Las Vegas - I'm at the Blogworld New Media Expo and boy have things changed since I attended this event in 2008.  Blogging is no longer for geeks - its mainstream.  Lots of different age groups are represented here at the conference and its so lovely to see a travel blogger track this year (which is where I have been spending a lot of my time so far). 

I'm hoping the conference will give me a kick in the butt and help me get back to the blogging game.  And with a trip to Hawaii less than one month away, now is a perfect time to kick into high gear!

One of the things I learned at the conference today (although its really a no-brainer) is use your own photos on your blog - its much more compelling for travel writing than taking other people's content off the Internet. You'll notice I don't have a photo on this post - because I need to get down to the strip and capture all that is Vegas on my own!  Hopefully I'll be able to share some with you early next week (yes I forgot the cord for my digital camera). 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Attend the World Premiere of Hawaii Five-O

Book ‘Em, Danno!

Save the date on Monday September 13 - Catch the world premiere of the new Hawaii Five-O at Sunset on the Beach. Score a spot on the sand early, grab some local grinds, and then watch as stars Daniel Dae Kim, Scott Caan, Alex O’Loughlin and Grace Park roll in.

When: Monday, September 13
Live entertainment, 5 p.m
Red carpet arrivals, 6 p.m
Premiere, 7:30 p.m

Where: Sunset on the Beach, Queen’s Beach, Waikiki

Although I can't attend the premiere I can't wait to watch on TV!  Are you excited for the new series?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September is Pineapple Month at Alan Wongs

The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and while many people associate pineapples with Hawaii, the exotic fruit (like most residents of Hawaii and the United States), was once an immigrant. Historical records show that the pineapple was brought from the Caribbean to the New World by Christopher Columbus and eventually found its way to Hawaii in the 1770s.

The pineapple was the symbol of hospitality back in colonial America and still is today, especially to the millions of visitors who visit Hawaii.

To celebrate this wonderful fruit, Alan Wong has officially declared September to be Pineapple Month.  Join the Alan Wong's team at their Honolulu restaurant as they prolong the summer season with new pineapple specials added to their a la carte menu all September. Start with a refreshing new pineapple libation and end with a luscious pineapple dessert.


Libations
Pineapple "Margarita"
Experience a taste of 'ole Hawaii. Fresh pineapple, a heaping scoop of Okolehao, organic lime, and a pinch of sea salt on the rim of your glass.

Bully's Drink
The "Wong Way" Pineapple Martini - Infused Svedka Vodka with fresh island pineapples.

"Celebration of Pineapple"
Refreshing thirst quencher that captures the spirit of a "pineapple cooler." Fresh pineapple juice, pineapple wine and pineapple-infused Vodka.

Locavore Pineapple "Creamsicle"
A bee-licious blend of Naked Cow Dairy Yogurt, fresh Hawaiian Crown Pineapple from Kunia, and All Hawaiian Honey. A healthy non-alcoholic smoothie.

Entrees
Lobster, Kauai Shrimp and Octopus Ceviche on Frozen Pineapple "Tiger's Milk"
A Modern Day "Shrimp Canton"
Pineapple Glazed Smoke Pork Shoulder, Pineapple Honey Mustard Relish

Dessert
"Pineapple Upside-Down Cake"
Plantation Style Pineapple Ice Cream, Caramel-Dipped "Pineapple"

For reservations please call  (808) 949-2526 and for more information, visit http://www.alanwongs.com/

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Need a Job in Waikiki? Forever 21 is Hiring!

Fashion retailer Forever 21 is holing a three-day job fair this week to hire more than 200 employees for its much-anticipated Waikiki store at Royal Hawaiian Center slated to open in November. For those not familiar with the store, the store is aimed at teen/young adults, and priced accordingly.  They have some amazing bargains - but beware, you get what you pay for and I don't expect my purchases from there to last any more than about one or two seasons!

The company is conducting open interviews this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., at Royal Hawaiian Center’s Level 4 Nightclub and Ultralounge. They are looking for retail managers, visual merchandisers, cashiers, sales associates, stockroom workers and housekeepers.

Forever 21’s three-level store next to The Cheesecake Factory (my favorite)  at Royal Hawaiian Center has been under construction for almost a year. The space previously was to be the location of Hilo Hattie’s flagship store but those plans fell apart when the company filed for bankruptcy last year.
The Los Angeles-based Forever 21 also has stores at Pearlridge Center and Ala Moana Center. The Waikiki location will be its largest in the state.

**Image Courtesy of Forever 21**

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hawaii Five-O - Casting Call!

Alohaupdate.com announced on their blog that this weekend, there is a casting call for the new CBS series Hawaii Five-O! Saturday August 28 CBS will hold an open casting call for extras to be on the show and fill the streets!  I want to go!

The casting call will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Aloha Tower Marketplace and the show is looking to cast people of all ages, races and backgrounds for upcoming shoots. Many of these roles will also be speaking parts!  OMG!

If you can bring a headshot photograph and a resume great, but its not a necessity - just be sure to bring your ID. According to the casting director, you don’t need a film or TV background to get cast. If they like your look, you will be cast!

Hawaii Five-O premieres on with a sneak preview on Monday September 13 at Sunset on the Beach at Waikiki. The CBS network premiere will be Monday September 20.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What is NonstopHonolulu.com?


A team of former Honolulu Advertiser employees who produced Metromix Honolulu for the newspaper’s website has created a website that covers food, events and nightlife on O'ahu.  This is a great resource for locals and visitors alike.

NonstopHonolulu.com launched today with photo galleries, restaurant reviews, party pictures, event listings and blogs, with a similar look and feel to Metromix Honolulu.

The new site will include many former Metromix Honolulu personalities, including Tracy Chan, Melissa Chang, Mari Taketa, Catherine Toth and Edward Morita. NonstopHonolulu.com will be cross-promoting with partners Hawaii News Now and InsideOut magazine.

You can follow the team on Twitter too: www.twitter.com/nonstophonolulu !

**Photo Courtesy of NonstopHonolulu.com**

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hawaiian Party = Hawaiian Playlist

My friends over at Lei Chic Hawaii shared a great Hawaiian playlist yesterday in preparation for Admission day. Admission Day or Statehood Day is a legal holiday in the state of Hawaii and is celebrated annually on the third Friday in August to commemorate the anniversary of the 1959 admission of Hawaii into the Union.

Here's the perfect Hawaii playlist to celebrate; more info can be found at http://www.leichic.com/

1 . “Kihei Town,” by The Throwdowns

2. “HI-808,” by Blue Scholars

3. "Two Weeks In Hawaii," by Hellogoodbye

4. “Honolulu,” by The Deadbeats

5. “Hawaii,” by Meiko

6. “Honolulu,” by Tassho Pearce a.k.a. Emirc

7. “Hawaii,” by David Singer

8. “Chinatown,” by Black Square

9. “Hawaii (Brian Wilson),” by The Queers

10. “Hats Off To Hawaii,” by The Kung Fu Monkeys

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Maui Luau

The Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the south side of Maui is adding a luau to its plethora of activities. The “Te Au Moana” luau celebrates the island of Maui with contemporary songs and hula.

The luau show is to be held at the resort every Monday, Thursday. Friday and Saturday evening starting at 4:30 p.m, where guests will witness the unearthing of the imu, or underground oven, used to steam a whole pig for the traditional luau dish of kalua pork and be offered a buffet of luau staple. The hour long show will follow the dinner. YUM!

Kamaaina rates (rates for residents of Hawaii) are $75 for adults and $38 for children (6-12 years) with free admission for children under 5 years. Regular prices (for visitors to Hawaii) are $98 for adults and $53 for children (6-12 years).

A luau (in Hawaiian, lū‘au) is a Hawaiian feast, featuring food such such as poi, kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, haupia, and beer and with entertainment such as Hawaiian music and hula. Among people from Hawaii, the concepts of "luau" and "party" are often blended, resulting in graduation luaus, wedding luaus, and birthday luaus.

In addition to this luau in Maui, O'ahu offers many different luaus, including the Waikiki Starlight Luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which I am planning on going to later this year.  I'm looking forward to the food and to learning more about Hawaiian culture in general.  Another good Luau option in on O'ahu is Paradise Cove, although sources tell me it is not as authentic as others on the Island.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anne Klein at Waikele to Close

A great place for outlet shopping on O'ahu is Waikele Premium Outlets. It's about a 30-40 minute drive from Waikiki but the shopping is cheap, and there are some great brands to choose from.  However, just announced is that women’s apparel retailer Anne Klein is closing its only Hawaii store at the Waikele Premium Outlets on August 27. This is part of a retail improvement plan for the brand, and is one of the 200 under performing stores that they are planning to close nation-wide.

Anne Klein has fewer than a dozen employees at the Waikele outlet store, and rumor has it that Waikele Premium Outlets is close to securing a new tenant for the soon-to-be-vacated space; let's hope it's an improvement on Anne Klein!  Any suggestions for what's still missing at Waikele?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Did Someone Say Coffee?

One of my favorite things in the world is coffee.  And thankfully, coffee is plentiful in Hawaii.  Did you know that Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows coffee beans?  If you get a chance, next time you visit Hawaii try and purchase some Kona Coffee - but only the bags marked 100% Kona coffee - there are many different coffee labels that claim they have Kona coffee in them, but many have 10% or less so you have to read the fine print.  The difference between 10% and 100% is substansial.

What's your favorite way to drink coffee?  I personally love espresso coffee, but there are so ways to prepare coffee, depending on your type of coffee maker. My husband prefers the drip variety, but in Australia, we are very spoiled when it comes to coffee, and drip coffee is not something that is a standard in most homes.

I just had my morning coffee from Starbucks (hey, cut the jokes, I like in Seattle) and am ready for a productive day thanks to the two shots of espresso I just ingested.  Yum!

Craft Brewers to Buy Kona Brewing Company

Craft Brewers Alliance Inc. announced on Tuesday that the company will acquire Kona Brewing Co., building on a long-standing relationship. Portland-based Craft Brewers is planning to pay $13.9 million for Hawaii's largest brewery.

At this stage, there are no major operational changes planned as a result from the most recent deal. Kona will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary and continue to own and operate its brewing facilities in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

More information about Kona Brewing Company can be found on their website.  If you haven't tried any of their fine beers, be sure to check them out - the Longboard Lager is my favorite.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Get Ready for Disney

It's still one year until the official opening, but Disney’s Aulani resort in Ko Olina in West Oahu is about to start taking reservations.  It's a vacation planner's delight!

This is the first Disney hotel that is not located near a Disney theme park. If you want to be one of the first to stay at the resort, mark your calendar on August 2, and you can get a piece of Disney history in Hawaii. The resort is scheduled to open on Aug. 29, 2011.

When completed, the resort will have 360 hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom Disney Vacation Club villas. It also will include an 18,000-square-foot spa, two restaurants, a 14,545-square-foot conference center, and 48,685 square feet of outdoor venues including pools, hot tubs, a snorkeling lagoon and a variety of programs for children. While Waikiki has a lot of great options for children, this is sure to be a treat for kids and adults alike.  See you soon Mickey!

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's Been a LONG Time...

It's been a substantial amount of time since I last wrote on my blog.  I could give you all the excuses in the world (been sick with a cold, been travelling for work, busy with my family yada yada yada) but as a reader you aren't really interested in that.  I hope that most of you visit my blog to read about Hawaii and with summer now here in the moment, I can't think of a better time of the year to head to the Islands and enjoy all they have to offer.  Summer in Hawaii is the best.  There's so much to do, and its hot hot hot.  Actually, I am still contemplating a summer trip to Hawaii as I don't think I can wait until November for the next one.  Fingers crossed.

While I was sick and doing other things besides blogging, I did make a great soup in my new Le Creuset Stock Pot that I was kindly sent as a gift from my friends at CSN Stores.  I have the photos to share once I get back home (currently I am blogging with Gogo Inflight Internet on a plane to Chicago).  Be sure to look out for the photos of the soup and maybe even the top-secret recipe in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Waikiki EDITION To Open in October

Another new hotel for me to check out! The first hotel under Marriott’s newest luxury boutique brand, EDITION, will open in Waikiki this October.

The Waikiki EDITION, a partnership between Marriott International and hotelier Ian Schrager, will open on the site of the former Yacht Harbor Tower wing of the Ilikai Hotel.

The 353 room Waikiki EDITION, designed by New York’s Yabu/Pushelberg, will also be home to a new restaurant by world-renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and an exclusive Crazybox nightclub, as well as a full-service spa, outdoor movie theater and ballroom.

No word yet on how much it will cost to stay at the hotel, stay tuned for more information!  It sounds like it will be something special!

Crazy Hawaii Volcano Images


There was a really interesting blog post on Engadget this week with a pretty intense photo and video! The United States Geological Survey's thermal camera recently captured some wild stuff over at the Kilauea volcanic caldera in Hawaii. The video has been sped up four times, and shows a 450 foot-wide vent which is usually obscured by gas fumes.The results are impressive and overwhelming. Check it out on Engadget!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Visitors, More Money? Um...No.

I really wanted this to be a win/win story but please take from it what you will.  After what seems like FOREVER, it's been predicted that Hawaii visitor arrivals and spending will continue to increase throughout the rest of the year, marking a sure sign of steady economic recovery.  Hallelujah!

The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) has estimated that total visitor arrivals to Hawaii are expected to climb 2.6% this year to 6.7 million based on stronger-than-expected international arrivals logged in the first quarter. With a combination of longer stays and higher average daily spending in the first few months of the year, this has boosted the state’s forecast for visitor expenditure growth by 4.9% to $10.6 billion in 2010, DBEDT said. 

With news like this, you would think that Hawaii residents would be rejoicing! But despite the optimistic visitor numbers, DBEDT expects hourly wage and salary jobs this year to lag behind economic recovery, not surprising really as wages in Hawaii have always been low, and many people work more than one job just to make rent each month.  Combine that with a very competitive job market (and a tough one to get into if you are not Hawaiian) and it still seems like there are many challenges ahead.

So, the good news is that more people are traveling.  Yay.  The bad news is that travel costs are likely to go back up (no more last minute cheap deals to Hawaii) and Hawaiian workers are not reaping much of the benefit as tourism starts to pick up in their backyard.  Ugh, supply and demand can work in strange ways.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Last of the Lei at HNL International

It was announced late last week that the Hawaii Tourism Authority had cut the $450,000 it set aside for greeters at Honolulu International Airport.

Honolulu was the last of the state’s major airports to have the song and hula programs that were first introduced three years ago to make positive impressions on arriving and departing visitors, and now, the Tourism Authority has decided to allocate that money to its airline development program. It will use the money to support cooperative programs with airlines designed to sustain or increase air seats to Hawaii.

Reviews for the Lei greeting program have always been wonderful.  However, due to budget restrictions (isn't it always about the money), the Tourism Authority was forced to cut funding for greetings contractors at airports on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island last fall.

This is a real shame for Honolulu International Airport.  Some of my fondest memories in Hawaii are of arriving at the airport and being given a beautiful flower lei - although I must admit it was never a random greeter at the airport!  The good news is that the lei stands at the airport where you can purchase fresh leis are still going strong.  If you are picking someone up from the airport, be sure to check out the beautiful hand-made leis and surprise your guest with some Hawaiian tradition and a warm aloha.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Get Your DVR Ready for Hawaii Five-O!

There has been a lot of talk recently about a remake of the classic series "Hawaii Five-O" and on Monday the news was confirmed for real! CBS has picked up the reboot of “Hawaii Five-O” for the fall television season, and its one that will be on my must-watch list!

And great news for the Hawaiian economy - the new version of the network’s classic cop drama that ran for 12 years, from 1968 to 1980, will be filmed entirely in Hawaii.

When I hear that Aussie stars are cast in American shows it makes me a little nervous, purely from an accent standpoint (we have all heard Nicole Kidman and Sam Worthington mix up their voices from time to time). The show has cast Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin as detective Steve McGarrett and “Lost” alumnus Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly. The cast also includes Scott Caan from “Oceans Eleven” as detective Danny Williams, “Battlestar Galactica” alum Grace Park as Kona Kalakaua, and actress Jean Smart of “24” and “Samantha Who” as Gov. Pat Jameson.  If you need to get the deets on these actors, head to IMDb for the full scoop.

The news about “Hawaii Five-O” comes as ABC prepares to wrap up its series “Lost” with a two-and-a-half-hour finale on Sunday. The castaway drama, which filmed in Hawaii for the past six years, has had an economic impact on the state’s economy worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  I'm not a "Lost" fan but my husband is; and from the amount of "Lost" viewing to be had this weekend I may need to get out of the house for most of the evening!  Bye-Bye "Lost", hello "Hawaii Five-O"!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Like Hawaiian Java? Head to the Ilikai Hotel in Honolulu!

Hawaii is home to some amazing coffee and this summer, A coffee-roasting company from the North Shore will open its first retail shop at the Ilikai Hotel.

Mt. Kaala Coffee is planning to open a shop on the lobby level of the Ilikai in a renovated unit that’s part of the Ilikai Shops. The new store will have a coffee counter, retail area and outdoor seating and will feature coffee drinks, baked goods from Signature Sweets in Wahiawa, retail products from the North Shore and Mt. Kaala’s roasted whole-bean coffee.  The roasting facility which is located in Waialua does roast beans from all over the world, including all the Hawaiian Islands where coffee is grown.

If you are heading to Hawaii this summer, be sure to stop by and check out the Hawaiian coffee - although you may want to have an iced coffee at that time of the year!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Teddy's Bigger Burgers - Store No. 4

Although I am not a meat eater, I do eat the occasional cheeseburger from time to time (and bacon if I'm desperate).  The main reason that I don't eat a lot of meat is because I became a little too interested in where my food came from, and many books and movies later, I have sworn off meat thanks to current farming practices in the United States (I'm sure its the same in many other countries as well).  Anyway, if you are in Hawaii and are looking for a good burger, you now have another option with Teddy's Bigger Burgers set to open their 4th store on Oahu, in Moiliili, on May 31.  The store will be located at 2424 S. Beretania St. in the Rainbow Vista apartments complex.

Teddy’s currently has stores in Kailua, Hawaii Kai and Kapahulu as well as in Washington state and Tokyo, Japan. In addition, a Teddy’s Bigger Burgers franchise is expected to open on Maui by the end of this year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moo! Milk Production is Up!

With the Hawaiian Islands being pretty small in size, I bet you didn't know that Hawaii has their own dairy farms!  One of the things that people always talk about is the cost of milk in Hawaii being so high, and although there are about 15 dairy farms in Hawaii, much of the milk is still imported.  The good news for Hawaii farmers however is that Hawaii milk production increased 15% in 2009 - which is the first time in 11 years the state has seen a year-over-year production increase, according to a report recently released by the USDA. In 2009, Hawaii’s total milk production was 21.3 million pounds, and milk sales increased 38% from the previous year to $7.5 million. That's a lot of milk!

When you visit Hawaii and you are in the ABC Store looking for milk, look out for Hawaii's Fresh Milk and milk from Meadow Gold Dairies of Honolulu - they are the two main labels you are likely to find.  I hadn't thought about it before but I'm sure the local milk tastes better than the imported milk - next time I visit I may have to do a taste test and find out!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Everyone Likes Lava

Iceland is not the only place that you can witness a lava eruption. The breakout of lava at Kalapana on the Big Island over the last week has caused a surge in visitors looking to get some snapshots to add to their vacation album.  While seeing lava flow in all it's glory is amazing, its not something that we can control.  One day, the lava may be flowing for all to see; the next day, not so much. 


Since last week the parking area at the end of Highway 130 has seen large crowds - all hoping to see the volcano in all its glory, but unfortunately Madame Pele has her own agenda.

Officials had to close a portion of the access road after lava crawled over the pavement. But for many, this has brought frustration as it can be hard to see the lava from a few hundred yards away.  While it may sound tempting to get close to the lava, a reminder that its HOT!  And those who trespass risk more then a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. 

If you are in the area why not call the Lava Viewing Hotline prior to your visit to check on conditions?  The number is (808) 961-8093. By calling in advance you can check to see whether it's worth the long drive to witness a lava eruption, or not, as the case may be.  During my visit to the Big Island, I was lucky enough to see lava flowing into the ocean, but was never close enough to witness the amazing red glow.  If you really want a birds-eye view, why not head out in a helicopter or charted boat?  Talk about an amazing experience.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Le Creuset - Time to Cook

In a former life I used to work at a seafood cooking school in Sydney - you may have heard of it (Sydney Seafood School @ Sydney Fish Market).  Before I started working at the cooking school I was also studying Hospitality Management at college, as I always dreamed of building my career in the hospitality industry.  While my career path has taken a slight turn, my love of food and cooking has never left my side, and when I received an email from Jason at CSN, I was so excited.  Thanks to the team at CSN I have the opportunity to select a product from one of their many different stores and write a review of the product.  I have decided to go with a Le Creuset stock pot, because not only do I love cooking soups, I love to cook in advance so that I have meals prepared during the week.  I can't wait to cook my first soup with the stockpot and will be sure to post photos of me cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

If you haven't heard of CSN Stores, they have over 200 online stores and sell anything you could ever want or need for your home, from kitchen appliances to recessed lighting!  I hope to get my lovely Le Creuset pot in the next week or so...stay tuned!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hilton Hawaiian Village - Even More Rooms!

I am still having trouble deciding on where to stay during my next trip to Hawaii.  We visit Hawaii so often that it makes sense to find a hotel chain and stick to it. We haven't done that in the past because we haven't found a hotel that we really loved, but we are getting close to making that decision.

Speaking of hotels, the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki has just announced that they will begin construction on two new vacation timeshare towers in 2013, launching an aggressive expansion that will add 550 units to the resort’s timeshare holdings by the end of the decade.  They will also be doing some renovations to the existing Rainbow Tower as well as building some new swimming pools (finally an adults only pool!) as well as a new bar/restaurant.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village’s total lodging capacity currently comprises 3,627 guest rooms, timeshare units and suites in seven towers.  The good news is that these new towers will create more jobs and offer more options for visitors to the Islands.  The photo below (courtesy of Hilton Hawaiian Village) shows the entire site with the new towers once they have been built.





I love the location of the Hilton; its next door to the Hale Koa hotel which has my favorite bar - The Barefoot Bar! Can't wait to see Rex and crew when we go back!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tropical Hello Kitty at Build-a-Bear Workshop!


Ooohhh great news for Hello Kitty fans (that includes me)! Tropical Hello Kitty has just arrived at Build-A-Bear Workshop, fresh from a tropical holiday with a sweet sun-kissed glow!  Has she been in Hawaii?  Most likely!

For a limited time, you will also receive a free Hello Kitty Diary when you buy the new Tropical Hello Kitty! This limited special offer starts today and is available in Build-A-Bear stores only. Thanks to Sanrio.com for the image!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shopper's Delight at Ala Moana Center - Seven New Stores!

Some more great news for shopaholics in Hawaii.  Ala Moana Center has just confirmed seven new retail stores, two new eateries and a travel agency to Hawaii's largest shopping complex. Woo hoo!

There are some retailers who are new to the Hawaii market! Tory Burch, offering woman's sportswear and accessories is opening in the fall; Australian-based Gilly Hicks lingerie store, owned and operated by Abercrombie is opening in July; Pandora Jewelry, known for its charm bracelets is opening in August and Q-pot, a Japanese accessory and art emporium is opening in July.  All will be open by the time I next visit the Islands!

In addition, the center has added JTB USA travel agency, which handles nearly 300,000 travelers from Japan each year, and Regis Salon, which opens in May. 

But wait! There's more! Other businesses that have recently opened at Ala Moana Center include Crocs, Island Vintage Coffee, Saigon Garden, Local Motion and Central Pacific Bank. 

News of these new stores is most pleasing for businesses and consumers alike.  Does this mean that the economy is finally starting to shift?  I hope so; I'm tired of sticking to a budget!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Census - Hawaii - Did You Forget to Mail Your Forms In?

Unless you were living under a rock, you would have heard about the 2010 US Census form that was compulsory to complete this year (and every year its conducted for that matter).  The Census is really important to complete because the results determine the amount of funding that your state receives from the federal government for infrastructure and services such as hospitals, schools and emergency services. 
Hawaii still has one of the lowest response rates for the 2010 U.S. Census, and if you haven't completed your form, expect a friendly visit from a Census Bureau representative over the next few weeks. 

As of Friday April 23, the Hawaii had a 65% response rate, tying with Oklahoma, and ranking down the bottom at no. 46 among the states.  Washington, D.C. West Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico and Alaska posted the lowest response rates.  Kinda funny that DC had one of the lowest as well!
In Hawaii, Kalama Valley in East Oahu was the most responsive area in Hawaii with an 89% response rate, while Kahauiki was the least responsive with a 14% response rate.

For every home that Census workers have to visit, it is estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers $60 to $70, according the Census Bureau. Each person who isn’t counted also costs the state about $1,200 in lost federal funds, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. 

If you haven't submitted your Census form, get it done NOW.  There's only about 10 questions = 5 mins of your day.  Its really important that Hawaii gets counted and receives the much needed federal funding it deserves to help improve the quality of life for residents and for visiting tourists.  Find out more info at www.2010.census.gov

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hawaii Facebook Pages

To stay on top of the many activities going on in Hawaii, I like to use Facebook fan pages as a way to get a quick update on the latest news.  I have a fan page Natalani Hawaii- are you a fan?


I wanted to share a list of my favorite fan pages with my readers - if you love visiting Hawaii or perhaps you are trying to find out more while planning your next vacation, take a look at these pages and become a fan (I think you now click 'like' to receive updates - I can't keep up with all the Facebook changes!)


HAWAII Magazine - This is a must for anyone interested in Hawaii.  The fan page of the popular magazine, HAWAII Magazine and its Web site HawaiiMagazine.com are for anyone who loves the Islands—whether you live here, visit us regularly or are still dreaming of doing both. The Facebook page provides links to their stories and great photos for you to enjoy as you plan your next Hawaii vacation.


Go Visit Hawaii - A fan page founded by Sheila who has made the page a community-based site. Go Visit Hawaii readers can share tips, photos, and discuss their Hawaii vacation.


MVP Hawaii - Provides readers with the latest news from the Islands.  The page regularly has discounts offers from hotels and restaurants and also shares fun facts - who knew that there was free parking at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center for 3 hours with restaurant validation!

Oahu Concierge Magazine - The Oahu Concierge Magazine is an industry publication for hospitality employees.  They provide up-to-date information on what's happening around Oahu each month, covering special events, arts, Hawaiiana, dining, and entertainment through monthly articles, an updated calendar, and more.  This is great for locals and for tourists - you want your concierge to know what's happening during your visit!

Edible Hawaiian Islands - I have recently discovered this page and find it to be a wonderful resource for all things food related in Hawaii.  Edible Hawaiian Islands is dedicated to celebrating the harvest of the Aloha State, season by season.  You can pick up their newsletter at various locations in Hawaii, or subscribe to their newsletter online.

If you have any suggestions on some great Hawaii fan pages, please share them with me!  Add your favorite page to the comments section.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Travelers Like the iPad?

I read an interesting article this morning on MediaPost about the iPad and why it might be the next 'must-have' for travelers. Writer Kevin McKenzie talks about the importance of the iPad to travelers, who up until recently have used their laptop and smartphone to stay connected. But now, consumers are looking for a greater mobile experience; they want faster downloads, quick browsing, a range of mobile applications and more entertainment options. The iPad allows travelers to check their email and stay connected to their work, but also provides users with plenty of things to play with. Read the complete article here - do you agree?

Will travelers be the first to adapt to the iPad and what does that mean for companies who are trying to reach consumers? I'm a traveler and unless the price of the iPad comes down, I'm unlikely to be joining the bandwagon any time soon. With my laptop and smartphone I can do just about anything. Combine that with some juicy gossip magazines and a Wi-Fi enabled plane ride and I don't think I would have time for the iPad! I look forward to seeing how the technology evolves and the change in consumer habits and tastes as a result.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Get Shopping at Ward Centers – Honolulu

I love to shop and have always found Honolulu to be a great shopping destination. In addition to Waikiki and the well-known Ala Moana Center, Ward Center is also a great local shopping destination, which continues to expand (great news for the economy!). To get there from Waikiki you can catch the number 8, 19 or 20 bus – or just walk from Ala Moana Center.

It is most pleasing to confirm that a number of new retailers are opening at Ward Centers this spring, adding to the more than 135 shops and restaurants at the open-air complex.

Stores to be opened are:

Abracadabra at Ward Entertainment Center: Offering embroidered baseball caps, vintage hats, handmade hats, and children’s hats, as well as jewelry, key chains and handbags.

Downtown Gifthings at Ward Warehouse: Offering personalized jewelry, eco-friendly products, stationery, and travel bags and accessories.

Jewel Flair at Ward Center: Offering jewelry from local, national and international designers.

Discount Mobile & Computer Repair at Ward Center: Offering cellular phone equipment and accessories and offering computer technical assistance and repairs done at an off-site location.

For more information and a full store directory visit the Ward Center website. Happy Friday and Happy Shopping!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How About Hawaii For Your Summer Vacation?

Summer is right around the corner for those of us in the northern hemisphere.  Are you taking time off for a well-deserved vacation?  If so, perhaps you have thought about travelling to Hawaii?

In my team here at the office, we have a number of people who love Hawaii and in fact, Erin B is taking a trip to Oahu next week, and Mariella is thinking about a trip in July.  Shelby will likely go later this year (although she is a Maui Babe) and I am also heading back in early November.  While we only have a small team (about 25 people) - we sure do love Hawaii.  Not only is it close to Seattle, but it truly is a piece of paradise. 

Is anyone else planning a trip to Hawaii this year?  I'd love to know what Island you are planning to visit!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I've Been Cheating on Hawaii - But I'm Back!

Yes its true - I took a vacation in another tropical destination! I just returned from Cancun, Mexico, and had a great time. The weather was lovely, and so was the hospitality. When I returned home from my vacation, there was a lovely Hawaiian cook book waiting on my doorstep from my friend Dawn at Watermark Publishing

With the help of Amazon Associates I can now share the product and link to purchase with you. 'Kau Kau' at first look is simply stunning and provides readers with a complete history of food in the Hawaiian Islands.  I plan to read it cover to cover and will have a review up shortly.  Right now the Amazon Associates image looks kinda sucky but I'm working on correcting that - in fact I plan to have a new blog template up shortly!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Goin’ to the Chapel…in Waikiki

One of my favorite hotels in Hawaii has recently opened Waikiki’s first beachfront chapel at the Moana Surfrider, a Westin resort and spa.

The chapel is located on the hotel’s first floor in the Diamond Head wing and is now open for business! The $3.5 million chapel is forecast to bring in 1,200 wedding couples per year, generating over $10 million in annual sales.

To date, the Moana Chapel already has over 420 confirmed wedding bookings throughout 2010. The couples are mostly overseas visitors (Japanese couples likely making up a large percentage), and the chapel plans to reach out to local couples as well.

A wedding salon has also been constructed on the second floor of the hotel, and specialized wedding banquet facilities have been built on the resort’s first and eight floors.

I love the idea of getting married on Waikiki Beach and can’t wait to check out this venue on my next visit! What do you think? Is Waikiki too touristy for a wedding? Or perhaps the ultimate Hawaii wedding experience?

**Image courtesty of About.com**

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hawaiian Friday

Do you subscribe to TrendCentral? The Intelligence Group sends out some great information on trends via email every day, on a wide range of consumer-focused topics.  This week, the team at IG called out that Hawaii is having a moment here on the mainland. From nightlife to fashion, the Polynesian vibe is infiltrating culture faster than you can down a Mai Tai. Perhaps it's the awful weather on the mainland?  Or maybe the fact that Hawaii rocks!  Some 'trends' they focused on were:

1. Tiki Bars
2. The comeback of the Ukulele (Pam @ Nerds Eye View - this should make you happy!)
3. Tropical prints

Want to learn more about the Intelligence Group and sign up for TrendCentral newsletters?  Visit their website, or find them on facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Get Rid of Jet Lag!

If you have ever done any long distance travel, it’s likely that you have suffered from jet lag at some point. The worse case I have had was when I travelled from Sydney, Australia, to Seattle, WA, via Hawaii, all in a 24 hour period. It literally took me 24 hours to recover, because I didn’t prepare and plan accordingly! I have just booked another long distance haul to Australia, and this time, I’m not taking any chances when it comes to jet lag. Here are my top three tips to help you recover quickly next time you travel:


1. Break Up Your Trip – If you are planning a long trip (i.e. to the other side of the globe), you may want to break it up with an overnight stay half way. Better yet, why not do a mini-vacation on the way to your destination?

2. While Travelling – Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine and drink plenty of water – there is nothing worse than being drunk on a 12-hour flight.

3. Upon Arrival– Stick to the local time zone. If you arrive in the afternoon, get outside and enjoy the sun, and stay up as long as you can to adjust to the time zone. If you need to nap, make sure it’s only for an hour or two, otherwise you will be out of whack for a day or two.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Hawaiian Tsunami That Wasn't

I spent a good portion of my Saturday glued to CNN, watching the continuing coverage of the possible tsunami as a result of the 8.8 earthquake in Chile.  Did anyone else do the same thing?  While the coverage was riveting and I couldn't look away from the screen, it actually started to stress me out so much that I had to leave the house, and I asked J to call me should anything bad happen.  Some of the footage indicated that people in Hawaii were literally freaking out - while others were just packing up what they could fit in their car in the hopes of waiting it out.  Take a look at this YouTube video of a cool surfer packing it all up on the North Shore just before the tsunami was supposed to hit O'ahu (Thanks tbone924)!




I'm really glad I left my house, and returned to hear that the tsumani warning had been cancelled, and that Hawaii had 'dodged' a bullet.  I was super worried about friends in Hawaii, not to mention Hawaii itself.  While I appreciate that CNN had ongoing coverage of this potential disaster, it scared me half to death, so I hate to think how the people in Hawaii were actually feeling while this was going on.  Thank goodness its over; but its a reminder of the need to be grateful for the things we have and the beauty that is earth.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Favorite Family Resort? Hilton Hawaiian Village

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa has been selected as one of the 10 best family resorts in the United States and Caribbean, according to Parents Magazine. The survey results, which will be published in the magazine’s March issue, were released yesterday.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village ranked 8th overall in the best-resorts survey, which was conducted among family travel agents and tourism boards.

Evaluation criteria included range of family activities, quality and uniqueness of supervised children’s programs, size and quality of rooms, safety factors such as lifeguards, fun features for parents, and overall financial value.  Sadly, there is a lack of presence in the top ten for west coast resorts, and many resorts selected were in overseas locations, which can make it tough if you don't have a passport.

The top 10 resorts for families according to the magazine are:

1) Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

2) The Franklyn D. Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica

3) South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island, Florida

4) Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Florida

5) Beaches, Turks & Caicos

6) Loews Coronado Bay, San Diego

7) Club Med Ixtapa Pacific, Ixtapa, Mexico

8) Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii

9) Winnetu Oceanside Resort, Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard

10) Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

For those with families, where do you like to stay in Hawaii?  Is the Hilton Hawaiian Village on your list of top hotels?  I've always loved the Hilton, not only for the location but their gorgeous wedding chapel and super cute penguins!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Drive to Hana and Hotel Hana Maui - By A Maui Blog

One of favorite Hawaii blogs is A Maui Blog - and most recently, Liza has written about her stay at hotel Hana Maui and the drive on the road to Hana.  Take a look at her great blog post here, and for all you Hawaii bloggers, be sure to add A Maui Blog to your blogroll!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blogging Inspiration

I am trying to read more blogs, websites and other travel related material, not only for blog inspiration, but to expand my knowledge in general.  There are good days and bad days; sometimes I find blogs and feel so depressed that I have such a long way to go, but other days I read things and I can put things into perspective, in terms of my writing quality and quantity. 

Today I came across this amazing blog, The Road Forks - 'where food and travel intersect'.  When I read this blog, it inspired me to want to take my writing to the next level.  Not only do I love Hawaii, I am a foodie and a world traveler at heart and I really want to be able to share more of those experiences as my life unfolds.  Seeing this blog made me realize that I just need to write about the things that are important to me, in a timely fashion, and variety is the spice of life.  While my blog will continue to be about Hawaii, I think its time for a little more in terms of travel news, travel tips, and travel inspiration.  Thanks Akila and Patrick for helping me see the light.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day for Hawaii Lovers

It's hard to believe that almost 12 months ago, our good friends Jimmy and Sammy were getting married on the beach in Hawaii.  Happy 1st anniversary you two!  With Valentine's Day approaching, I wanted to put together my top three Valentine's Day must-haves for those who either live in Hawaii, or who love Hawaii and would like some sweet treats to remind them of the Islands (husband, hint hint):

1. Flip Flops - While I would love a pair of designer flip flops, I know I would not get the most value out of them, so I prefer to go with cute designs at lower prices, and I can get 4-5 pairs per year.  My favorite designs are from Paul Frank, seen below.


2. Hawaiian Pearls - There are lots of great Hawaiian jewelry stores in Hawaii, and in fact, many of them have stores on the mainland as well. I have always wanted some fancy pearls, and I would love to get some that are either pink or chocolate in color, such as the ones below from Maui Divers Jewelry:






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. Hawaiian Lei - There's no better way to say "Aloha Au Ia 'Oe" (I love you in Hawaiian) than with a flower lei. Leis are made with a range of different Hawaiian flowers and are often made with nuts, seeds and shells for special occasions. Here's a picture of a beautiful lei, and many companies deliver to the US mainland so no excuses that you aren't in Hawaii!
 

Thanks to my friends at Orange Violet for the Valentine's Day inspiration!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Can't Keep Count of Hawaiian Vacations

After much discussion over the weekend, it looks like we have a date for our next trip to Hawaii.  It got me thinking about how many times I have traveled to Hawaii, including the times I went there with three suitcases and a green card in hand.  Whenever you travel to Hawaii, you are required to fill out a quick survey from the Hawaii Convention and Visitors Bureau, and it asks how many times you have visited the Islands.  I think on this next trip I will create a box titled: Too Many Times to Count.

Here's some of my favorite images from our most recent trip, in November 2009:

On the way to Koko Head Crater















Koko Crater, in all its glory















John at Fort De Russy Beach - with Diamond Head in the background

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sam Choy - Airline Style

Need to get your Hawaiian fix while you travel? First class and business class passengers on American Airlines traveling to and from Hawaii /Tokyo will now be offered a menu designed by Hawaii chef Sam Choy.

Choy’s menu is described as Asian-fusion — hibachi miso chicken, wok barbeque shrimp and wasabi-crusted salmon — designed to complement the carrier’s in-flight menu that includes traditional Japanese food fare. YUM!

American Airlines is one of the bigger airline carriers to serve Hawaii, with direct Honolulu-Tokyo flights operated via Japan Airlines.  This is great news for the popular chef, famous for his poke recipes and many cook books, as well as his well known restuarants in Hawaii and Guam.  To find out more about Sam Choy, visit his website.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

All Smiles at the Sheraton Waikiki


I’ve stayed at a number of hotels in Waikiki, and last year I had the pleasure of staying at the Sheraton Waikiki, located on Kalakaua Ave, next door to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. While we were only there for three nights, we had a fabulous time! Let me share my highlights:

1. The View – Wow, from our room on the 17th floor the view of Diamond Head was spectacular, and looking down from our balcony you were able to see Waikiki Beach and beyond, it was simply stunning.















2. The Restaurants – In addition to my usual favorites like Alan Wong’s, we also had dinner at Rumfire, which is on the ground floor of the hotel. Again the view was simply beautiful, and the food wasn’t bad either! The dish I had (pictured below) was asian-style chicken lettuce wraps, which were very impressive. The menu does change frequently, and you can view all their food and drink menus on their website. One small complaint – although the food and drinks were good, it made for an expensive meal –for the two of us it was over US$100 for two small appetizer dishes and two cocktails each!















3. The Location – This hotel would have to be in one of the best locations in Waikiki. Literally, the hotel is in the center of the action, and is in walking distance to everything. You can access the beach via the hotel pool area (see photo), and although there is not a lot of beachfront at the hotel, it’s a five minute stroll to Waikiki Beach or Fort De Russy Beach. The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is almost connected to the front of the hotel facing out to Kalakaua Ave, with plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and retail stores close by. In terms of location and value for money, this is by far the best Waikiki experience I have ever had.















All hotels have their weaknesses, so if you are looking for personalized service and Hawaiian hospitality, I probably wouldn’t recommend this hotel. With over 2,000 guest rooms, the hotel lobby always looks like an overcrowded train station with people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. It’s a busy hotel, and with only a small business center and limited concierge service it’s probably easier to bring your laptop and plan your own itinerary from your room (for a fee of course). Overall, the stay we had at the Sheraton Waikiki was fabulous and I would definitely recommend to other travelers. One final tip: Be sure to check the website regularly for travel specials; after we had booked our hotel, the price per night dropped by over US$80 per night and we were able to get a much better deal closer to our travel date, which we were able to update at no cost.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Pro Bowl in Hawaii this Weekend


The 2010 Pro Bowl is being held in Miami this weekend after being hosted at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii for over 30 years. The Pro Bowl hasn't been played on the mainland since the 1979 game in Los Angeles, where Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ahmad Rashad was the game's MVP. With the exception of the Pro Bowl there are no NFL games played in Hawaii, so for fans in the Islands this is a real blow.


There is one group of people unhappy about the move to Miami: the players. Rumor has it that players are disappointed that they won’t get the chance to visit Hawaii and take their well-deserved vacation. Many players take their friends and family to the Islands to relax, see the sights and enjoy the aloha spirit. In Miami, the atmosphere is very different, with many players concerned about the behavior of fans not only during but after the game. In a article on NFL.com, Roger Goodell mentioned that he was trying to raise the profile of the Pro Bowl, calling it, “a somewhat anticlimactic ending to the football season”. Isn’t the Pro Bowl about the players? At least it used to be – maybe now its all about the money.

In 2012, the Superbowl and possibly the Pro Bowl will be played in Indianapolis. I’m thinking that players who are selected for job well done in the 2011 season won’t think of the Pro Bowl as a treat when they have to trek to the mid-west in the middle of winter!

With the latest news that Brett Farve is not playing at the Pro Bowl this weekend, will you tune in and watch? Do you think moving the Pro Bowl to the mainland is a mistake?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hawaii Entertainment News - Pirates 4 and LOST Premiere!


While flipping through the TV channels over the weekend looking for something to watch, I came across one of my favorite movies filmed in Hawaii: “50 First Dates”, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. What a great movie, not only for the amazing scenery but the comedy factor as well – I always laugh and smile every time I watch it. Many movies are filmed in Hawaii each year, and rumor has it that the 4th installment of the Pirates series: “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” will begin shooting in Oahu and Kauai this summer.


In addition to movies, many TV shows are also filmed in Hawaii. For those who will be in Waikiki this weekend, why not head to the beach premiere of the final season of “LOST” on Saturday January 30 (thanks to Hawaii Blog for the details). The red carpet affair begins at 5pm, with the premiere screening starting at 6.30pm. While I'm not a "LOST" fan myself, from what I've heard this could be the season that fans have been waiting for!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ohana Waikiki West – Buyer Beware

Now is a great time to head to Hawaii and take advantage of some of the many travel deals available. I did this during Thanksgiving last year – in addition to the cheap flight, we thought we were getting a good deal on a hotel too. We stayed at the Ohana Waikiki West on Kuhio Ave, at a rate of US$79 per night, plus tax. While this sounds like a steal, let’s just say if I had paid any more than this for the room and service we received, I would have been very upset.


The Ohana Waikiki West is part of the Ohana Hotels chain, and it has some great features, like location, pool with a great sun deck, and Hawaiian hospitality. However, when I’m on vacation, I mainly use my room for sleep, showering, and catching up on the daily news. In terms of the bed, I haven’t had such a bad night’s sleep in a long time. The mattress was hard, the pillows old, and the sheets were so thin and with no comforter (only a thin quilt cover), it made for a restless night. While the shower had great water pressure, I wasn’t able to have a hot shower the entire stay. As for the TV - if the remote had worked properly, that would have been really helpful. And if that wasn’t enough, the batteries went flat in the electronic lock on our door, keeping us locked out of our room for a period of time while we waited for the maintenance team to come and repair it. Let’s just say, I have had better hotel stays in Hawaii.

My point to this story is while there are many great advertised specials at a number of Hawaiian hotels – be sure to do your research. Read reviews from other travel websites, and pay attention to the less than complimentary reviews from other travelers, in order to gain good perspective before you book. There are many hotels to choose from especially in Waikiki, so you shouldn’t have to settle for anything sub-standard. Don’t be fooled by the low prices – in my opinion, many Waikiki hotels have dropped their rates to a fair price for what they are offering.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Magic Island May Become Obama Park


I head about this a while back, but it seems Honolulu may rename a city park after President Obama.  The reason it is of interest to me: it's where J & I got married!


Resolution 351 was introduced to the Honolulu City Council in December by Councilman Todd Apo at the request of Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

The resolution calls for renaming Aina Moana Beach Park, most commonly known as Magic Island, the President Barack Obama Beach Park. The 30-acre peninsula is part of Ala Moana Beach Park near Waikiki.

Currently, city policy requires that public areas be named for a deceased individual, but exceptions have sometimes been made. A hearing for Resolution 351 has not been scheduled as yet, and frankly I am pleased.  I really don't want the place that I was married to be named after a President!  What do you think?

**Update**: The Honolulu City Council on Thursday deferred action on a bill that would allow city parks, sites and facilities to be named after President Barack Obama.  The bill’s deferral effectively shelves Council Resolution 351, proposed by Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, to rename Aina Moana Beach Park, better known as Magic Island, the President Barack Obama Beach Park.

Council members suggested Hawaiian cultural experts be consulted on whether the name change is appropriate.  Whew, close call!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

10 Questions Most Frequently Asked by Travelers

GREAT article today on MSNBC.com on common questions asked by travelers.  With the recent string of airline problems, namely bomb threats and dangerous passengers, it has us all wondering about changes to airline security measures that we need to be aware of.  I am planning an overseas trip in the coming months and although I am a regular traveler, I think it might be time for me to brush up on my knowledge relating to airline and airport security, and administrative changes in general (such as the TSA Secure Flight Program so that I don't get caught off guard. 

Enjoy this read on travel tips from MSNBC.com.  Do you have other questions about travel that you want answered?  Are you nervous about airline travel?  Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hawaiian Airlines - Another Flight Diverted

WOW - a second Hawaiian airlines flight was diverted last week due to a passenger disturbance!  HA17 from Las Vegas to Honolulu was diverted to Los Angeles International Airport early Friday morning.  It turns out that a woman was being harassed by a male passenger onboard, so the flight was diverted to LAX, where law enforcement officials met the flight on arrival and interviewed the parties. The male passenger was then removed from the plane and the flight resumed to Honolulu just over one hour later. 

Earlier in the week, two F-15 fighter jets intercepted and escorted a Hawaiian flight back to Portland, OR after a passenger allegedly disrupted the flight.  It seems like airlines are really taking these new security measures seriously.  What do you think?  Is it overkill, or time to get serious about safety?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hawaii on Sale - Again

One thing I like about living in Seattle is having the Seattle Times delivered to my house on Sunday.  Although there are many sections in the paper, I always head straight to the arts & entertainment section - which seems to have now collided with the travel section - my other favorite section.  In today's paper, there is a great read, "Hawaii on Sale" - so in case you needed an excuse to visit Hawaii over the next few months, here are some more reasons why now is a great time to head to the Aloha State. 

Expect to see travel deals to Hawaii for at least the next six months - with many of the big hotels, airlines and other travel providers hurting for revenue, they are doing what they can to lure you in, making it a win-win for both.  Take a look at today's article in the Seattle Times travel section for more details.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Natalani Says: LESS TALK, MORE ACTION!


I found myself at the end of 2009, doing a lot of talking, and not much of anything else. As my many personality profile tests indicate, I am a director in nature, a ‘red’ if you will; I just want to get the job done with as little discussion as possible and get good results at that. So what has caused me to become lazy and just sit around and jibber-jabber all day and night?


Firstly, I blame the weather. The best part of Seattle is the snow and thanks to the El Nino (or El Nina) effect, there is none this year. So all I have to look forward to is rain.

Secondly, I blame the holidays. The only thing I ever liked about Christmas was that I would get lots of presents and would be asleep at about 2pm after drinking too much wine in the sun in Sydney. Now, the presents are drying up (thanks to getting older and a mortgage) and Christmas just isn’t as fun.

Third, I blame myself, because you have to take responsibility at some point.

After an interesting discussion with someone yesterday who shall remain nameless, I realized it is time to start taking action again. I am DONE with the talking! I am ready to see results. Yes, 2010 is going to be a good year, and I look forward to what’s in store. Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Planning Vacations for 2010


While I love my job and need it to pay the bills – I sometimes think the benefit of 4 weeks of vacation is better than the job itself! Coming from Sydney, where 4 weeks of vacation is the law, I was lucky to find a company in the US that also offers 4 weeks of vacation (with the option to buy an extra week as well!). But what to do with 4 weeks’ vacation? I am a big believer of using up vacation time – after all, isn’t that what’s it’s for? I have toyed with the idea of taking off every Friday for 12 months to use up my vacation time, but does that really give you the proper break from work that you truly need. I don’t think so anyway!


This year I am all about the vacation – although the country is still in a recession, there are some small signs of improvement, and there are still big travel savings to be had. So for the traveler like me, it means that I can get some good deals and see more of the globe than I could have perhaps a few years ago. My destination list is LONG. And with my husband adding in his travel must-haves, the list is getting even longer. In fact, this weekend I am presenting my travel ‘new business’ pitch – to my husband in order to convince him of why we need to travel to so many places this year, and how I plan to pay for it. So, as a sneak peek – here are my top 10 travel destinations for 2010 (in no particular order) – and if I get to go to 5 I will be happy!

1. Mexico

2. Florida

3. New York

4. Australia

5. Alaska

6. Europe – that’s BIG – so may have to break it down a little

7. Tahiti

8. Hawaii

9. Las Vegas

10. Washington DC – Well the White House anyway



Wish me luck on the new biz pitch……

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Where's A Tropical Island When You Need One?


As I look out the window today I wish I could see a tropical island.  Not just a Hawaiian island, any island would do.  Winter in the northern hemisphere is hard to adjust to, as my body is still programmed for the southern hemisphere (well it feels like it anyway)!  I have read a lot about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and on a day like today, I think it may actually be a reality.  When will the sun shine again?  In Seattle, its hard to know.  On a tropical island, its not something I would ever need to worry about.  Here's to living in paradise once again!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review of ReboundTAG


Towards the end of last year I was lucky enough to be given a ReboundTAG to review (thanks Silvie). I used the tag during my trip to Hawaii for Thanksgiving towards the end of 2009.

It's hard to review a product when its purpose is to help you relocate your lost luggage! Thankfully, my luggage made it to and from Seattle without any problem, so its difficult to confirm if this product actually serves its purpose. Here’s what I do know though:

  • The tag is lightweight and the same size as a regular baggage tag, so it’s convenient. However, there is nowhere to write your name or any other details on the tag so you still need to put two luggage tags on your bag.

  • When you purchase the tag and sign up for the ReboundTAG tracking service, the tag comes with 3 years of service, meaning that after 3 years you have to reactivate the tag, so it can become quite costly over time.

  • I wasn’t able to find a list of airlines on the ReboundTAG website that currently have the capabilities to use the Rebound Tag should you lose your luggage, so this makes me think that perhaps the program is not yet mainstream and still needs some work.

I love the concept of the ReboundTAG, however I do think there may still be some fine tuning required for it to become more affordable and successful on an international scale. For more information about the tag, head to their website http://www.reboundtag.com/ , or you can email them at info@reboundtag.com.

If you have one of these tags, do you like it? Have you ever lost your luggage and had it returned thanks to the ReboundTAG? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.