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


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.

Friday, January 1, 2010

About Natalani

I created this blog in 2008 to help keep my dream of moving back to the Islands a reality. The site covers things to do in Hawaii, restaurant reviews, travel tips, product reviews and more. My Honolulu travel tips are also featured on Raveable.com.

If you are interested in having your product or service reviewed, or just to get in touch, you can reach me at natalie.hawaii@gmail.com or on Twitter (@natalanihawaii)