THE ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII (August 26, 2019) – Hawai‘i’s authenticity often startles first time visitors. If they expected something tame and stereotypical, they are often astounded by the rich and fragrant reality of the Islands and their immersive spirit. The mist-wreathed mountains, glittering sea caves, and rainbows that flicker just beyond reach ask each visitor to examine from an intrinsic lens: How deep do you want to go?
Mauna Lani’s Hale ‘I‘ike cultural hub is an ideal place to launch a Hawaiian journey. As home of the resort’s Living Culture department, Hale ‘I‘ike is headquarters of all things Hawaiian. Inside this welcoming space, visitors can experience a juxtaposition of Polynesia’s past and present through a collection of museum-quality artifacts and an array of stimulating activities. The guides accompanying this journey are some of the best: locals with deep aloha (love) for their island home.
Danny Akaka—affectionately known as “Uncle Danny”—is the resort’s Kahu Hānai, or knowledge keeper. Well before the resort was built, Uncle Danny swam and fished along this coast and learned its secrets. He is a true kama‘āina, child of this land. He possesses a wealth of little known facts about Kalāhuipua‘a—the ancient name of this place—and he generously shares this knowledge. Guests who sit down to “talk story” with Uncle Danny are rewarded with tales of supernatural eels, warrior kings, and his own adventurous canoe voyages.
Uncle Danny’s colleague,Ke‘ala Kadooka, has an equal enthusiasm for sharing Hawaiian history. “My passion is teaching people what Hawai‘i is truly like,” she says. As the Living Culture department director, Ke‘ala works alongside Uncle Danny to coordinate educational opportunities for guests and local school children. The third member of the team, Pi‘i Laeha, is rarely found indoors. The former Waikīkī beach boy now manages Mauna Lani’s saltwater fishponds and sea turtle program—a job that requires a blend of scientific training and indigenous intuition.
Together, the Living Culture team offers a variety of inspiring activities and events. Visitors can get a taste of ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, the native language of the Islands, or try their hand at strumming a few ‘ukulele tunes. Novice crafters will delight in making their first tī leaf lei. (Warning: once you’ve made your own lei, a store-bought lei just doesn’t compare.)
On a walking tour of the resort grounds, guests can spy into old fishermen’s caves and see petroglyphs that ancient artists carved into volcanic stone. Scientific-minded folks can practice the basics of celestial navigation and learn which plants Polynesian voyagers carried in their double-hulled canoes. For anyone curious about the moon’s phases, or the names of specific winds and rains, the opportunity to indulge that inquiry awaits.
Aside from these regular daily offerings, the Living Culture department hosts special musically inclined events that are not to be missed. Once a month, some of Hawai‘i’s most cherished musicians and story-tellers gather on the lanai of the Eva Parker Woods cottage for “Twilight at Kalāhuipua‘a,” a complimentary open-air get-together which will mark its 22nd anniversary this September. Slack key guitar players croon over loves lost and found while the full moon sends silver beams jetting across the adjoining fishpond. Surprise guests have included ‘ukulele superstar Jake Shimabukuro, acclaimed guitarist Makana, falsetto songbird Aunty Genoa Keawe, and master slack key guitarist Cyril Pahinui. The legendary Don Ho has even dropped by to sing a few songs.
Once a year, on July Fourth—known as Turtle Independence Day at the resort—guests have the heartwarming chance to help release young sea turtles into the wild. Since 1989, Mauna Lani has partnered with Sea Life Park to raise captive-born honu (green sea turtles). Pi‘i cares for these hatchlings like they are his own children. Once they grow large and healthy enough to release, off they go into the wild blue. Over the past three decades, more than 200 turtles have been released into the sea. At Mauna Lani, everyone is on a journey.
In celebration of Mauna Lani’s opening, the resort invites travelers to be among the first to experience the reimagined property and discover an incarnation of ancient wisdom and modern luxury. To commemorate the opening, the resort is extending the Mauna Lani Journeys offer, which includes a $1,000 USD resort credit that can be applied to resort experiences, dining, spa and golf.
For reservations or more information, please call 1-800-367-2323 and or visit www.aubergeresorts.com/maunalani. Follow Mauna Lani on Instagram and Facebook.