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Food & Dining // Food & Beverage Focus
Jo McGarry

Dana Holck

Jo McGarry photo

General Manager and Vice President, Turtle Bay Resort and Spa

You grew up in Hawaii, moved away and recently returned. What prompted both moves? After I graduated from the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management, I wanted to see how the rest of the world lived. Like a lot of people who grow up in Hawaii, you feel at times that you have to go to the Mainland to grow in your career.

After working at some highly prestigious hotels and resorts, was it a difficult decision to come back to the Islands? (Smiles) No, not at all. Although I was approached at first about a different opportunity, once I heard that the opportunity at Turtle Bay was open, it was an easy decision to come home. My family is here, I was born and raised here, and now I’m home working among family and friends. It’s so beautiful being home!

Turtle Bay has changed so much in the years you were off-island. I think it’s almost unrecognizable to people who remember it from 20 years ago. Oh, definitely. It’s undergone and is still undergoing an incredible renovation. The entire hotel is warm, it’s open and it has beautiful views that were not as obvious before. Local people really notice a dramatic difference.

I think what’s most striking is that the resort finally feels as though it has a sense of place. It’s part of the surfing world around it … Yes, that was a no-brainer, really. The North Shore is world-renowned, so for us it made so much sense to tie into the image that was already out there and focus on waterman sports.

Neighbor Island travel has become so expensive. North Shore is a short drive into a different world without the expense of planes and rental cars. Yeah, growing up here I took the North Shore for granted, but when I lived on the Mainland I would imagine how beautiful it would be to be able to walk along the beach, to be part of the landscape here. Now that I’m back I appreciate it every day! There’s a sense of calm up here – you park your car, you walk into the hotel and you breathe a sigh of relief (smiles).

Even the website is quite relaxing. (Laughs) Yes, our new website … it really is. Everything here at Turtle Bay, from the spa to the restaurants – it’s all changing.

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