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Emphasizing Hawaiian Values

There are many places in the world with white sand beaches, blue seas, palm trees and appealing attractions for visitors. But what makes Hawaii Hawaii is our aloha spirit and Hawaiian culture and hospitality.

Preserving and nurturing these qualities require an effort on our part, and helping with that task is the Ho’okipa Learning Center, a new program being introduced by the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association to provide training in authentic Hawaiian hospitality for visitor industry management and staff at all levels.

The Native Hawaiian Hospitality Industry was founded in 1997 by George S. Kanahele, Kenneth Brown and others to address concerns about how Native Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture were perceived and represented in tourism.

They established this nonprofit organization to advocate for the development and advancement of Native Hawaiians in tourism as an investment in future leaders and to promote the Hawaiian culture in the tourism industry through consulting and education, development of communication tools, research, and project support and coordination.

The association is the lead agency for the Hawaiian Culture Initiative of the Hawaii Tourism Strategic Plan. The Ho’okipa program is being sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Ho’okipa Learning Center curriculum has six four-module series. Examples of the modules include “Mo’olelo-Talk Story,” which explores Hawaiian mythology and its correlations with value systems, beliefs, science and medicine through stories and other mythology that are representations of our multi-ethnic environment.

Another is “History of Hawaii,” which emphasizes the importance of knowing the history of Hawaii as a means of connecting with visitors and examines the events that shaped the tourism industry.

Ho’okipa Learning Center faculty members are Native Hawaiian graduates of the association’s Ola Hawaii program and represent both the culture and travel industry.

Many hold management positions at island hotels.

Craig Anderson, general manager of the Moana Surfrider, has had his employees take similar training programs in the past.

He says, “Initially it’s a bit of a leap of faith and you do it because you know it’s the right thing to do, that investing in your associates and your employees with content that’s real is important. And we also see it in the results: Guest satisfaction scores are up, and our associate scores are up.”⌀

Information is available by calling the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association at 628-6375 or online at nahha.com/hlc.

Programs like Ho’okipa Learning Center are not only essential to preserving all that’s unique and cherished about our Hawaiian culture and heritage, but to keeping the Islands a destination worthy of its reputation.

HLTA Offers Drug Plan

The Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association has teamed up with Hawaii Rx Card to offer a free prescription assistance program to everyone living, working or traveling in the state. That’s right, free.

Since its inception, the program has saved people nearly $3 million. The Hawaii Rx Card can be used as a stand-alone benefit for the uninsured, and it also can be used for discount prescription medications that are not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. These non-covered drugs include those to treat flu and common cold symptoms, depression and other psychiatric disorders, behavioral problems, sexual wellness, fertility, smoking cessation and weight loss, among others.

Shufen Ng

The Hawaii Rx Card program offers discounts of up to 75 percent on brand and generic drugs, with average savings around 30 percent.

It’s a service worth considering for people without health insurance or those who are going without vital medication because of the cost. The program does not discriminate based on age or income. It is open to anyone and everyone, with no restrictions or eligibility requirements.

Information is available at www.hawaiirxcard.com or by calling Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association at 923-0407.


Shufen Ng

Position: Housekeeper
Location: Waikiki Resort Hotel

Housekeeper Shufen Ng is a “dream employee,” says housekeeping manager Chalida York of the Waikiki Resort Hotel.

Shufen takes guest satisfaction very seriously, and it shows in her performance. Rooms on her floor never generate complaints and her work area is always spotless. When an air-conditioner vent leaked into the closet of a guest, Shufen’s presence and comforting words alleviated the situation, to the point that guest thanked the manager for the wonderful care she had received. When a guest requested a toaster and housekeeping was out of stock, Shufen brought her own toaster for the guest. She’s escorted guests on shopping trips to help them find items they want. Returning guests now ask to be assigned to the floor she services.

Shufen Ng’s positive, cheerful approach to work, including work problems, makes her a welcome addition to the staff at Waikiki Resort Hotel. It’s no wonder she was an honoree for the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association’s housekeeper of the year award.