Destination guide: The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

International hotel chain channels the spirit of "aloha" in Hawaii

Breathtaking natural beauty, state-of-the-art facilities and round-the-clock service – you expect certain things from a luxury hotel.

The best, however, offer something unexpected. Something out of the ordinary. Something memorable.

For visitors to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua the job of providing those unforgettable experiences often falls to Clifford Nae’ole. As the “Cultural Advisor” for the Maui hotel it is his job to ensure all elements of Hawaiian culture are correctly infused with the philosophies of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

See pictures of the stunning Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua hotel here.

“We have found a perfect marriage between the hospitality of ‘aloha’ from traditional Hawaiian culture and the hospitality of elegance of our company,” explains Nae’ole. “Our philosophy is to engage our guests with the spirit of aloha, create memories and, of course, ensure the well being of all. One of our goals is to ensure that we touch the emotional bank of each guest to inspire a love for Maui, thus creating the incentive for a return guest.”

It is a strategy that is clearly working. The cultural programs at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua are considered as the benchmarks for the rest of Hawaii’s industry to follow. As the first hotel on the islands to employ a cultural advisor and work closely with community and environmental groups a respectful trail is being blazed. And it is Clifford Nae’ole at the forefront of the cultural integration.

“All artwork within the hotel is meant to inspire guest engagement in regards to the culture. The interior design of our lobby is a reflection of the welcoming of chiefs, the room key cards are reflective of Hawaiian art, the uniforms are custom designed to tell the story of the area that our hotel is located in,” says Nae’ole. Regular entertainments and artistic events encourage guests to learn more about the traditions of Hawaii.

“Our award-winning 'Celebration of the Arts' is highly regarded as the number one annual cultural event in Hawaii. Top contemporary and traditional artists, educators, entertainers and native practitioners all converge on the hotel for three days of sharing with the public. And the best luau (Hawaiian-themed party) in the state as well. ”

The skill of Nae’ole and his team comes in blending the Hawaiian traditions with the famed Ritz-Carlton standard of service. But also making sure guests are relaxed and enjoying their holiday.

The stunning surroundings of Maui make it so much easier. This is no business hotel. A 10,000 square-foot pool sits alongside a 20,000-square-foot sundeck. Two 18-hole golf courses, including the Arnold Palmer-designed Bay Course, offer spectacular views across the Pacific Ocean. A 17,500-square-foot spa and fitness centre blends the latest international trends with the healing powers of Waihua – the purest of waters from ancient Hawaiian tradition.

All the attractions are, of course, in keeping with the cultural guidelines laid down by Clifford Nae’ole. It is the island itself, however, that provides the greatest pull for the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. “For the visitor intending to tour the island, they will experience all faces of nature from ancient lava flows, white sand beaches, black sand beaches, red sand beaches, green sand beaches, dry and arid plains as well as cool meadows and rich rain forests,” says Nae’ole. The hotel’s “Ambassadors of the Environment Center” has teamed up with famed environmentalist Jean Michelle Coustaeu to allow guests sustainable access to the many natural wonders. A weekly hike known as “Na mea makamae…the treasures if Hawaii” guides visitors around the hotel’s surrounding areas.

See pictures of the stunning Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua hotel here.

There is the chance, of course, that visitors will want to do just nothing. And following a recent $180m refurbishment the hotel is well placed for just that. The 463 remodeled guest rooms are equipped with the latest modern conveniences and well-appointed restaurants mean visitors don’t need to leave the resort to experience the best of Hawaii.

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