Wednesday, October 30, 2013

News and food by Starwood Hotels & Resorts

While PR is my bread and butter job, I also have a couple of blogs (like this one) and am the editor of a Waikiki newsletter that is published 2x per month.  As editor, I sometimes receive invitations to media events and recently attended a luncheon hosted by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

The luncheon / press briefing took on the 30th floor Leahi Club Lounge (formerly Hanohano Room) of the Sheraton Waikiki (Sheraton Waikiki photo). This room has always been a favorite of mine with their glass elevator and killer views of Waikīkī Beach and Diamond Head to the left and Ala Moana and Pearl Harbor to the right.  With lots happening this was a time for us to hear updates on what’s new at Starwood’s 11 properties (4 brands:  1 – St. Regis, 1 – The Luxury Collection, 3 – Sheraton and 4 – Westin) on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, the Big Island.  

A few highlights included:

  • 50th Anniversary of the Sheraton Maui Hotel (photo from  The Sheraton Maui Hotel, the first official hotel at Kaanapali Beach Resort, opened its doors in January 1963 with a special introductory rate of $15 per night.

  • Starwood’s multi-million-dollar renovations and revitalization plans ranging from redesigned rooms and the debut of new food and beverage establishments to amenity upgrades and more to better serve the growing needs of its guests.

  • New guest amenity concept at Sheraton Waikiki.  Rather that send friends or clients a fruit basket they can’t possibly finish, you can now choose to send an amenity bag that lets them pick their own goodies and logo items. 

  • A group of new, returning and experienced chefs are creatively using locally grown produce and the finest seafood and steaks to plan exciting and diverse dining experiences at their respective restaurants.

We had the opportunity to sample items prepared by five of the Starwood Waikiki culinary team:

1st Course – Pass Hor D’ Oevures by Executive Chef Danny Chew of Rumfire

Pickled Onaga with Ginger Lime Marinade Puffed Skin Cilantro Espuma and Onsen Quail Egg Caviar, Truffle Caramelized Onion Jam.  (I wasn’t too keen about trying the Quail Egg but it turned out to be quite nice --- no photo here as I was juggling the pupus, my purse and the refreshing lychee drink)

2nd Course – Executive Chef Brett Villarmia of Sheraton Waikiki Banquets

Chilled Lemon Verbena Tomato “BLT” Soup.  Braised Bacon Gratin Charred Brussels Sprouts, Compressed Ho Farms Tomatoes.  (Creamy and delicious)

3rd Course – Chef de Cuisine Shaymus Alwin of Azure Restaurant

Kona Lobster Tail. Truffle Aioli, Meyer Lemon Preserve, Toasted Brioche, Baby Rocket, Tobiko Butter. (This was so good, I nearly asked for another serving)


4th Course – Executive Chef Darren Demaya of Kai Market:  Potato Gaufrette Crusted Sea Bass.  Braised Waianae Valley Napa Head Cabbage, Mac Nut Brown Butter.  (Excellent presentation and preparation)

5th Course – Chef de Cuisine William Chen of Beachhouse at the Moana: Hawaiian Ranchers New York Strip.  Spiced Heirloom Carrot, Big Island Hearts of Palm.  (No red meat for me but it was a great looking cut of steak)


The finale was a beautiful dessert buffet (so many choices --- I settled on the Red Velvet Cup Cake --- no photo / no calories)

For more information on Starwood Hotels and Resorts, visit their website at


Monday, October 14, 2013

Win a trip to FIJI

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts is giving away a Fiji Getaway!

As many of you know, Outrigger has expanded beyond Hawaii's shores and currently operates hotels in many Pacific destinations including Fiji --- so the lucky winner of this prize scores a free week in paradise at Outrigger on the Lagoon-Fiji.  Here's the lowdown:

Bula! It’s a Fijian greeting for hello, goodbye, welcome, love and life. Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji together are saying a hearty “Bula!” by offering a chance to win a seven-night stay at Outrigger on the Lagoon-Fiji, luxurious spa treatments at the resort’s Bebe Spa and roundtrip airfare for two, courtesy of Fiji Airways*. The Fiji Getaway Giveaway kicks off on October 8, 2013, and a winner will be selected on or about October 24, 2013. Entrants are encouraged to share the contest through the social media hashtag #FijiGetaway!

“US residents dreaming of a tropical getaway are invited to enter for a chance to stay at the beautiful Outrigger on the Lagoon, Fiji and enjoy a carefree vacation on us,” said Bitsy Kelley, vice president of corporate communications, Outrigger Enterprises Group. “With our home base in Hawaii and additional resorts in some of the most desirable tropical destinations throughout Asia, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, it’s safe to say that Outrigger knows a thing or two about paradise We take pride in offering quality accommodations with inimitable island-style hospitality,” Kelley said.

The relaxing Fiji getaway experience will start the minute travelers board their Fiji Airways flight in either Los Angeles or Hawaii. Friendly cabin crew and the elegant, relaxed décor of brand new A330s or refreshed B737 aircraft are designed to allow guests to sit back, relax, and enjoy the hospitality of one of the world’s most welcoming cultures.

“The Fiji Getaway Giveaway is a fun way to commemorate our more than 60 year history of superb service while celebrating Fiji Airways’ exciting future – including our new brand platform and increased flights from Los Angeles to Nadi,” said Stefan Pichler, CEO of Fiji Airways. “Now with six non-stop flights to Fiji from Los Angeles and three flights from Honolulu, it’s even more convenient for vacation seekers from the US to find happiness in Fiji.”

The winner and their lucky travel companion will live in the lap of luxury at Outrigger on the Lagoon-Fiji, one of the most enchanting resorts in the South Pacific. Occupying 40 acres of a calm beachfront on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu island, the resort getaway embraces the design and hospitality of a traditional Fijian village. Modern air-conditioned hotel rooms and bures (bungalows) are furnished with a full complement of guest amenities. The thatched bures feature vaulted ceilings lined with exquisite hand-painted masi bark cloth.

Sophisticated travelers seeking privacy will be pleased with the resort's new Vahavu swimming pools, bistro and banquet pavilion that cater exclusively to adult guests. Additionally, families should look no further for a Fiji resort well suited for family fun, with an impressive tropical swimming pool, activities for kids and teens, the resort’s signature Meimei nanny service, and a kids-eat-free special.

To enter the sweepstakes and for complete contest rules, visit

*Roundtrip airfare for two from Fiji Airways applies only to flights from LAX and HNL.