With more than 40 years of hospitality industry experience in Hawaii and a native of Maui, HI, Clifford Nae’ole is the Hawaiian cultural advisor for The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. In this unique position for the past 25 years, Mr. Nae’ole advises and educates employees and guests on proper Hawaiian protocol and customs, shares fascinating accounts of his homeland and ancestors, maintains a presence of the Hawaiian culture in the hotel and encourages a cohesive relationship with the community.
Nae’ole was originally hired at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua as a Hotel Room Reservationist. He would serve double duty as a hotel operator and reservationist and was hired Oct 6, 1992 approximately one week before the hotel actually opened its doors. During that time, Nae’ole was a staunch student of Hula, chant and protocol. He was learning the disciplines needed to ensure that the past of Hawai’i was being preserved in contemporary times. As he walked through the hotel at its inception, he began to notice the art was very European/East Coast; the room décor lacked tropical ambiance; the employee uniforms were totally foreign to Hawai’i and the verbiage and programs were trending towards the typical fantasy of cocktails, sun, surf and commercialized hula. Looking to infuse a “sense of place” into the hotel, he began to suggest improvements to Mr. John Toner, the first General Manager of the hotel. Toner agreed with Nae’ole’s assessment and created initiatives to improve the experience of the guest, the authenticity of the host culture and the sanctity and dignity due to the ancient site fronting the hotel, the Honokahua Preservation Site. Toner, in conjunction with Yvonne Landavazo, Director of Public Relations at the time, concluded that a full time position was warranted to create the balance needed between the community, culture and commercial interests. The position was offered and Nae’ole accepted.
This position was important to Nae’ole for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important was to ensure that the historical site fronting the hotel was preserved, protected and maintained. The unearthing of the skeletal remains to build the hotel ranks in Hawaii’s history as a cornerstone of Hawaiian renaissance and the kuleana (responsibility) to oversee that site came as an honor to Nae’ole. The role of Cultural Advisor also gave him the opportunity to unite hotel employees, no matter where they are from, to be the eyes, ears and heart of a Hawaiian person. Kapalua is special indeed and if they choose to be employed here then it is imperative that they are aware that Hawaii is a place of real people and a surviving culture with incredible accomplishments. To further this effort, Nae’ole conducts mandatory Sense of Place classes for all new employees, allowing him to bring them into the fold of being responsible for all actions on behalf of the Hawaiian people.
Additionally, Nae’ole’s role of Cultural Advisor helps show visitors that the Hawaiian culture has much more to offer. Guests often come to these shores with only marketing brochures as their guideline to finding Hawaii. He hopes to help them find the path that when returning home they will question themselves and say “I need to learn more…we need to go back.” He wants to take a different approach to expose visitors to this land and teach the truth of Hawaiian history. By doing so, he invites guests to become partners in the future of Hawaii and its people through problem solving and inclusion. Only by understanding who Hawaiians were will visitors understand who Hawaiians are. He aims to touch the emotional bank of everyone that visits The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua so that they will acquire a love for these islands, even if this is their first visit or after multiple return visits. There is much more to learn if we give visitors the opportunity.
Personally, Nae’ole accepted the role of Cultural Advisor because he wants to leave a legacy. He believes every hotel should employ a full-time advisor and give that individual the power of executive decisions and the ability to speak to guests, employees and the public. Cultural Advisors should be empowered to create initiatives for the greater good while enhancing the career of the employee. He hopes that this position that will be accepted by other hotels not as a trend but as a necessity.
In this prominent role, Mr. Nae’ole has been featured in a national print and television advertising campaign for the Hawaii Convention & Visitors Bureau as well as on networks such as ESPN, E!, the Travel Channel, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Hawaiian Airlines Inflight video, “E” on Travel – Above and Below Maui – the recipient of two Emmy Awards in 2004, and more. He is considered to be the “kahu” (spiritual advisor) to the XTERRA World Championship races as well as the famed theatrical presentation Ulalena in Lahaina. In the year 2003, the Maui community named Mr. Nae’ole as one of “the people that made a difference.”
Nae’ole conducts weekly historical "Sense of Place" discussions and tours to the border of the Honokahua Preservation Site. He is chairman of Celebration of the Arts, the annual three-day festival tribute to the people, art and culture of Hawaii, which he helped to create24 years ago. A Hawaiian chanter and hula dancer, he has performed official ceremonies and traditional blessings throughout Hawai’i, Japan, French Polynesia and the mainland U.S.
“We are fortunate to be an AAA Five Diamond hotel immersed in a culture that, like a diamond, has many facets. Our programs are designed to connect the ‘hosted’ to the ‘host,’ thus enhancing the overall experience and sensitivities of all involved,” said Mr. Nae’ole.
Former president of the statewide Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Naeole’s knowledge of ceremony and protocol prompted the Governor or the State of Hawaii to approve his terms as a Burial Commissioner for the Hawaii Burial Council for Maui and Lana’i. Mr. Nae’ole received the distinguished Hawaii Hotel Association's Na Po’e Pa’ahana Honorable Mention Award for the 1997-98 Outstanding Employee of the Year. He is also the founder of Ho’ohali’a Hawaiian Consulting and is a current partner of E Ola Pono Consulting, dedicated to creating bridges between the Hawaiian culture and the contemporary business world.
Born: Wailuku, Maui, HI Oct. 10, 1952
Graduate: St. Anthony High School, Wailuku, Maui 1970
Eldest of 3 sisters (Robyn, Rochelle, Leihua) and one brother (Iokepa)
Ten years after graduation, I returned home to Honolulu from San Francisco....My first job in the industry started at the Don Ho Show in the International Market Place as a "Bar Cashier''.
Having worked in the Banking Industry both in Honolulu and San Francisco. I wanted to work in the Visitor Industry. Fortunately, after months of applications and phone calls, I was finally hired by the Sheraton Hotels as a "Front Office Cashier'' for the Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, and Princess Kaiulani Hotels. Being the junior kid on the block, my work schedule placed me at three hotels on my 5 day work week.
Eventually, ended up at the Royal Hawaiian from 1967 thru 1972 as a Front Office Cashier and Billing Coordinator for the One Time Tours. In 1972, I was promoted to handle all of the convention, one time tours, billing for the newly built Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
I was always eager to learn more about the operations of this first convention hotel in Waikiki; so after 6 years in Billing, I transferred to a one year position in the Group Reservations Department and was fortunate enough after completion of the position, the Convention Service Department had an opening for a Admin position which I applied and was fortunate to be selected.
From Admin to Ass't Convention Service Manager for 8 years under the direction of Allan Woodrow, who mentored me in all that I do today.
It was now time for me to move on and learn the aspects of sales & marketing of conventions to Hawaii. I worked at the Sheraton Waikiki thru December 30, 1995 after 29 wonderful years.
On January 2nd, 1996, I was hired by the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau to market and sell the upcoming new Hawaii Convention Center that was being built and completed in June 1998. In 2003, the MCI department at the HVCB was eliminated, thus my move the new Hawaii Convention Center, in the same position, soliciting Association & Medical Conventions to meet in Hawaii.
I have been fortunate to have made so many friends all over the US to come to Hawaii, our Islands of Aloha.
I remained in Sales and Marketing and the Client Services Manager position at the HCC for another 13 years, and retired this past December 2015 after 48 years in our great industry.
With warmest alohas to all my friends & associates!
Dave P. Evans, PhD, CHE, CHIA Professor and Department Chair
Having been born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, finding a career path in the hospitality and tourism industry seemed like a natural fit for Dr. Evans. After attending Kalani High School, he graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Travel Industry Management. After serving as a hotel manager at a hotel in Southern California near Disneyland, Dr. Evans returned home to work with Outrigger Hotels and Resorts. Dr. Evans has also served as a director of operations with Robert’s Hawai‘i and as director of marketing for a start-up national franchise operation in Hawai‘i.
He joined the Hospitality and Tourism Education department in 1994 where he has taught courses in Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism, Beverage Operations Management, Front Office Operations, Hospitality Marketing, Hospitality Management, Hospitality Law, and Tourism Destination Development and Planning. He has served as the chair of the department since 2009. Dr. Evans continued his education with a Master of Science degree in Travel Industry Management, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His research interests are in theories of leadership and motivation in higher education and the hospitality industry.
His interests include golf, tennis, landscaping and home improvement projects around the house, traveling the world with his wife Renee, and games of fetch with his Golden Retriever Riley.
The Hospitality and Tourism Education Department at Kapi‘olani Community College
The Hospitality and Tourism Education (HOST) department at Kapi‘olani Community College is a fully accredited program by ACPHA offering specializations in Hospitality and Travel & Tourism Operations Management. With a faculty that collectively has 260 years of industry experience (an average of 20 years per faculty member), theoretical concepts are brought to life through real-world, practical examples and applications. Students are engaged in classroom laboratories that are equipped with actual/live industry standard software and operational systems, as well as fully interactive “SMART” classroom technology.
Looking to the future, the HOST department has recently launched a series of third-year Advance Professional Certificate (APC) courses that will allow students to seamlessly transfer to UHWO and earn a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality and Tourism. The development of these new courses are intended to meet the changing demands and expectations of the hospitality industry with topics such as: vacation ownership operation, sustainable hospitality operations, hotel analytics & revenue management, and strategic hospitality leadership. The HOST department is especially honored to have been able to work with world-renowned tourism security expert Dr. Peter Tarlow to develop a new course for the two-year degree students on the important subject of tourism security and safety.
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