Benefits Of Strong Visitor Industry

Robin Graf (left), general manager of Kaua'i Beach Resort, and Doug Sears, GM of Grand Hyatt Kaua'i, celebrate after completing the Visitor Industry Charity Walk this past May. Photo from Mufi Hannemann

There’s no denying that Hawaii’s visitor industry makes invaluable contributions to the island economy, in terms of employment, salaries, tax revenues and other ways. What’s often overlooked is the support the visitor industry provides to the community.

This support takes many forms: employee involvement in community service, cooperative educational programs between hotels and schools, and projects involving Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association members and charities, to name just a few. But the largest and most extensive support comes through the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk, held each May across the state.

This past May, nearly 11,000 participants on five islands “put their best slippahs forward” for the Charity Walk, which marked its 33rd year. The walks were held on three consecutive Saturdays beginning May 7, with Molokai first, Hawaii, Kaua’i and Maui second, and Oahu last.

Kaua’i raised $137,000 this year. The funds support local organizations engaged in charitable work, meaning the funds raised on Kaua’i stay here. More than $23 million has been raised statewide during the lifetime of the Charity Walk.

Kaua’i’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk was headed by Christina Gabriel, general manager of Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club. Gabriel and her committee did an excellent job.

This year’s overall walk was chaired by Kelvin Bloom, president of Aston Hotels & Resorts, who says, “It’s an unprecedented outpouring of kindness and kokua that exemplifies our aloha spirit. A big mahalo to all of the thousands of folks who participated and gave so generously, especially considering the tough economic times.”

Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity executive director Stephen L. Spears told the HLTA, “Mahalo to all the hard-working hospitality workers who make this happen each year. Your contribution … is much more than a charitable donation; (it is) a symbol of ongoing partnership, it strengthens our community as it welcomes neighbors home. For many here on Kaua’i, home ownership is only a dream and rarely a reality, because of the cost of land and construction and a sputtering economy.

Together we have helped 103 low-income Kaua’i families improve their lives through home ownership homes built with their own hands, and supported by many volunteers and donors.”

Art Fujita, president of the Kapa’a High School Foundation board, stated, “We are delighted, overwhelmed and most appreciative for having been selected as one of 40 charitable organizations to receive funds from the Visitor Industry Charity Walk. The generosity reflected in your contribution will benefit student grants, senior projects and Project Graduation at Kapa’a High School. The Kapa’a High School Foundation is humbled by this honor, and we will continue to serve our students with great pride and dedication.”

Garden Island recipients included: Alzheimer’s Association, Aloha Chapter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu, Catholic Charities HawaiiKaua’i Community, Child & Family Service, Circles of Light, Civil Air PatrolKaua’i Composite Squadron PCR-HI073, Easter Seals Hawaii-Kaua’i, Friendship Club, Girl Scouts, Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Hale Kipa, Hawaii Children’s Theatre, Kaua’i Academy of Creative Arts, and Kaua’i Community College Nursing Program.

Also: Kaua’i Economic Opportunity Inc., Kaua’i Independent Food Bank, Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity, Kaua’i High School Academy of Hospitality & Tourism, Kaua’i Hospice, Kaua’i Search and Rescue, Leadership Kaua’i, Life’s Bridges Hawaii, Lihu’e Lutheran Church, Love the Journey, Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary, Malama Pono Health Services, Marine Corps League-Kaua’i Detachment, Mental Health Kokua, PATCH-People Attentive to Children, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Special Olympics Hawaii-Kaua’i Area, Friends of the Kaua’i Drug Court, Koloa Early School, Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division, Storybook Theatre of Hawaii; Women in Need, YWCA of Kaua’i, KPAL, and American Culinary Federation-Kaua’i.

Lynell Cabael

The Visitor Industry Charity Walk has a history and tradition of support for the community, and is just another way the travel and tourism industry helps to build a stronger and better Hawaii for all.

The 2012 Charity Walk on Kaua’i will be held Saturday, May 12. Chairwoman is Denise Wardlow, general manager of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas. For more information, visit

Lynell Cabael

Position: Restaurant Manager
Location: Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club

The Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club pool bar earns top scores in guest satisfaction, an accomplishment due largely to the leadership of restaurant manager Lynell Cabael.

Not only is Lynell noted for developing her coworkers by collaborating with them on improving operations, she takes the same approach with the Marriott’s guests, seeking their feedback on making their experience even better. She’s earned a reputation for being dedicated, responsible and hardworking, with no challenge too difficult for her to accept.

While devoted to her job, Lynell finds time to participate in community events, including the Koloa Days Parade and May Day celebration each year.

She even took up hula so she could be a part of the Waiohai’s halau that performed in Kaua’i’s Mokihana Festival.