For military personnel looking to experience Hawaii, the Hale Koa Hotel, located in the heart of Honolulu, has been a popular destination.
The Hale Koa, which means “House of the Warrior,” is one of five Armed Forces Recreation Center resorts which offer Department of Defense employees a cost-efficient way to enjoy popular tourist destinations. Since its grand opening in 1975, Department of Defense employees have been coming from all over the world for a vacation in paradise.
One of the many entertainment selections they feature is a luau showcasing the culture and traditions of the Polynesian islands.
With a warm ‘Aloha’ and a shell lei greeting, a four-hour evening of Polynesian fun and culture begins. Guests can learn how to make simple crafts from the islands, traditional dance moves and the art of coconut-breaking, all while enjoying a 3-man band performing songs from around the islands.
Meanwhile, a show cast member, known as Chief Tuimauga, demonstrates the ancient skill of climbing up a tree to retrieve coconuts, leaving the crowd anticipating the show in store for them.
“I think that was one of the coolest parts of the show. Seeing him climb up the tree so fearlessly got me riled up for the rest of the night,” said Brian Thomas, a retired Marine master sergeant from San Antonio.
Once everyone has a chance to mingle and learn a bit about Polynesian culture, a traditional three-course meal is served, including a variety of salads and fruit, a wide selection of meat and fish and Hawaiian desserts.
As guests enjoy their meals, they are entertained by the sounds of local music and tidbits of Hawaiian history.
After dinner comes the most anticipated event of the night – the Polynesian revue. With extravagant, colorful costumes and traditional sounds, performers display dances that tell the history of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand and Tahiti. Glenn Madeiros, an international recording artist, acts as the host and entertains the audience with popular songs and family-friendly humor, even inviting audience members to perform with the cast onstage.
“It’s an enjoyable show for young and old. They definitely had my kids’ attention the whole time, which is hard to do,” said Brock Manner from Paletine, Ill. His brother-in-law, a former Marine, brought his family to the show.
“We have been to other shows, but they aren’t as intimate and fun as this was. I would definitely recommend this show. You get more bang for your buck,” Manner said.
Not only did the audience seem to agree the show was more than they bargained for, but the cast acknowledged the passion they put into their performance to make it memorable.
“Our show is truly unique. Not only are we here to show our military guests what the Polynesian culture is all about, but also to show them our gratitude,” said Chief Tuimauga. “They’re the ones putting their lives on the line to protect the freedom we enjoy, so we put on a great show to show them our appreciation. When we perform, we perform from the heart.”
The average number of guests in attendance usually ranges from 500 to 550 people. In the summer months, they average about 740, according to John L. Jefferis, general manager of the Hale Koa Hotel.
“Small numbers is one of the things that makes our luau so unique and special. You go to other luaus in town and they average in the thousands,” Jefferis said. “With a smaller number of people there is more room for interaction with the crowd.”
Service members in the pay grades of E-1 through E-5 pay $37.50 and all other adults pay $49.50. The cost for children ages four through 11 is $29.50.
“Our mission is to serve the DoD community and make vacations affordable for them. And the best part about it is, that what they pay here all goes toward the [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] program,” said Jefferis.
The luau is held on Mondays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. During the months of June through August, it is held at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made through the Hale Koa activities desk at (808)955-0555, ext. 546. The Hale Koa Hotel is located at 2055 Kalia Road.
For more information on the Hale Koa’s many services, you can visit www.halekoa.com.