Westin Maui celebrates May Day with Longest Lei Exchange
KAANAPALI – May Day at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa was a festival of epic proportions, celebrating the Hawaiian culture.
According to the West Side resort’s public relations director, Sumithra Balraj, hundreds of guests gathered to join in the activities held outdoors at the Aloha Pavilion.
“As May Day is also known as Lei Day, the significance of exchanging a lei was most profound, as it invokes the Hawaii spirit and the rich host culture,” Westin General Manager Tony Bruno observed.
“This unique experience included children and adults forming a human line on Kaanapali Beach fronting Westin Maui,” Balraj said, greeting each other with a fresh orchid lei.
Bruno added, “From guests to associates, families and friends, island visitors staying at neighboring resorts in Kaanapali, kama’aina residents and general public, the response we received was truly extraordinary.
“While our initial count was 491 persons prior to the start of the event,” the general manager continued, “… we surpassed our target of 500”
“An official application was submitted to Guinness World Records to set a new record with our Longest Lei Exchange event,” Balraj said.
The festivities were enriched by a special performance by 75 students and teachers from Kula Kaiapuni O Maui Ma Nahi’ena’ena, a Hawaiian language immersion school located on the campus of Princess Nahi ‘ena’ena Elementary School.
“Recognizing the importance of preserving Hawaiian culture, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa committed $2,500 to benefit the cause of the nonprofit organization Na Leo Kalele that supports this Hawaiian immersion program,” Clarita Villa, Westin human resources manager, advised.
According to Leilani Franco, spokesperson for Na Leo Kalele, “The funds we receive help towards purchasing classroom and gardening supplies as well as organize field trips for the students.”
For those unable to attend the colorful festivities, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa posted nine specialty leis designed for the resort by local lei artist Pamakane Pico.
The public can share their favorite lei digitally through social media channels using www.westinmaui.com/sharealei.
Each lei highlights the diversity of Maui’s scenic settings and experiences, featuring locations such as Haleakala, Kula, Hana, Paia, Iao Valley, Makawao, Ulupalakua, Honolua Bay and Kaanapali, Balraj said.
Keli’i Arruda, Maui cultural specialist, performed the opening chant, “Ke Lei Maila,” for the unique event. It is a standard chant, she explained, whenever you are giving or receiving a lei.
“I really liked how the event brought together our local keiki, local adults and visitors from all over,” Arruda said.
For more information, call The Westin at 667-2525.