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Director of Culture Makalapua Kanuha honored by Pacific Business News

By Staff | Apr 14, 2016

One of Makalapua Kanuha’s many significant contributions to The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas was introducing the Pu‘uhonua Cultural Center, the first of its kind for Starwood Hawaii, to owners, guests and the community in December 2014. Kanuha is pictured at left.

KAANAPALI – Pacific Business News recently honored 25 women at its 18th annual Women Who Mean Business Awards in Honolulu.

Among the class of accomplished women was Lahaina’s Makalapua Kanuha, director of culture at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas.

Kanuha was one of 12 recognized in the category of “Women to Watch.”

As the director of culture, Kanuha interacts with the resort’s associates and leadership, as well as its owners and guests.

She implements an ongoing cultural program into the associates’ daily lives and educates them on proper Hawaiian protocol and customs, maintaining a presence of the Hawaiian culture throughout the resort.

She also plays an instrumental role in creating memorable experiences for the resort’s owners and guests.

Kanuha works closely with the Starwood Vacation Ownership corporate team on the upcoming Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. Her knowledge and expertise regarding Hawaiian culture have been invaluable in the planning of this new resort on North Kaanapali Beach, which is scheduled to open in 2017.

“The impact she has made at the resort will never be truly quantifiable,” said Angela Nolan, area managing director, Hawaii Villas for Starwood Vacation Ownership.

“She is the heart and soul of the resort and is a natural leader to both leaders and associates.”

Kanuha is also extremely passionate about giving back and helping people in the community. In her free time, she emcees and entertains at luaus, as well as conducts weddings as an ordained minister.

She also volunteers her time at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Annual Pu’u Kohola Celebration and Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Maui.

She has also performed Hawaiian blessing ceremonies in island-wide events, including Susan G. Komen’s “Paddle for a Cure.”

The list of organizations Kanuha supports include Hawaiian Agencies Organizations and the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. She also served as a cultural resource commissioner for the County of Maui for five years.

“Often times, Hawaii is known for its wonderful year-round climate, pristine beaches and stunning sunsets. But Hawaii offers so much more to visitors who seek to understand this dynamic culture, its people and the history. What Maka brings to our resort, its guests, associates and anyone who meets her is nothing short of memorable,” said Nolan.

For more information on Kanuha or the Pu’uhonua Cultural Center at The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, visit www.westinkaanapali.com/activities/puuhonuaculturalcenter.