Our social media tour is fortunate to be staying at the Ritz-Carlton for a few days. Oh my, life is rough in such plush surroundings. My ocean view changes with every room I stop in. The amenities are top notch, and the aromas (from the soaps to the gardenia along the walkways, and the ocean air) are heavenly and everywhere.

I had the chance to talk with Mike Masterson, Director of Sales and Marketing, while I was at the Celebration of the Arts about why the Ritz was involved in this celebration, since it seems so, well, historically un-Ritz-like to me. He said that “you have to go back and look at our heritage. This hotel was supposed to be built (in the early 90s) closer to the beach, but early excavation revealed a burial ground. This resulted in a change to the architectural approach, recognizing the sacred place that we occupied. We wanted to acknowledge this and develop our location in the right way.”

Our Cultural Advisor Clifford Naeʻole came on at the beginning to make sure everything was done pono (doing the right thing). The hotel opened in 1992. When the hotel was built in the 90’s, all Ritz-Calton hotels around the world had lots of marble, dark woods, the same kind of pictures on the wall. Leadership of Ritz realized that the hotel needed a sense of place. The renovation in 2007 shut the hotel down for six months, in part to develop a sense of place. For example, the artwork in the halls, the petroglyphs on the wall panels in the lobby all reflect Maui specifically. Clifford made sure that the art and improvements were accurate for Maui.

Mike points out that “you can go to any sun and sand destination but it’s the culture that’s unique. This weekend, the Celebration of the Arts is about that: blending the cultures of “five diamond” with the island’s natural heritage and recognition of native culture.” (Side notes: Clifford was the first Cultural Advisor in the state. All the workers brought in for construction had to undergo a cultural sensitivity training before they were able to work on the site, and had an icon on their helmets to show that they had completed the training.)

There’s a concert in the lobby as I pass through of Ritz-Carlton employees playing guitar and ukuleles, singing, some doing the hula. Reminds me that all resources are precious in so many ways!