Celebrate mom and May at Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Maui.

Make this Mother’s Day Maui spectacular and bring a bit of the island’s to wherever you call home surprising the woman in your world with a promise of a perfect vacation at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Maui. Photo: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel

MAUI, May 13, 2012 – May brings us May Day and Mother’s Day, two special days that herald the advent of summer winds on which memories of and longings for the feel of warm sand beneath your feet and salt water breezes on your skin ride.

Make this Mother’s Day Maui spectacular and bring a bit of the island’s to wherever you call home surprising the woman in your world with a promise of a perfect vacation at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, Maui.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel sits on eleven private acres along the Ka’anapali Beach where the property enjoys the distinction of being the “the most Hawaiian hotel” by the Waiaha foundation, an honor awarded only to the hotel the best meets 100 different criteria including creating a sense of place in the property, creating and telling the Hawaiian story of the property, teach guests through literature, signage and programs about the Hawaiian heritage and teach the employees to properly pronounce and use traditional Hawaiian words when greeting and speaking with guests.

One very important distinction that guests enjoy at Kaanapali are the “little touches” that you experience but that are usually only found in the native Hawaiian home including textiles and furnishings traditionally made on the island.

Providing guests with a complete experience, a series of edutainment activities keep the young and old alike happy, learning and creating unique Hawaiian memories to treasure. 

One activity that celebrates the Month of May is the classes that not only share the story behind the lei but also how to create one.

We asked Kaanapali edutainors for some background on these traditional garlands that travelers world wide equate with Hawaiian hospitality and warmth. 

What is Lei Day and when did it start?

Lei Day happens on May 1st and is celebrated by wearing a lei. Everyone and everything is covered in leis including the statue of Kamehameha. Poet and Honolulu Star Bulletin writer Don Blanding wrote an article suggesting that the art of the lei should have its own holiday.

Shortly after, the government made Lei Day an official holiday in 1929.  

What is the significance / meaning of a lei? When is it appropriate to wear leis?

Malihini Keahi

Malihini Keahi teaches a class on lei making and history

The lei is a symbol (or a circle) of love and unending friendship. The lei should be made with these intentions, especially if it’s meant to be given to someone special. A lei should be made and worn every day.      

We use carnation flowers when we teach our lei making classes. This way guests are taught how to make leis with flowers they can find at home. We share our Hawaiian culture and this ancient tradition with our guests.   

What are the various methods for making leis? 

Here at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, we are known for our hands-on, culturally based Hawaiian classes.  We have quite a few classes, but the favorite by many of our guests is our lei making class. We teach different lei making methods including the Kui – or stringing style, Wili style (ti-leaf twining) and Haku – the braiding method.

What kind of flowers do you use to make the leis? What are the most popular?

Some flowers that can be used to make leis include Plumeria (the most favored), Pikake, Jade, Orchids, Ilima, Puakenikeni and Crown.  

A lei can also be made out of ti-leaves, which are green leaves, either frozen or ran through hot water, to make the leaves soft and pliable which are then used to twine a Kaula (rope) lei. Another style would be to take blossoms and weave or braid them into leaves and create a Haku lei, a crown style or head lei.

These are just a few styles of leis that use floral and leaves as materials. Leis can also be made with Kukui nuts, Wiliwili, certain shells and other materials.   

Lei Ceremony for guests and employees 

Here at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, we wear the Kukui lei as part of our uniform. The word ‘Kukui’ means light and we see our Kukui lei as an enlightenment of “WHO WE ARE.” We want to enlighten our Na Malihini or guests of our cultural and history while they visit us. 

In 1986, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel started the Ke Kula O Po’okela tradition. When an employee is hired they are given a black Kukui Lei and for every year they work here they receive a white Kukui to add to their lei. 

We have passed this fun tradition on to our guests. Upon their departure, they get a Kukui Nut Lei in a ceremony and we share the significance of our tradition. If they should return again, they are to bring their lei back and we add a white Kukui in the middle of their lei to signify they are part of our returning ohana or family here.  


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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