Archive for the ‘California’ Category

When my mom asked Kelly and me last year whether we wanted a California family vacation to Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park or money for Christmas, the answer was pretty obvious. DISNEYLAND BABY! And with that, this family vacation we had been saving for the past few years was accelerated and we, especially the kids, couldn’t have been more excited to visit the Magic Kingdom.

My family had visited quite  few times while my sister and I were younger. In fact, that’s where most of our family vacations ended up. Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios photos are abundant in our family photo albums. Kelly too had gone once with her family when she was younger, but not recently. And Ensen (almost 5) and Avery (almost 2) love watching Mickey Mouse Club. So to say the entire Kam clan was anxious, including my mom and sister who came too, would be an understatement. How have things changed? How are they the same? How many days do we spend there? Will the kids like it? Will they ride anything? Will we have as much fun as we did back when we were kids?

To give you a hint, we had a hell of a good time and the kids, Ensen especially, didn’t want the vacation to end. I didn’t either.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be blogging about our family experiences in Southern California, sharing photos and insights on things we did and learned along the way. The goal? Hopefully to provide some helpful tips/suggestions so your next multi-generational family vacation to the “Happiest Place on Earth” and beyond can be even that much more enjoyable.

So I hope you’ll come back, read, and share your comments/experiences because one thing is for sure, this family will definitely be back again and again as the kids grow up. We made some great family memories on this trip…and there are still a ton more to be made.

Much love to mom and dad for the awesome vacation! And to my sister Erin adding to the fun too!

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williek

Willie K. in his element on stage at HVCB's "Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smile" reception at The Fairmont San Francisco.

I’ve been a Willie K. fan for a long time. Ever since my Uncle Dickie made a dub of his album with that “Kachi Kachi Music Makawao” song on it a long time ago. Hanabata days kine long time ago. You know which one I’m talking about.

If you’ve seen him perform live, it’s sometimes difficult to explain Uncle Willie’s style of music. Yes, it’s Hawaiian. But it’s also a little bit rock ‘n roll, blues, opera (yes, I said opera), and sometimes Asian in sound. The man is a true entertainer and musician in every sense of both words. I’m not sure there isn’t anything he can’t do with a guitar in his hand. Some call him a guitar virtuoso and I agree. He’s also got a vocal range like no other. Willie K. is just an awesome performer. PERIOD!

So you can probably imagine how excited I was when he accepted our invitation to perform at the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s “Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smile” reception at The Fairmont San Francisco last week. He put on a show only Willie K. could. He kept the crowd engaged, dancing, and chanting “hana hou” for more. Simply put, he rocked the house (or Venetian Room if you want to be specific).

I couldn’t resist busting out my Flip Mino early in the night and capturing some of his performance. In the video below, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann gives Willie a rousing introduction before he takes the stage.

During the night, Willie also showed that he can hold his own when it comes to opera!

And finally, this is an oldie, but goodie. HVCB produced this video last year featuring Willie talking about his love of Hawaii and his beloved Lahaina Town.

So, now you know who one of my all-time favorite Hawaii entertainers is. Willie K. is amazing! But enough about me and my favorites. Who is your favorite Hawaii/Hawaiian entertainer?

-NGK

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The view from my room at The Fairmont San Francisco.

The view from my room at The Fairmont San Francisco.

It’s been about 10 years since I last visited the San Francisco Bay Area as a college youngster attending the PRSSA National Assembly with fellow classmates from the University of Hawaii. Looking back on that trip, the only things I recall were the conference itself, Fisherman’s Wharf, and drinking Guinness for the first time. Couldn’t tell you what hotel we stayed at, where we ate, who we met, and what else we did. Sad but true!

So I was excited to get back to the Bay Area this past week on business to launch the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s (HVCB) new Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smilecampaign. What’s this all about and what else did I do there? Read on.

San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor Susan Fornoff and SFGate's Hawaii Insider Jeanne Cooper.

Catching up with San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor Susan Fornoff and SFGate.com's Hawaii Insider Jeanne Cooper at the HVCB Smiles reception.

Hawaii: A Thousand Reasons to Smile

Hawaii’s second-largest market for visitors – the San Francisco Bay Area – is going to see, hear, and experience the Islands of Aloha in March like never before in a new campaign led by HVCB. This initiative is a month-long promotion throughout March that will showcase the appeal of Hawaii’s culture, natural beauty, and music to residents throughout the Bay Area through print, broadcast and online advertising, digital freeway bulletin boards, in train stations and BART cars, on ad walls in popular settings, and TV shows, including ABC’s The View From the Bay. The campaign will direct consumers to visit GoHawaii.com/LotsofSmiles, a new HVCB microsite that will engage them with interactive promotions, offer information about Hawaii events in the Bay Area, and let them plan their vacation.

To kick it all off, HVCB hosted a reception for more than 50 Bay Area media at the Fairmont San Francisco on Feb. 26 featuring the incredible music of Willie K. and the Polynesian Cultural Center, along with the delicious cuisine of Chef Jake Belmonte of The Faimont Kea Lani, Maui. Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was also there, along with HVCB and its Island Chapters. This event has been my pet project for the past couple months and it went off well. I also owe a huge mahalo to my colleague Michael Ni who traveled with me and also my team back at the office who made it happen. It was an amazing night and you can see who was there by checking out the photos on my Flickr page.

Aloha Friday Pau Hana Concerts at Gordon Biersch

In the island-style tradition of “work over, hang loose”, Hawaii’s music, cuisine, and Aloha Spirit will also be showcased in Aloha Friday Pau Hana Concerts being held at Gordon Biersch restaurants in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Jose. Each Friday in March, from 5-11 p.m., some of Hawaii’s top entertainers will perform their musical magic and Aloha Spirit, including Willie K., Raiatea Helm, Brother Noland, Mailani Makainai, Kealii Kanealii, John Cruz, Cyril Pahinui, and Taimane Gardner. Patrons will also enjoy a special menu of Hawaii-inspired cuisine and can win trips to the islands. My colleague Michael has done an amazing job putting this all together with the GB team and we look forward to seeing many smiling faces at the events.

Great meeting Nancy Brown (@nancydbrown), David Lytle (@davitydave), Amy (@cookingwithamy), and Vanessa (@amidoingokay).

Great meeting Nancy Brown (@nancydbrown), David Lytle (@davitydave), Amy (@cookingwithamy), and Vanessa (@amidoingokay).

Uptake.com and HVCB SF Blogger Meetup

Through the magic of Twitter, I’ve gotten to know Uptake’s Elliott Ng and appreciate his passion for travel. At his suggestion, he recommended co-hosting at meetup of local SF bloggers at the Hukilau restaurant on Feb. 27. It would be the last order of business before the Hawaii team headed back home. So Michael, Rebecca Pang of Stryker Weiner and Yokota Public Relations (representing Oahu Visitors Bureau), and I had the opportunity to meetup with about 20 bloggers/tweeters to talk about Hawaii and the new campaign. It was a great event pulled together by Uptake’s Pat Jenkins and Alison Osborne and I couldn’t help but take as many photos as I could which you can also find on my Flickr page.

Also found some time to “play”

While this was strictly a work visit to the Bay Area, I did manage to find some time to have just a little bit of fun. I’ve recapped most of that on my Flickr page, but also want to highlight a couple other nuggets of fun:

  • I finally had the chance to meet fellow tweep Ken Yeung in real life (IRL). He’s actually very familiar with Anthology Marketing Group having worked at Starr Seigle Communications after college before moving to the Bay Area. We stumbled upon a great little sushi restaurant – Sudachi – with great food and cheap beer for a mini-Tweetup. He’s a fellow social media explorer like me and maintaines a great blog that’s a fun and interesting read. Looking forward to tweeting up with Ken again.
  • I first had the opportunity to meet Social Media Club co-founder Kristie Wells in Honolulu last October at one of her workshops she was doing with hubby Chris Heuer. Since then we’ve managed to stay in touch via Twitter. So when the opportunity came up to have breakfast with Kristie in SF, I couldn’t pass it up. Breakfast itself at Brenda’s French Soul Food was unreal (I had the oyster scrambled eggs, potatoes, and biscuit which was phenomenal), but the conversation about social media, marketing, and life in general was incredible. Mahalo Kristie for a fun impromptu Tweetup. Only wish Chris could have been there too!

I could go on and on and on, but I’ll close here. San Francisco is an incredibly beautiful city for so many reasons. I can’t wait to get back and hope I can find a way to return soon with the family on vacation. Until then, I look forward to keeping in touch with all the great people I met. As we say in Hawaii, a hui hou (until we meet again)!

-NGK

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