IMG_0295Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth. This US state that when traveling from NYC takes roughly 11 hours to get to via plane is simply stunning. It is heaven on earth and a destination you need to visit at least once in your life.

Between the beautiful beaches, fresh and vibrant flowers and food, and happy Hawaiian natives, there are some trends in travel happening in Hawaii right now. Recently a taste of Hawaii came to NYC: The Ahi Poke was flown in fresh for this event, tropical cocktails were made by Julie Reiner, and an assortment of Pupu flooded the tables, made by Chef Greg Grohowski, Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. 

IMG_0294Blaine Ashley and Julie Reiner are both island girls, and brought Hawaii to NYC for an amazing evening. Julie, a top mixologist created one of a kind cocktails with tropical inspiration. These unique and flavorful creations consisted of:  

Gold Coast: Rum, Lime Juice, Pineapple, Bitters, Sparkling Wine.

The Tree House: Rye, Run, Orgeat, Bitters,

Blonde Redhead: Strawberry infused Aperol, Grapefruit, Lemon, Soda

Ginger Mint Lemonade (non-alcoholic)

To pair along with the sensational cocktails and showcase some Hawaiian favorites:

IMG_0288Ahi Poke Nachos were the star and stole the hearts of everyone at the event. These nacho’s combined guacamame, lomi lomi salsa, surfing goat chevre, tobiko and taro chips. I had the chance to speak with Blaine who explained, “This transported me right to Hawaii! Poke is my favorite food and all I eat when I’m home (in Hawaii). This was a variation of the dish. The classic recipe is: fresh cubed ahi, shoyu (soy sauce), onion and seaweed.”

Passed around while we enjoyed all the cocktails were other amazing dishes like: Maui Cattle Beef Tenderloin Tacos with Kimchi Aioli, Pork Belly Manapua with cucumber, sweet soy, sweet Maui onions, Crisp Moi with black bean sauce, green onions, cilantro and ginger, and Poi cakes with coconut bread, chevre and spicy sprouts.

IMG_0300After a belly full of Poke and tropical cocktails, we sat down to discuss some Hawaiian Travel Trends. Moderator Blaine AshleyFounder of New York Champagne Week and Hawaiian native, brought up on the East side of Oahu led us to discuss what’s hot and happening in Hawaii.

Also talking travel trends in this state were some experts in the travel industry. Experts such as Linda Cabasin, Editorial Director, Fodor’s Travel,  Alexia Conley, Curatorial Expert (, Darlene Morikawa, Director of PR & Communications, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, Spencer Spellman, Travel Content Producer and founder (, George Thronas, Cultural Advisor, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, and Kevin Yim, Senior Director Global Communications, Hawaiian Airlines all made it out just to join us… it was surely an insightful conversation! 

Here is whats “hot” in Hawaii: 

– Hawaiian Air has increased direct routes to Maui and Kauai, and now offers a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu.

– Virgin America announced a new route from SFO to Honolulu and Maui this year, with other carriers following suit.

– Mokulele Airlines is helping open up new opportunities for more visitors to experience the remote island of Molokai.

– Hawaii remains a hot spot for couples, millennials, and more! 

– Chefs have access to local ingredients like never before. Besides the well-known Hawaiian ingredients, Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers are now raising beef, venison, goats for cheese, lavender, vanilla bean, honey, and more.

– Hotels are taking advantage of their own land to grow ingredients on site: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa  features a local honeybee apiary and Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has their own hydroponic garden, which supplies over 120 pounds of lettuce to their restaurants each week.

– Set to open this year: Coral Crater Adventure Parkon Oahu, which will offer family-friendly zip lines, off-roading excursions and climbing walls.


Local festivals such as King Kamehameha Day, Lei Day, and Slack Key Festivals are happening and want you to join! Each March, Grand Hyatt Kauai and guests have the opportunity to learn more about Hawaiian crafts, arts, and herbal medicines.

– Eco-tourism and VolunteerismGrand Hyatt Kauai’s ENRICH program provides visitors with volunteer opportunities such as beach cleanups and home construction in the community.

– Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa launched their first-ever annual Maui Paddle for a Cure event: a stand up paddle and kayaking fundraising event open to resort guests and locals from beginner to expert, all benefitting the Hawaii chapter of Susan G. Komen.

Wedding trends: Local food, aromatic local oils, and island culture included in welcome wedding bags. “Naked Cakes”, pets in ceremonies, and luau rehearsal dinners all have become very popular with island weddings here.

Thank you to Blaine, Julie, and Hyatt Resort & Spas of Hawaii, who hosted this event. Thanks to the panelists for discussing Hawaiian travel trends and Chef Greg Grohowski for an amazing menu!

Will you make Hawaii a destination to visit in your lifetime?