In Hawaii, there is a saying, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ’aina i ka pono,” which means “the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” While this principle may be rooted in the Hawaiian culture, the powerful meaning certainly resonates in all aspects of life, work and belief systems. Living on a remote island in Hawaii, the culture, community and richness of the land plays an integral role in tourism. While our resorts may offer the utmost in luxury, it’s truly the genuine warmth of the people that makes this destination so unique and motivates our guests to return year after year — connecting with the community and feeling invested in the island, just as I am. I like to think of this as paying it forward in paradise.
While many may categorize “voluntourism” as just a trend, on Lanai, this type of travel is here to stay. It’s a key ingredient to capturing an authentic sense of place, let alone perspective. Lending your own time and generosity allows visitors to connect on many levels, with the community, the land and, in our case, our furry friends.
The Lanai Animal Rescue Center is a perfect example. The non-profit organization whose mission is to assist animals in need and Four Seasons teamed up to create the Kokua Project, meaning ‘to help’ in Hawaiian. It gives visitors a unique opportunity to experience the island and culture by volunteering.
From families to solo travelers, everyone seems to benefit from weaving voluntourism into their travel plans. One guest shared with me that this type of experience was a dream come true and an unexpected surprise. As an animal lover and pet owner, he enjoyed the opportunity to help out and meet some of the other volunteers who lived on Lanai. He was also quick to point out that it’s very easy for any hotel or resort to do nothing — a valid point, and one that really highlights that no matter how big or small your program may be, it will make a positive impact.
So what do you say, are you ready to pay it forward?