When temperatures plummet across a significant portion of the globe from November through February, it’s not uncommon to experience the “winter blues” and find yourself daydreaming about jet-setting to exotic, sun-soaked locales halfway across the planet. (Seriously––“winter blues” is a real thing, according to Psychology Today.) And while transporting attendees to tropical islands isn’t always feasible on your event planning budget, there’s no reason why you can’t bring the flavors, colors and culture of one of the most popular winter destinations, Hawaii, to your own meeting.
Although the poke (pronounced “POK-keh”) phenomenon has really only started to take global hold over the past few years, according to Honolulu Magazine, cubed, raw fish seasoned in a variety of ways has a history in Hawaii that predates the days of James Cook (the British captain who invaded the islands in the late 1700s). Although chunks of tuna are the most popular type of poke, the dish extends to salmon, octopus and other sea fare, combined with avocado, onion, wasabi, soy sauce and other mix-ins. (Think of it as deconstructed sushi!)
Tangy Tropical Fruits
The only foods more prominently associated with Hawaii than its fresh seafood are the tropical native fruits that populate the islands. From papaya to mango to more exotic, funky-looking varieties like lychee and rambutan, don’t be afraid to combine two (or all!) types into a fresh plant-based breakfast or snack dish for attendees.
Party with Pork
While well-intentioned foreigners tend to associate traditional luaus with straw skirts, tropical flower necklaces and drum bands, as the Huffington Post emphasizes, the true star of a traditional Hawaiian party is the pork. Although it can be served up in a variety of ways (including the barbecued variety seen here from the Kaua’i Marriott Resort in Lihue), kalua is undoubtedly one of the most popular. The meat is rubbed with sea salt and roasted in an imu––which is essentially a big, underground steam oven. For your own pork prep, an imu certainly isn’t a requirement––any outdoor oven will do.
Focus on Foliage
From its pristine white beaches to deep pink tuna poke to lush green forests, Hawaii is a mosaic of bold colors. Although some plants you’ll likely only find on the islands (unless you export them), a number of varieties can be grown in other tropical climates, too. Pikake, for example, is a cream-colored flower with a tulip-shaped bud that’s commonly used for creating rope leis and makes for a stunning welcoming gift for attendees. Another plant worthy of adding to your arrangements? Plumeria, a blushing velvety flower spotlighted by Hawaii Magazine as the plant most commonly associated with the islands, and the bloom you tend to see tucked behind women’s ears. That accessory might look like mere fashion to foreigners, but it’s actually an indication of the wearer’s relationship status: Wearing behind the left ear means you’re taken, while right (above the heart) means you’re single. Consider swapping that logic to match your clients’ needs. For example, during a Network event, have job-seekers wear the flower behind their left ear, while employee-seekers don the floral behind their right.
Of course, if holding a destination meeting in a warm, exotic locale like Hawaii is within your event planning grasp, the Kaua’i Marriott Resort’s 27,758 square feet of meetings space––paired with the cultural and culinary additions listed above¬¬––is an ideal choice. Contact the hotel for more details.