Hawaii players win big in travel awards
Hawaii was not just well-represented among winners of this year's WAVE awards, presented by TravelAge West
magazine -- it won an award of its own. WAVE stands for Western Agents Votes of Excellence.
Hawaii was named "Best Destination for a Beach Vacation," beating out Jamaica, Mexico and Tahiti.
As reported in this space in March, travel agents in the 14 Western states and TravelAge West readers were invited to choose winners from the editors' best-of-the-best picks. Winners were announced earlier this month.
"We pride ourselves on our first-hand reports from the field," editor-in-chief Ken Shapiro said in a statement. "Our destination stories are about the on-site experience of a place and these awards are an extension of our expertise."
Ten of the 125 winners in 47 categories either live in Hawaii, have operations here or have a strong Hawaii connection.
Write-in voting was encouraged for "Favorite Individual Sales Representative." Of all the possible winners in 14 states, there was a tie and both winners represent Hawaii properties. They were, Rinda Ulbrickson, regional sales manager at ResortQuest Hawaii and Caryl Lee, senior sales manager for the West Coast for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Hawaii -- her second win in a row, said Candice Kraughto, regional director of public relations.
New York-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., won "Best International Hotel Company," and "Best Travel Agent Support," in the overall hotel category. Starwood Hawaii won "Best Travel Agent Support, Hawaii Hotel."
A former New Jersey company that established itself by bringing visitors to Hawaii, Calif.-based Pleasant Holidays, took home awards for "Best Tour Operator," overall, as well as for Hawaii and Mexico.
Hawaiian Airlines was nominated for "Best Domestic Airline," but New York-based JetBlue Airways flew off with that one.
The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa was chosen Hawaii's "Best New Property or Major Renovation"; Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa won as "Beach Resort with the Best Cross-Market Appeal," for Hawaii; and the award for "Best Resort for a Hawaiian Cultural Experience" went to the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
Writers and performers of last year's "Gridiron" variety show, who riffed on acclaim received by Italy, should know that the country won a WAVE award as the "Destination with the Highest Client Satisfaction" for Europe.
The magazine's coverage of the awards will appear in its August issue. This month, its cover story addresses Hawaii-travel myths and it can be read online.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com