Starwood Initiates Teen Tourism Program

Kauai High Tourism Students Reach Out To Inbound Teens, Share Culture

Starwood Initiates Teen Tourism Program

It is no secret that the teen travel market is the hardest to please -- ask any parent of a teenager. While an exciting age (in theory), it's one plagued by awkwardness more often than confidence, and the will to deem anything defined popular by society (or parents), "totally uncool."

We were recently alerted to a fantastic program on Kauai, newsworthy to both in-state residents and inbound travelers to Hawaii, that is nothing short of super cool -- and we think even the most discerning teens would agree.

Junior and seniors enrolled in Kauai High School's Academy of Hospitality and Tourism have partnered with the Sheraton Kauai Resort to create a "Teen Concierge Program." The unlikely pairing reaches out to and invites visiting teenage travelers to hang out and experience Hawaiian culture with the one demographic that has a chance at being cool: Fellow teens.

During the program's debut his past December, (the program ran from the 26th to the 30th in 2006) teen guests at the Sheraton resort were invited to participate in Hawaiian food tasting, cultural Hawaiian Makahiki games, lei making, a "Surf to Sunset" luau, a big screen movie viewing under the stars and more. Tell us this example doesn't warm your heart: One afternoon, senior academy student Britney Borrero demonstrated to a handful of mainland teens how to pound poi -- explaining that she learned the act from her grandfather -- and how it's significant to both her family and culture.

The two-year Academy of Hospitality and Tourism program is aimed at high school students with an interest in pursuing careers in tourism, and is overseen by Leah Aiwohi. According to Aiwohi, 13 students began organizing the 5-day itinerary in March of 2006. After its debut in December, the group decided to tighten up the program and fit the upcoming program in to a 4-day format.

The next program will take place this month, from March 21 - 24. Again, there will be a movie screening under the stars preceded by a teen social hour, a tour of Kamakila village (with insight in to the workings of an old Hawaiian village), the Surf to Sunset luau and Makahikimgames, in addition to horseback riding. Students in the Kauai High School Academy program will also focus on marketing and advertising efforts; both as a lesson in successful tourism as well as to boost turnout for the March session.

Anyone with a teen heading to the Sheraton this March should insist on their participation in such a unique opportunity. Kudos Starwood!

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