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The Hawaii Business 20 for the Next 20

(page 5 of 21)

    Photo: David Croxford

Kainoa Daines, age 32

Sales and cultural director, Queen Kapiolani Hotel

For Kainoa Daines, authentic experiences for visitors mean more than lei-making demonstrations in the hotel lobby.

Truly authentic experiences value and explain the culture that makes Hawaii unique in the world. In his job at the Queen Kapiolani and as chair of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission, Daines is focused on creating those experiences.

“A lot of what this commission had been doing became kind of misguided or misdirected,” Daines says. “People meant well, but the focus was lost. If it is not good for honoring King Kamehameha, then we are not going to be doing it anymore.”

Changes he has in mind are sometimes subtle but important. For instance, he urged that the Kamehameha Day Parade reverse its route so that it ends at the statue instead of beginning there. “By coming to the Palace, it is a chance for Hawaiians to gather and celebrate,” he says.

He is also pushing to get the Neighbor Islands more involved in the annual celebration. “The king was the king of all Hawaii, after all.”

“Kainoa is striving to bridge the gap between the visitor industry and our host culture,” says a friend, Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of Iolani Palace. “He has consistently sought for authenticity and appropriateness by the industry whenever it has used Hawaiian culture to attract visitors.”

A 1997 Kamehameha Schools alumnus, Daines graduated from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 2002. He was working in the hotel industry there when he received a summons. “An auntie of mine yelled at me and told me to get my butt home,” Daines laughs.

He returned in 2003 and worked at a variety of jobs before joining the Queen Kapiolani. He works hard to see that guests have an opportunity to do more than enjoy the beach across the street, with tours to the Queen’s Summer Palace, Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum.

“What I am trying to remind the staff at the hotel is that she is not a hotel, she is a woman.”


1. Randy Baldemor
2. James Bennett
3. Kalei Cadinha-Puaa
4. Kainoa Daines
5. Matthew Delaney
6. Mark Duda
7. Charles Hew-Len
8. Michael Kaleikini
9. Daniel Leuck
10. Jennifer Li Dotson
11. Bryan Luke
12. Wesley Machida
13. Makani Maeva
14. Cameron Nekota
15. Robert Piper
16. Carol Reimann
17. Claire Sullivan
18. Michael Tresler
19. Raymond Vara, Jr.
20. Aulani Wilhelm


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