Go ahead, make a joke, any joke. Chances are that Alan Cambra has heard it already, many, many times. Over the years, the easy-going general manager of the Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel has gotten a lot of grief about his approximately 100-piece sheep collection. Cambra started his herd in the mid-’80s after a visit to Scotland, where he was unexpectedly smitten by the landscape and culture. At one point, he stopped his car along a country road and wandered through the misty pastures, spying the wooly inhabitants. Later, at a nearby village, he bought a couple of small sheep souvenirs at a gift shop.
“It was just something about that trip, being in the Highlands, loving the culture and countryside. It just kind of clicked,” says Cambra. “I got home and put the sheep on my nightstand and slowly added to my collection. I’ll pick up maybe five or six items a year.”
Curiously, Cambra has never returned to Scotland nor is he interested in any Highland-related curios. It is sheep and only sheep, which are neatly displayed inside the walk-in closet of his Hawaii Kai home and are off limits to everyone except his grandchildren. Cambra estimates that he’s spent thousands of dollars on his collection. However, he doesn’t put a monetary value on his prized possessions nor does he seek out particularly old or valuable collectibles. If a particular piece catches Cambra’s fancy, he’ll buy it.
“I get a lot of ribbing from people who know me,” says Cambra. “It’s not like me to be collecting this stuff. But it does make it easy on people during the holidays or my birthday.”