Maui Business

Makalapua Kanuha Named “Women to Watch” Honoree by PBN

March 7, 2016, 4:32 PM HST
* Updated March 9, 2:28 PM
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Makalapua Kanuha. Courtesy photo.

Makalapua Kanuha. Courtesy photo.

Maui’s Makalapua Kanuha, director of culture at The Westin Kāʻanapali Ocean Resort Villas, was honored by Pacific Business News last week at their 18th Annual Women Who Mean Business Awards.

Kanuha was named one of 12 women who were recognized in the category “Women to Watch.”

As the director of culture at The Westin Kā‘anapali, Kanuha interacts with the resort’s associates and leadership, as well as its owners and guests.

Under her direction, she implements an ongoing cultural program into the associates’ daily lives and educates them on the proper Hawaiian protocol and customs, maintaining a presence of the Hawaiian culture throughout the resort.

Company representatives say she also plays an instrumental role in creating memorable experiences for the resort’s owners and guests. One of her many significant contributions to The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas was introducing the Pu‘uhonua Cultural Center, the first of its kind for Starwood Hawai‘i, to owners, guests and the community in December 2014.

Makapalua Kanuha at PBN Dinner

Makapalua Kanuha at PBN Dinner. Courtesy photo.


Kanuha is also working closely with the Starwood Vacation Ownership corporate team on the upcoming Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. “Her knowledge and expertise regarding the Hawaiian culture have been invaluable in the planning of this new resort on North Kā‘anapali Beach, which is scheduled to open in 2017,” the company announced.


“The impact she has made at the resort will never be truly quantifiable,” said Angela Nolan, area managing director, Hawai‘i Villas for Starwood Vacation Ownership. “She is the heart and soul of the resort and is a natural leader to both leaders and associates,” said Nolan.

In her free time, Kanuha emcees and entertains at lūʻaus, as well as conducts weddings as an ordained minister. She also volunteers her time at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Annual Pu‘u Kohola Celebration and HHLA Visitor Industry Charity Walk in Maui. She has also performed Hawaiian blessing ceremonies in island-wide events including Susan G. Komen’s Cancer Benefit “Paddle for a Cure.”

The list of organizations Kanuha supports include Hawaiian Agencies Organizations and the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. Her prior experience included work as a cultural resource commissioner for the County of Maui for five years.


“Often times, Hawai‘i is known for its wonderful year round climate, pristine beaches and stunning sunsets. But Hawai‘i offers so much more to visitors who seek to understand this dynamic culture, its people and the history. What Maka brings to our resort, its guests, associates and anyone who meets her is nothing short of memorable,” said Nolan.

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