POIPU — The Lanai Restaurant and Bar was packed at 5 p.m. Tuesday. A happy, smiling crowd clearly in a good mood and ready for fun. Most of these weren’t paying customers, but they were the kind co-owner Howard Warner was happy to have trying some of The Lanai’s food and drinks.
“It’s invaluable for us to have events like this to get the word out, especially when you’re a new restaurant like we are,” he said.
What was so important about this group was that it was comprised of concierges from resorts around the island. These are the folks who often get to know guests and tell them the best places to go and see. They arrange tours, make reservations and in general, point people where they’re probably going to spend money.
On an island where tourism is key to the economy, the concierge is often the point person that businesses want to have a relationship with.
About 75 were at The Shops at Kukuiula for the annual Concierge Night. They broke into groups and for more than four hours, toured shops, galleries and restaurants where they learned about products and services, tasted drinks and food, and met employees and business owners.
They heard about good deals and got some, too.
“This gives us an opportunity to learn what the Shops at Kukuiula has to offer so we can better advise our guests,” said Gloria Kennedy with the St. Regis Princeville Resort.
The North Shore is about a 50-mile drive from the the South Shore, but many Kauai visitors make that trek. So people like Kennedy make it their job to know about the places they’re sending them.
The Lanai served up two signature drinks, the Lanai Tai — a medley of rums, Ferrand dry curacao, Disaronno, Monkeypod jam, fresh lime and pineapple juice — and Just Landed — vodka, Disaronno, Calahua crem of coconut, pineapple juice and a handful of mint. Guests also sampled the Lanai burger, caramelized onion, brie and smoked ketchup and a few other dishes.
Warner said The Lanai prepared well for Concierge Night
“These are the people we count on day to day to drive our business,” he said.
The tour included stops at Eating House 1859 by Roy Yamaguch; Living Food Market, Cafe and Juice Bar; Merriman’s Fish House; The Dolphin Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Lounge; Savage Shrimp; Tortilla Republic; and Lappert’s Hawaii Gourmet Ice Cream, where they were treated to a cone with Kauai Pie ice cream.
Shrimp, calamari, beef, sushi, edamame and a tomato salad were several of the offerings.
Some of the shop stops included Blue Ginger, Crazy Shirts, Tommy Bahama, Scott Hanft Photography, Palms Gallery and Skyline Eco-Adventure.
Melissa McFerrin, assistant real estate manager at The Shops, led one of the groups through the tour that ended with prize drawings and final chance to recap the evening and send each concierge home happy.
“What’s great is, you all have some familiarity with the shopping center,” McFerrin said to the group.
If there are things they don’t know about what’s there — the services, the food and beverages, the products — “we want you to know them,” she said.
The annual gathering is an opportunity to meet new people; also a chance to thank the concierge crowd for its support. Those are the people who can influence where guests go.
“We hope they spend one day, one evening with us,” McFerrin said.