3 April 2014

Innkeepers Kitchen: Banana, Cinnamon Muffins

BY meghan

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The rain came in big waves this weekend at Volcano Village Lodge. I had the fire going continuously and decided to aid the cold travelers with fresh banana, cinnamon muffins. The aroma of bananas, cinnamon, and sugar filled the lodge. Many guests took the muffins bake to their room to relax by the fireplaces.

Since sharing is caring and these muffins are now in high demand, I wanted to get this recipe out to people.

Banana Cinnamon Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes                     Cook Time: 20 -25 minutes

Serving: 24

Ingredients:

Banana Bread:

6  over-ripe bananas, smashed*

2/3 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

*If using apple banana triple the amount of bananas

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon Top:

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put muffin cups in muffin tray

Mix the mashed bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together with a beater until creamy.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together in a separate bowl then mix well. Gently add the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

Pour batter into muffin cups, evenly distributing among the 24 cups. Generously sprinkle cinnamon sugar combination on top of muffin batter. Let sit for at least 5, preferably 10 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven then let it cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve with butter if desired. Enjoy!

31 March 2014

Volcano Village Lodge Media Blitz with BIVB

BY meghan

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Message From Emma Spencer Living

We want to thank Kristin Jackson and the Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB) for arranging our media blitz to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Kristin is based in Hawaii and is a big promoter of Volcano Village Lodge.

“We met with newspapers, magazines, and bloggers,” Kristin said.  ”Every time I pulled out pictures of our rainforest lodge, the energy level increased. People were blown away by what our former guests already know.” One thing that the various media mentioned is the trend for travelers to search out what we like to call, “Unique Lodging Experiences.”

At Volcano Village Lodge and at all Emma Spencer Living properties, we strive to provide all of our guests with quality and memorable vacation experience in a unique lodging setting.

We will keep you posted on any media stories that come from the media tour. Again, a big thank you to Kristin Jackson and the BIVB!

31 March 2014

Big Island Visitors Bureau Media Blitz: Pictures From the Trip

BY meghan

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Mahalo again for all who helped organize this fun and informative trip. We look forward to many more media opportunities. Mahalo nui for the support! To read the full article click here.

Fresh Crab Sandwiches- San Francisco

Fresh Crab Sandwiches- San Francisco

Fresh Crab at the Local Farmers Market- San Francisco

Fresh Crab at the Local Farmers Market- San Francisco

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Boats at the Wharf-San Francisco

Boats at the Wharf-San Francisco

Fresh Sourdough Bread-San Francisco

Fresh Sourdough Bread-San Francisco

Iconic Fisherman's Wharf

Iconic Fisherman’s Wharf

26 March 2014

Prince Kuhio Day

BY meghan

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March 26 1871, the last Hawaiian prince was born before the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown. Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole was born on the island of Kauai.

Prince Kuhio

Prince Kuhio

While born into Hawaiian nobility, he wasn’t supposed to become prince of Hawaii. In 1874 the descendants of the House of Kamehameha passed away, leaving Hawaii in the power of King Kalakaua and his wife Queen Kapi’olani. Queen Kapi’olani was Kuhio’s maternal aunt and became his hanai (adopted) family after Kuhio’s parents passed away. When King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi’olani passed away, Queen Lili’uokalani (Kalakaua’s sister) ruled the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1891.

Queen Lili’uokalani highly favored Kuhio and made him heir to the throne in 1988 after her own daughter passed away at the age of 23. Unfortunately, during that time Hawaii was becoming of high interest to many countries around the world. In 1893 Hawaii was overthrown and a republic, mainly of US citizens, was formed. Their main rule… No Monarchs. Eventually, Hawaii became a US Territory in 1898 and the 50th state in 1959.

State Flag of Hawaii

State Flag of Hawaii

So that’s the history leading up to Prince Kuhio, so why does he have a state holiday named after him?

After many years of traveling around the United States and Africa, Kuhio eventually returned home. In 1903 Kuhio was elected into the U.S. Congress, where he instituted local government that had Hawaiian appointees. This was a way for Hawaiians to rule and govern lands and keep Hawaiian culture alive.  Kuhio served as a delegate until he died in 1922.

However, his biggest achievement was probably the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921. This law set aside over 200,00 acres of land and stated that only Native Hawaiians were entitled to this land at a low cost. Basically, Kuhio wanted Hawaiians to have their land to perpetuate the values and traditions of the Hawaiian culture.

Waterfalls in Waimanu Valley

Waterfalls in Waimanu Valley

Today some of that land is still unused. For example, on the island of Hawaii, Waimanu Valley is uninhabited.

So after the years of turmoil that was seen in Hawaii during the early 1900′s, Prince Kuhio was able to provide for his people for future generations and many years to come; deserving a state holiday. Hau’oli La Prince Kuhio Day!

 

21 March 2014

Waterfalls, Streams, and Plants

BY meghan

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My friend and I went for an adventure the other day just outside of Hilo, up the Hamakua coast. We’ve had a pretty dry winter for our standards but the last couple of days has been raining a lot. And boy oh boy did that rain make everything turn green and vibrant.

Beautiful Rapid Stream

Beautiful Rapid Stream

North of Hilo, and 1 hour from Volcano Village Lodge, is the Hamakua coast. This coastline is a spectacular, scenic drive. Drive over long bridges with the ocean on one side and drastic waterfalls on the other. A lot of folks like to go up to Honomu to see Akaka Falls (and that’s highly recommended). However, keep going a little further up the coast to Umauma. There you can zip-line, if you like, or go on a small rainforest hike and walk through the botanical gardens. You can also visit their overlook of a fairly large waterfall.

Hibiscus Flower

Hibiscus Flower

 

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Rainbow Eucalyptus

Rainbow Eucalyptus

If you like plants and stream systems  like me, you will be happy. Once you get close to the top of the trail turn around and look at the view of the vast Pacific Ocean, ranch lands, and rainforest. A parking pass to is $13 and is good for one week. Make sure to bring bug spray and a raincoat, you will be hiking around a stream!

View from the Top

View from the Top

10 March 2014

Hawaiian Superstitions

BY meghan

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-Kim LaPat, Travel Writer,

Emma Spencer Living

Hawaiians on the whole are a laid-back lot—but many take their superstitions quite seriously. With so much rich, island history, combined with the blending of a diverse, multi-cultural group, an eclectic mix of folklore and beliefs has been passed down from generation to generation in Hawaii.

Many Hawaiian superstitions are based in spirituality. Reverie for the gods and goddesses, especially Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, influences many superstitious local practices. For example, legend has it that Pele was involved in a tumultuous affair with a half-man/half-pig demi-god Kamapuaa, and as a result, will not tolerate pork crossing over the mountains through the Nuuanu Valley on Oahu. Today, having pork in the vehicle while driving on the Pali Highway is a big no-no—those who bring home the bacon without heeding the warning might find their vehicle disabled.

Don't Be Caught With a Can of Spam in Your Car!

Don’t Be Caught With a Can of Spam in Your Car!

It’s also considered offensive to Pele to remove dirt, sand, or lava rock from her volcanic home. While this superstition isn’t rooted in Hawaiian legend, it’s commonly accepted that those who take pieces of Hawaii’s volcanos from their natural habitat will face serious bad luck repercussions. Solidifying the myth is the fact that thousands of tourists return previously pilfered volcanic “souvenirs” each year to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, hoping to reverse what they believe to be a curse put upon them.

Remember Please DO NOT Take Black Sand

Remember Please DO NOT Take Black Sand

Other superstitions and deep-rooted beliefs stem from a powerful respect for the island’s ancestral history. Disturbing ancient burial grounds, or removing any artifacts, is strictly forbidden. During a construction project, if any bones or remains are discovered, it’s a law to stop work immediately and call in the proper archeological officials. It’s also considered disrespectful—and perhaps dangerous—to point at gravestones, because it’s believed the dead will take offense and grab your finger. Whistling or cutting plants at night might also wake the dead.

Even Petroglyphs are a Type of Artificat

Even Petroglyphs are a Type of Artifact

Hawaiians take great care not to disturb or attract the spirits. Ghost tales and spiritual sightings are common around the islands. If you hear the sound of distant drums beating, for example, it could be the night marches of ancient Hawaiian warrior ghosts. Or if a white-haired old woman with a white dog asks you for help, it’s best to do what she asks, as it could be the human incarnation of Pele herself.

Another quirky Hawaiian superstition is that bananas on a boat are bad luck. Ancient Hawaiian fishermen believed that they wouldn’t catch fish with a banana on board. Today, the superstition still has effect, as bananas on a ship or boat are not an “a-peeling” thought. If you’re chartering a boat for fishing, snorkeling, or sightseeing around the Islands, don’t be surprised if your captain prohibits the potassium-rich snack. For many Hawaiian seafarers, when it comes to bad luck, it’s better superstitious than sorry.

Hawaiians are notorious for their hang-loose attitude, but they’re also deeply connected to their spiritual ancestors, proud of their cultural traditions, protective of their lands, and yes, a bit superstitious.

3 March 2014

Travel Writer Blogs About Stay At Volcano Village Lodge

BY meghan

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Catherine Toth, better known to many locals for her blog The Cat Dish, recently stayed with us at Volcano Village Lodge. After a full weekend of planting Koa trees for a difference organization, Catherine said “And I couldn’t have a more perfect place to relax and unwind than at the uber tranquil Volcano Village Lodge.”

To read the full blog click here

3 March 2014

Top Five Reasons To Go on a Retreat

BY meghan

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By Cynthia Revesz

Spiritual Coach

Emma Spencer Living

http://cynthiarevesz.com/

Have you ever returned from a trip and felt like you needed a vacation? A boozy-party vacation, reminiscent of college kids on spring break, can leave you feeling worse than if you never went. In the same way, an overscheduled theme-park or sightseeing extravaganza can drain you both mentally and physically. Plus, as often happens when traveling, overindulging in heavy restaurant meals, local snacks, or unhealthy fast foods can easily throw your digestion out of whack. After trips like these, you often return home in need of detox and some restorative, healthy sleep. Maybe it’s time to make your next getaway a vacation for the soul—where you nourish the body, relax the mind, and connect to the soul.

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Rock Piles in a Sacred Valley, Hawaii

Here are five reasons to go on a retreat:

1.     Allow yourself to just be.

Modern life can be so busy. Days are filled with doing, doing, and more doing. It’s vital to regain balance and allow ourselves some unstructured time to just be.

2.     Get some perspective.

When we’re enmeshed in any situation, we can benefit from gaining new awareness by stepping back to see from a larger perspective.  When we step back from our everyday lives, we may see new possibilities and creative solutions to difficult situations. Taking a mountaintop perspective can also give us new insight into our life path of discovering who we are and embodying our potential. 

 3.     Break from routine.

Life has a tendency to become routine. We all develop unconscious habits that can become almost automatic. So, of course, we can benefit from shaking things up and regaining some spontaneity!

 4.     Nourish yourself.

If we give away too much of our energy through working and being on the go, we’ll become depleted and even burn out. It’s important to take time to rejuvenate and restore ourselves on all levels –mind, body, and spirit—by eating nutritious natural food, moving the body, resting the mind, and restoring our soul connection.

 5.     Connect with your deepest self.

The material world can, if we let it, distract us from the vital inner work of learning, growing, and staying true to our soul self. Taking a vacation retreat to connect deeply within is a wonderful way to honor your essential self and the soul’s path.

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A peaceful, serene environment is ideal for a retreat destination. Choose an area where nature abounds, healthful eating options are easily accessible, and the pace is slower and more relaxed. Next time you plan a trip, consider a spa, beach, or rainforest setting to not only get away, but to get in touch with your inner self.

1 March 2014

Online Reviews: The Real Deal

BY meghan

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How many times have you researched a company, product, or travel destination and checked its online reviews prior to making your purchasing or booking decisions? If you’re like most adult Americans, you probably do it quite consistently—especially when a significant dollar amount is attached to the purchase. Most people feel more secure when making decisions if they are informed ones rather than blind, shoot-in-the-dark and hope-for-the-best choices. And that’s why genuine, detail-oriented online reviews are such powerful, valuable feedback outlets.

A 2013 study conducted by BrightLocal found that 79 percent of buyers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Part of the reason for that consumer confidence is the great lengths most reputable review sites go to in order to combat false or spam-based online reviews. In addition, savvy consumers trust their own judgment when it comes to reading online reviews—in other words, they know how to spot a fake or padded entry.
At  Volcano Village Lodge reviews are prized and valued resources and insight into our guests’ actual experiences. Keeping it real and encouraging the integrity of our online reviews is a top priority for us. We ask guests to provide feedback and write online reviews, but never offer an incentive, bribe, or reward to do so!
Recently, I was shocked when my local car dealership mailed me a letter after a service visit to advise me about a paper (not online) survey that could be sent to me from the auto manufacturer. The pre-emptive communique from the dealership was very clear—and very sneaky. I was told that if I received the manufacturer’s survey, I should contact the dealer IMMEDIATELY if I was not going to award them a 5-star rating. However, if I presented a perfectly-scored survey to them before sealing it and sending it—I would receive a $25 gas card. I have to admit that for a split second, I considered taking the reward and fudging my real opinion—which was less than stellar. In the end, integrity won the day, and I gave my honest feedback. But I wondered how many others took the bait, favoring their wallets over their word?
Luckily, I’ve had more positive experiences with online reviews and surveys. Companies that want honest feedback to better understand the needs of their customers aren’t looking to “purchase” good reviews—they’re seeking the truth. One fast-food establishment I dined at offered a free ice-cream treat for completing an online survey—but the reward was given whether the review was positive, negative, or somewhere in between.
For those who’ve stayed at Volcano Village Lodge, your online reviews are invaluable resources for future guests—and help us better address the needs of our customers. Like all online reviews you choose to give, whether for us or another product, be sure to provide specific details, give examples, and provide a clear explanation of your likes and dislikes. If reading online reviews helps you make better-informed purchasing decisions, writing them will help others do the same. Be factual, honest, and to the point, ensuring that online reviews, especially those at Volcano Village Lodge continue to be the real deal!
- The Staff at Volcano Village Lodge

1 March 2014

Online Reviews: Opinions That Matter

BY meghan

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In terms of online reviews, the staff of Volcano Village Lodge has consistently received high ratings and high praise from guests. But that’s not to say we haven’t also heard a few complaints, suggestions, or negative reports from time to time. Believe it or not—we value every review we receive for its honesty, fairness, and accuracy—and want to know what we’ve done right as well as what we can potentially improve upon. That’s how we stay great and continue to get even better!

According to a localresults.com report by Mike Smith, an overwhelming 78 percent of American adults use online reviews to help them with purchasing decisions. So naturally, businesses want good online reviews! However, any company worth its salt will seek only honest, real ratings that come from the true experiences of those familiar with its product. And that’s our goal at Volcano Village Lodge. .  While we strive to ensure the most pleasant, complete, comfortable, and value-added stays at our property, we’re only as good as our guests’ experiences. And that’s why specific, clear, and direct online reviews that follow the rules and regulations of online reviewing sites matters most to us.

When you stay at one of our resorts or bed-and-breakfasts, please consider writing an online review. Not only does it serve as a valuable word-of-mouth tool for future and potential guests, but it helps us know if we’re still at the top of our game! Be passionate, be specific, and be honest with your comments and feedback. We appreciate your patronage and would love to hear about your experience—because online reviews matter, and more importantly, our customers’ opinions matter.
- The Staff at Volcano Village Lodge

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