Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Work and relaxation on the Big Island of Hawaii

As a stage manager/production assistant/event worker in a usually chilly and always crowded New York City, I find myself more often than not in the back of a conference room, the corner of a darkened theater, or a window-less rehearsal space. It's an unglamorous existence, but I do it because I love the work, not the views. It does get a little old and tiresome however - my Vitamin D levels have been on the low side for quite some time, and it's no accident that I choose sunny and slow-moving tropical locations for the majority of my vacation destinations. But a few months ago, I got the phone call I've been waiting my whole life to get - an invitation to work as a production assistant on a giant event in Hawaii. Naturally, I jumped at the chance (no really - I literally spent the whole phone call quietly leaping all over my living room, hoping the woman on the other end of the call couldn't tell how stupidly excited I was). Four months, two flights, and one minivan car rental later, I found myself on the Kona (west) coast of Hawaii's Big Island - and one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been.

There isn't much to say about the work or the event itself - regardless if you're in Paradise or Paramus, an event is always going to need schedules and walkies, water stations and fire extinguishers. But tracking these things down while surrounded by perfect palm trees sure made the days a whole lot more fun and doable. Also, I was officially released from work on Sunday evening, but my flight wasn't until the following Monday evening - and I didn't have to return the rental car until right before my flight. Obviously, that meant getting up as early as I possibly could to drive straight to the tip of the island and then slowly making my way up and down twisty roads with stunning overlooks. I unfortunately hit multiple patches of rain and wind throughout the day (the Big Island has 11 of the 13 different climate zones, and I'm pretty sure I hit all 11 in that one drive) which prevented me from hiking into a photogenic valley like the guide books told me to do, but it was nonetheless a ridiculously fun and picturesque roam through the inner island.


If you go:
*The event was held on the grounds of the luxurious Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii. While I can't report on the hotel as a guest, I did interact with the staff, wander the bowels of the kitchen in search of serving platters, and spend an obscene amount of time driving a golf card around the property - and it was all wonderful and beautiful and perfect. If I had the money, I'd stay there in a heartbeat.
*We were given accommodations at the (slightly) more affordable Islands at Mauna Lanai, two-bedroom condos that came with private lanais, secure gated access, shared use of a well-maintained beachfront and pool/gym, and a small shopping center on the property. If you're planning to stay for any length of time but still want a semi-luxury atmosphere, a condo rental is the way to go.
*A rental car is a necessity if you want to go anywhere off the property, regardless where you're staying. The majority of Hawaii's beauty lies inland - so once you've had your beach day, it's imperative that you see what else the island has to offer. From forest hikes to volcano sightings to coffee plantation tours, the list is endless, but requires a vehicle to get from one sight to another. I went with Enterprise and was more than happy with the service, range of available vehicles, and the quality of my sweet sweet minivan ride. 

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