Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ tag

Mahalo MKTG! Rewards Winner Rick Gonzalez’s Hawaiian Adventures

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Clockwise from top left: Rick and helicopter tour pilot Greg give the shaka sign, view from the helicopter, mile-long waterfall in Hilo, view from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Waikiki & dining on "loco moco",

Clockwise from top left: Rick and helicopter tour pilot Greg give the shaka sign, view from the helicopter, mile-long waterfall in Hilo, view from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Kona & dining on Hawaiian favorite “loco moco”.

The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent the remainder of 2016 taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. 

Rick Gonzalez is MKTG New York’s Operations Manager and spends the majority of his workday actively running around the office ensuring that everything is running smoothly. So, it’s no surprise that when he was one of this year’s MKTG Rewards winners for a domestic trip anywhere in the US, he picked a ten day Hawaiian adventure where he would be doing anything but sitting around. While most travelers associate The Aloha State with beachbums and honeymooners, Rick avoided the cliches and made the most of historical experiences and venturing to the extreme depths –  land and sea – of the Island’s dynamically volatile geography. From mile-long waterfalls to fiery lava pits to underwater exploration, Rick soaked in these amazing vistas via helicopter, submarine, Camaro SS Convertible, or more traditionally, by foot! Rick curated his trip to blend cultural curiosity and luxe living, ending each day with a priceless sunset at the Hotel Renew in Waikiki and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Kona.

MKTG: What was the feeling when you were chosen as a MKTG Rewards winner?
RG: That was an unbelievable moment for me, I was in such disbelief. I am and will always be so grateful for the staff’s acknowledgement. That was a day I will never forget.

Why did you choose Hawaii?
RG: I have never been to Hawaii and it has always been the destination on the top of my bucket list. 
 
What parts of the island did you explore? 
RG: I explored a good portion of the Big Island – Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, a two hour helicopter tour, rode in a submarine and drove around the whole island. I ventured around Oahu and Honolulu, climbed the Diamond Head State Monument crater and had a day touring historical landmarks: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Bowfin Submarine and USS Missouri Battleship.

How do Hawaiian beaches compare to other beach destinations you have visited?
RG: The beaches in Hawaii are pristine with remarkably large waves and rich turquoise waters. It’s so easy to be swept away by the beauty of the water itself.
 
You are always in the know of popular cocktails and drink trends! Were there any interesting cocktails you tried that weren’t of the stereotypical “bright blue flaming booze in a pineapple” variety?
RG: Unfortunately no! I stuck to Big Wave Golden Ale and Hawaii’s signature cocktails: Mai Tai and Blue Hawaii. 
 
Did you try any local Hawaiian dishes/delicacies? 
RG: I tried…Poke (Raw Ahi tuna with seaweed and a variety of Japanese veggies. LOVED IT! ), loco moco (hamburger patties served with gravy & topped with two fried eggs), Spam musubi (cooked, seasoned Spam on a bed of sushi rice wrapped with seaweed) and Poi (mashed taro plant root).

What was the most surprising or unexpected moment from your trip?
RG: I was not prepared to see millions of stars shine so brilliantly in the sky as well as an active volcano with lava splashing and flowing! 
 
What was one moment of the trip you will never forget? 
RG: I will never forget the helicopter tour around the Island. I saw parts of the Island that were inaccessible unless you flew by plane or helicopter. Seeing lava flowing into the ocean creating new land right before my eyes was a special moment, too.  

 

–Contributed by Rick Gonzalez, MKTG NY and MKTG Global Communications team

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MKTG INC Rewards: Big Rewards on the Big Island

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Each quarter, MKTG INC staffers select one lucky MKTGer for a reward trip to a destination of their choosing. Upon their return, winners are asked to report on their trip and make us all sick with envy. Here’s the rewards recap of Brandon Lee, Senior Account Executive, in MKTG INC’s New York City office.

Most people don’t get to travel and write about their experiences for a living. I… also don’t get paid to do this. But for one day, I get to tell you about the Rewards Trip I took to the Island of Hawaii, also known as Big Island. The Big Island is aptly named – it’s more than twice the size of any other Hawaiian island and the breadth of what you can see there makes you feel tiny and insignificant – in a good way. Here are some things I’ll never forget about my trip:

Manta Rays
In Kona, manta rays with wingspans of 12-16 feet gather nightly to feed on plankton. We went with Kamanu charters to snorkel among them as they glided and somersaulted underwater in search of dinner, occasionally brushing up against us in doing so. The first time seeing one of these creatures appear just inches beneath me was breathtaking, and I could hear everyone else’s excited yelps through their snorkel masks. The boat ride there wasn’t bad either, catching a beautiful sunset with humpback whales swimming by.

Volcano National Park
Due to the current flow location, I’ll have to make another trip to Big Island to catch a view of lava up close, but even seeing the bright orange glow from afar at night in Volcano National Park was awesome. During the day, we drove the Chain of Craters Road, passing previously active craters and ending with epic views over oceanside cliffs, created by old lava flows. We also hiked across the crater of the most recent volcanic eruption on Big Island, the Kilauea Iki Trail. It’s pretty crazy to walk past steam vents and stand on what was a lake of lava just decades ago.

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Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea is largely considered the world’s best location for stargazing, which makes it good enough for a sunset too. The drive up to Mauna Kea alone nearly sidetracked us into missing sundown, with amazing views in all directions, but we made it to the summit in time, perched ourselves on a rock and watched the sun slowly disappear over craters on the horizon. After night fell, the sky was still amazingly bright because of all the stars and planets that I never see from NYC.

Poke
I don’t normally get excited about tuna sushi here on the east coast, but tuna (poke) in Hawaii is a completely different story. The tuna by itself is silky, and delicious, but Hawaiians take it to another level, adding onions, sesame oil, seaweed, and sesame seeds. The finished result is a food worthy of the top-rated US restaurant on Yelp (Pro-tip: hit up Umeke’s as well to decide which poke is better – I won’t judge you).

After this trip, I have to say that Big Island is my favorite island in Hawaii, and I couldn’t have had this experience if it wasn’t for MKTG and all my co-workers, so thank you for your support. If you are ever planning a trip there, let me know and I’ll gladly share my Google map/recommendations. There are plenty of coral reefs, black sand beaches, sea turtles, waterfalls, caves, plate lunch restaurants, and shave ice spots we also got to enjoy during our vacation.

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Escape to Hawaii!

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Hawaii Collage 2
Like everywhere else in the US, the Northeast has experienced a long, insufferable winter. I finally reached a point where I couldn’t stand the sight of snow anymore so I chose to cash in my MKTG RWRDS trip and go to Hawaii. I wasn’t sure what to expect besides leis, luaus & Hawaiian shirts, but if this mystical place could make Don Draper smile, then I knew it could bring me out of my winter funk.

My girlfriend Lillian and I started the trip with two nights on Waikiki Beach. We ate amazing Japanese food, relaxed on the beach and hiked to the top of Diamond Head State Monument for some incredible panoramic views. Once we had a chance to thaw out, we drove to the North Shore of Oahu. Along the way, we stopped at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the world-famous Dole Plantation to ride the Pineapple Express (James Franco not included).

My favorite experience on the North Shore was walking through a Banyan tree forest to the secluded Kawela Bay. There we spent the day stand up paddling through crystal clear waters filled with sea turtles, drinking fresh coconuts and eating fresh pineapple from a nearby fruit stand. The area is famous for their shrimp trucks and we aggressively sampled the different versions of shrimp scampi (our favorite was Fumi’s). I also cliff jumped at Laie Point, which some people might recognize from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I’m glad to report that my jump was slightly more graceful than the one performed by Jason Segal’s character (also named Peter).

To end the trip, we visited the beautiful island of Kauai, full of jagged mountain ridges and exotic plant life. Jurassic Park was filmed there and at times it felt like a dinosaur was going to jump out and spray blinding venom in my eyes. Luckily that never happened and we had a wonderful time hiking along the Napali Coast, which provided breathtaking views of the island. We woke up early on our last morning to take a helicopter tour, a first for both of us. We flew around the whole island and saw things that never would have been possible from the ground, including canyons, waterfalls and a breaching humpback whale.

While the weather and activities were amazing, the thing I miss most is the food. I’ve done my best to find Hawaiian food here in NYC, but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t crave Açaí bowls, Ahi Poke, fresh pineapple and coconut ice cream. If it’s not already obvious, my trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. I’d like to thank MKTG for providing the opportunity, my colleagues for selecting me and the entire House of Walker crew for their tireless support during my last year on the program.

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Written by Peter McCutcheon
Peter McCutcheon

April 3rd, 2014 at 10:39 am

Posted in Experience

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