Tutu’s Memories: Halcyon days at the Sheraton Kaluakoi
By Marie Yamashita
“You people here are so lucky,” said my good friend Ethel, who had come from Oahu with her husband and friends to spend another weekend golfing and staying at the Sheraton. “It’s beautiful here and the course is better than our Mid Pacific Country Club on Oahu.”
That was way back in the early 1980s. Many times I had heard similar words from those who visited our island, not only from those who golfed, but others who came primarily to luxuriate in the hotel’s vacation atmosphere or to dine in the charming dining hall.
The view of Kepuhi beach was breathtaking. In 1993, when my mother passed away, Dr. Motoshima from Kumamoto (mother’s prefecture) came to express his family’s condolences to me, and I took him to dine at the hotel. Looking at the gorgeous view he turned to me and said, “Even in Japan it would be hard to find a place as beautiful as this.” It was good to hear Molokai had a show-case place.
I frequented Sheraton Kaluakoi back in the late 70s. I learned to golf there and spent much time at the golf course’s driving range. I was never much of a golfer (handicap in the upper atmosphere) but experienced enough to appreciate Sheraton’s superb golf course. So did the tourists and visitors who played there. On the course one met golfers from the mainland, from faraway places like Melbourne, and the ubiquitous Japanese whose happy “Bodie, bodie,” at the nineth hole made everyone smile.
Sheraton’s golf course nurtured our talented kama`aina. There were golf clubs on Molokai for men and for women and members participated in the frequent tournaments held at the Sheraton. Golfer’s signed in at the golf shop and proceeded to the putting green, but I could never resist looking over the merchandise at the shop.
Sheraton Kaluakoi was the place to celebrate special occasions—anniversaries, birthdays, weddings and holidays. The buffets on Easter and Christmas were splendors to behold, displaying a wide selection of delectable creations to entice the most discriminating palate. Tourists, yes, but locals, too, splurged and enjoyed those buffets.
There was a courtyard at Kalauakoi next to the dining hall where events were held. Once, “Funn Things” a dress shop in Kaunakakai collaborated with Liberty House and others to hold a fashion show there and included my husband Henry who modeled an Aloha shirt.
Looking back in my mind’s eye, I see so many faces of our kama`aina who used to work at the Sheraton — the clerk at the golf shop, the receptionist and servers in the dining room, the one at the quick counter, the sales ladies at the Liberty House, the one at the convenience store, the owner of the art shop, and of course, my friend in the hair salon.
Those were halcyon days at Sheraton Kaluakoi. Though I may never see the day, I hope for a revival of the wonderful, maika`i times there.