The pineapple industry once provided thousands of jobs on Maui. Now, the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is involved in reinvigorating the pineapple market and consumption of locally grown fruit. Wailea Beach Marriott’s General Manager Bill Countryman initiated the promotion of pineapples at the resort after becoming concerned about the downturn in pineapple production and challenges to local farming on Maui. “I’ve been on the island for about 25 years and I really wanted to be able to help farmers here,” Countryman expressed.
One avenue has been with education. Wailea Beach Marriott hosts pineapple demonstrations by the Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company Ltd. Both guests and employees are encouraged to attend the presentations where the history of the fruit is covered and ideas are provided on how it can be incorporated into a meal. The Marriott’s special VIP clients receive Maui Gold pineapples as both a welcoming and departing gift, and every guest at the resort is provided a card and flyer that offers them an opportunity to order the locally grown fruit. The resort has also spotlighted pineapple during special dinners for local business leaders and some of its best customers. “We’re happy to do this and we see it as a way to promote local agriculture,” Countryman stated.
Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Vice President Rodrigo Balala said Wailea Beach Marriott has brought a “steady” stream of business to his three-year-old company. “It really helps us in getting more exposure with visitors,” Balala said. The pineapple company is working to expand local pineapple promotions with other hotels. “It’s a great matchup and a good way for the tourism industry to support agriculture,” Balala noted. Countryman reported both resort employees and guests have provided positive feedback and appreciation for the pineapple demonstrations and promotions. “When you look up the history, you’ll find that pineapple is a universal symbol of hospitality. So this is great that we can promote pineapple in the hospitality industry,” he said. Countryman believes both the agriculture and hospitality industries can prosper side by side “if they all support each other.”