Hawaiian Host, Inc., announced Thursday Nicole Kawehi Navarro of Kapolei as the winner of "The Great Hawaiian Host-ess" Search.
The company launched the campaign in Fall 2012 and publicized the search to find a new individual whose looks and personality best exemplified the gracious spirit of the company. The winner was chosen from more than 500 entries submitted through the Hawaiian Host Facebook page and more than 19,000 votes were received for various entrants.
"We are grateful to everyone who entered to become the next Hawaiian Host-ess," said Keith Sakamoto, President and CEO of Hawaiian Host. "We were pleased with the tremendous response and are humbled to know that so many were interested in becoming a part of what the Hawaiian Host brand represents to the world."
"In our interviews with the finalists Nicole really stood out as someone who exemplified the Aloha spirit and could serve as a true ambassador of Hawai'i. We are very happy that she has accepted our offer to become the next Hawaiian Host-ess," said Sakamoto.
Navarro, known by "Kawehi" to her friends, was born and raised in Kaimuki and started dancing hula at the age of 5. She is a professional hula dancer who dances for Ka Waikahe Lani Malie led by Kumu Blaine Kia and she also performs hula at the Outrigger Reef Hotel for its Vow Renewal Program.
When she is not performing she also teaches hula to Japanese visitors. In her free time she loves to spend time with her 2-year-old daughter.
"I feel truly blessed to be selected as the next Host-ess and I am very excited to be a part of this great company," said Kawehi. "If it wasn’t for my mom telling me about the Great Hawaiian Host-ess Search I would have missed out on this fabulous opportunity to be involved with Hawaiian Host, so I am very grateful to her and all my family and friends who voted for me during the campaign."
Entries for the campaign were accepted from Aug. 14, 2012 through Oct. 31, 2012 and people were allowed to submit entries online at the Hawaiian Host website or via a tab on its Facebook page. Ten finalists were selected from the entries, with one being chosen via popular vote through the website.
The ten finalists were interviewed from November through December by a panel of Hawaiian Host executives and the winner was selected and notified in 2013.
"Although the process took several months, we wanted to be as thorough as possible and select the right individual who matched the sprit and personality of Hawaiian Host," said Rosalie Romo Char, marketing director for Hawaiian Host. "Now we will move onto the next phase of the process, conducting a photo shoot and incorporating Kawehi's image to create an updated look."
As the winner and new Host-ess, Kawehi received a monetary gift and year's worth of Hawaiian Host chocolate in addition to the opportunity to be featured in at least one of the company’s advertising materials.