VICTORIA – Having just lived through Victoria’s worst snow storm in history, which had British Columbians from more rugged winter climes in stitches, a week in Waikiki looked like the ticket. And it was.
There’s nothing like sunbathing in 25-dgeree weather, knowing back home the icicles are still hanging from the roof, and your biggest decision is where and when to drink your first Maitai of the day.
Not having to worry which politician is getting raked over the coals for conflict of interest, patronage or some other stupidity also helps clear the cobwebs from your mind.
On the other hand, I have yet to spend time anywhere without making notes of what strikes my fancy. The week in Hawaii was no exception. Here then are a number of observations gleaned during the flight to and from Oahu and my lazy hours at the beach, addressed to whom they may concern:
Canadian Airlines still seems to be reeling from its recent touch with oblivion. Service is not what it should be. In-flight information is sparse at best.
Yet, there seemed to be no shortage of free spirits. Considering that Canadian is the only Canadian airline flying to Hawaii, a modest charge for drinks – I had beer, wine and a liqueur on each flight – would not be a hardship on passengers and help the airline’s bottom line.
Arriving at Honolulu International Airport for our return flight, I found a huge check-in line-up. A previous flight had been cancelled and Canadian was trying to transfer as many passengers as possible onto our flight.
The result was long waits and angry passengers at the regular check-in, while two business class check-in counters had nothing to do. Only when passengers became a little vocal, did a surly-looking business class attendant condescend to process those of us who rode at the back of the bus.
To sum it up, more than a bailout appears to be needed to bring Canadian into the 20th century of customer service. The company management types who spoke so eloquently of their world-class airline ought to take another look.
I also have a word of advice for British Columbia’s tourism industry. Don’t try to get rich over-night on the backs of hapless tourists who bring their hard-earned dollars here. The natural beauty of British Columbia will only go so far.
You can get a breakfast at a fancy hotel, served on the verandah overlooking world-famous Waikiki Beach for $3.50 U.S. Try that at the Pan Pacific in Vancouver or the Empress in Victoria.
The Moana Surfrider, one of the three best hotels on Waikiki Beach, offers a dinner buffet for $16 (Canadian). I know of only one place in Victoria that offers a similar culinary feast for about $30.
And here’s one for Premier Glen Clark, if he ever gets over the budget fiasco and has time to refocus on his promise to protect health care.
The Honolulu Advertiser ran a big spread on health care U.S. style. Believe me, we don’t want it.
Health care in the U.S. has become the playground of huge corporations that have their eyes fixed firmly on profits. Patient care is secondary.
Even the hospitals that used to be run by non-profit organizations are being swallowed up by big care-for-profit institutions. Here’s a quote from the article:
"Corporate entities have redefined the mission of health care. Their primary concern is not to meet the needs of their patients and communities, but to fulfill their legal mandate to maximize return to investors. Cutting costs and boosting profits are the first considerations.
"Without a wide umbrella of protection from our elected representatives, any one of us could find ourselves out in the rain with our portables IV lines."