Florida paradise goes Hawaiian with Luau at Vero Beach Hotel & Spa

VERO BEACH – This past Memorial Day weekend, the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa ushered in the start of summer with a White Party, playing a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the outdated fashion directive of not wearing white before Memorial Day. Vibrant tropical colors took center stage at Saturday night’s Labor Day summer send off, saying Aloha to summer with a Hawaiian Luau.

A lovely breeze off the ocean produced an ever so slightly cooler evening, and even more importantly it blissfully kept pesky mosquitos and no-see-ums away. Boasting an ideal oceanfront setting for an island party, the Hotel welcomed guests with to the pool deck with festive leis. There they enjoyed live music by guitarist Jonathan Panks, a scrumptious Polynesian themed buffet and tropical cocktails.

It was a particularly congenial crowd with Vero locals out in full force, catching up on summertime trips and family fun.

Kai Martin, founder of the Facebook group Growing Up in Vero, was waiting in line for the bountiful buffet with her friend and longtime Veroite Carolyn Lange, a Realtor with Alex MacWilliam.

“I started it a year ago; it now has around 2,060 people,” said Martin of the site. She added with a laugh, “It’s everything you never wanted to know about Vero Beach.”

But from what we’ve heard, it’s actually THE place to go for great photos and nostalgic memories of the good old days in this island paradise.

A huge group of Hibiscus Children’s Center supporters were on hand; for once just enjoying a great party, instead of working on it. They credited Gretchen Cover as the ringleader who gathered the troops, and were all thanking her for doing so.

“Is this not gorgeous?” asked Susan Kamer. “It’s like being in a resort in the Caribbean.”

“It’s our little piece of paradise,” agreed Heloise Halcomb.

Justifiably proud of his accomplishments, Margaret Martowski was thrilled that her son Drew was able to come up from Miami for the occasion. Drew was valedictorian at his 2004 graduation from Saint Edward’s School and is now a fourth year medical student at the University of Miami.

“This is such a beautiful place; we love to come when we’re in town,” said Sara Tuck. She and husband Ken have divided their time between Vero and Roanoke, VA since 1983.

“We’ve allowed friends to use our properties and some have actually bought here,” added Ken Tuck.

“We love it here in the summer,” said Nancy Erickson, enjoying the festivities with husband Stanford. “You can walk into any restaurant without waiting for an hour.”

The couple also has a home in Annapolis, MD, and like many northern transplants, anticipated a shortage of arts and culture. Needless to say, they were delighted to have been proven wrong.

The evening was closed out in traditional luau fashion with an authentic show by Hawaiian hula and fire dancers. The hotel’s compliance with regulations to keep lights at a minimum for the sea turtles, served to intensify the bright flames from the twirling fire batons.

“The fire dancer was spectacular,” said Kerry Firth. “Twirling three batons at a time, and then putting one in his mouth and blowing fire out of his mouth – that was pretty impressive. It was definitely the highlight of the evening.”

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