The staff of AskAbout Travel.com at Grand Wailea Resort during its recent Maui fam trip // © 2011 Askabouttravel.com
Michael Hennes first visited Maui in the summer of 1970 and, since then, he has returned so many times that he has lost count. In January 2011, he took his entire staff to the island for its annual office fam trip -- a five-night immersion into all things Maui. TravelAge West caught up with Hennes to get feedback on what he thinks makes Maui so special.
On your recent visit, what happened that was new or surprising?
I always find something unexpected when I go to Maui. This time, it was Kai Kanani Sailing Charters' early morning snorkel tour to Molokini, a sunken crater. The catamaran departs from Makena at 6:30 a.m. Since the voyage takes only 20 minutes, you're the first boat to arrive at Molokini and you and your fellow passengers have the entire snorkeling spot to yourselves. Then you head to Turtle Town, another great snorkeling spot. Again, you're the first boat there, and you can swim with green sea turtles.What are your favorite things to recommend to clients who are traveling to Maui?
Check out the sights in Upcountry Maui. I love the Alii Kula Lavender Farm and Tedeschi Winery. Across the street from the winery is the Ulupalakua Grill, which has great hamburgers made from island cattle. The scenery is fantastic; you see plenty of pine trees, birds and wildlife. The drive up and back takes just a few hours, unlike the road to Hana, which is an all-day trip.
If a Maui-bound client wants to do something beyond the standard popular activities, what do you suggest?
Head north to Kapalua and go hiking. There are trails up into the mountains and beautiful beach paths. They converted the third golf course into an outdoor adventure area well worth exploring. The zipline at Kapalua is a winner too.What's the most unusual request you have received from a client headed to Maui?
For Valentine's Day, a young man wanted to fly to Maui and propose to his girlfriend, who was at the Wailea Beach Marriott for a conference. I called the hotel's sales department, and they came up with some ideas to make it special. The hotel upgraded my client to an oceanfront room and worked with him on the timing of the proposal. When he went down to the beach to propose, the hotel staff decorated his room with flowers and rose petals and provided the couple with a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, all at no extra charge. Wasn't that romantic?