Maui Is Better Than Ever

The island continues to garner accolades but will not rest on its laurels in 2011 By: Marty Wentzel
Blue Pools Waterfall // © 2010 Maui Visitors Bureau
Blue Pools Waterfall // © 2010 Maui Visitors Bureau

The Details

Visit Maui
Year after year, Maui has earned accolades as a vacation destination from such renowned publications as Conde Nast Traveler, whose readers have named it Best Island in the World 16 times. Rather than rest on its laurels, however, the Maui Visitors Bureau (MVB) is doing its utmost to continue its winning streak in 2011 through creative changes and offerings on Maui and its sister islands of Molokai and Lanai.

“We’re cautiously optimistic as we look ahead,” said MVB executive director Terryl Vencl. “We plan on being in the right places at the right time as much as possible. The global economic situation is still in disarray, which will affect what happens with consumer spending, so market saturation in the correct venues is paramount.”

One of Maui’s many advantages is the availability of direct air service to the island, including a growing number of nonstop routes. With 155 direct flights to Maui each week on all the major carriers, it is easy and convenient to visit. Clients can fly from such West Coast cities as Las Vegas; Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Other direct flights are available from Phoenix, Dallas, Denver, Chicago, Anchorage and Edmonton and Calgary, Canada.

“It’s very important to provide ease of travel to Maui,” said Vencl. “We are welcoming additional airlift from secondary cities as well.”

By constantly tweaking the visitor experience with appealing new attractions and activities, Maui’s tourism industry is making sure it satisfies first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike in 2011. For instance, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa recently added a new telescope to its Tour of the Stars rooftop astronomy show, providing guests with spectacular views of little-seen constellations. By popular demand, Maui Ocean Activities at Grand Wailea introduced a stand-up paddleboard tour that teaches visitors the basics of the increasingly popular sport. Maui Ocean Center’s Fins and Flippers excursion gives guests a sneak peek behind the scenes of the aquarium, complete with supervised shark and turtle feedings. Four Seasons Resorts Lanai has unveiled the state-of-the-art Stables at Koele offering daily rodeos, roping demonstrations and trail rides.

As Maui accommodations dream up ways to add value to vacations, they are steadfastly upgrading their facilities, services and amenities. Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas recently completed a $1.6 million makeover of its lobby, function area, garden courtyard and meeting space. Hyatt Regency Maui is wrapping up a $15 million transformation focusing on updated guestrooms and a hip new restaurant. The historic Lahaina Inn has reopened after a complete remodel under the new management of Hawaiian Hotels and Resorts, which owns and operates Royal Lahaina Resort. The current $14 million project at Fairmont Kea Lani will result in renovated suites and villas, upgraded swimming pools and decks and an expansion of its signature restaurant and spa.

Additional resorts showcasing notable improvements include Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, which has created an intimate venue for oceanfront weddings. For Kapalua Villas guests, a relocated reception center provides ease of access to the property’s front desk, concierge, bell services, executive offices, shops and a soon-to-open dining venue. All around Maui, more resort improvements are on the horizon for 2011.

Working in Maui’s favor are new activities where visitors can interact with residents and learn about the local host culture. A good example is the Maui Open Market, a combination farmers’ market and arts and crafts fair, enlivening the grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation. Pacific Whale Foundation’s Volunteering on Vacation program also invites visitors to help out for a few hours on behalf of Maui’s environment while experiencing aspects of the island that are often missed by travelers. The MVB is encouraging visitors to take advantage of these and other unique pastimes so they can better appreciate all that Maui has to offer.

Throughout the coming year, the MVB promises to work closely with travel agents to keep them in the loop on its news and resources.  

“We will continue to provide agents with the latest updates and training, both in person and on the Internet,” said Vencl. “As much as possible, we want to stay front and center and make ourselves available for whatever agents need.”
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