Honua Kai Resort and Spa, one of the many places couples can stay // (c) 2011 Honua Kai Resort and Spa
The island of Maui is world-renowned as a great destination for couples -- setting itself apart with its dazzling beaches, tropical rain forests, volcanic landscapes, top-quality hotels and a variety of dining options.
"Everywhere you turn on Maui -- and I do mean everywhere -- there is overwhelming beauty that envelops you," said Maui Visitors Bureau executive director Terryl Vencl. "Whether visitors are active and venture across Maui or choose to lounge poolside or on the beach, the combination of natural beauty and creature comforts creates a seamless and effortless experience."
With so many activities available to choose from, planning the perfect romantic Maui vacation for clients can be a daunting task. Keiko Hatakeda of AAA Travel in Clovis, Calif., emphasized the importance of asking clients what they are seeking in a romance vacation.
"If couples are looking for something quieter and more secluded, I advise them to visit Hana," said Hatakeda. "If they want to be closer to more vibrant, active spots, then I suggest Wailea or Kaanapali."
Kaanapali Beach is an example of how Maui's more modern comforts and natural beauty come together in a single location. With a three-mile stretch of white-sand beaches and clear waters, it'a a Maui hot spot boasting a captivating shopping complex, whaling museum, two top golf courses, five hotels and six condominium villages, all of which face the ocean. While in Kaanapali, clients can learn about Hawaiian culture during the nightly cliff-diving ceremony at Black Rock near the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa, reenacting a feat by Maui's revered King Kahekili.
Couples who want to take in the natural beauty of Maui can drive along the historical Hana Highway, a 60-mile stretch of road that winds past mountains, beaches, waterfalls and abundant flora and fauna. For an even deeper immersion into Maui's natural habitat, clients can tour Haleakala National Park and its dormant 10,023-foot volcano. There, couples will be surrounded by native plants and wildlife thriving across its acreage. Popular activities include sunrise and sunset watching, hiking and camping.
Couples drawn to the vibrant bustle of shops and restaurants need look no further than the town of Lahaina. Visitors to the historic whaling village will be immersed in Hawaiian history and a range of art boutiques. The winter season offers an opportune chance for visitors to cruise Lahaina Harbor, considered to be one of the best whale-watching spots in the world.
When it comes to dining, Maui is more than ready to satisfy. Whether couples are sampling smoked marlin at Mama's Fish House or tucking into a filet mignon at Lahaina Grill, a Maui dining experience is designed to please the senses. After dinner and drinks, couples can relax in the accommodations of their choice, from mountainside cottages to beachfront resorts.
While Maui's reputation as a romantic getaway precedes it, experts can't stress enough the value of a firsthand visit to the island.
"The best advice I have for travel agents is this -- hands-on experience," said Hatakeda. "You need to see Maui for yourself to properly convey its beauty to clients, and the experience also makes you a reliable source of suggestions and information."
Personal experience is the best way to be able to advise couples on their trips.
"I am always truthful with clients and give them the pros and cons," said Betty Cox of Travel Concepts in Fountain Valley, Calif. "For example, the Kapalua side can be windy and usually gets afternoon rain every day. I tell them that in advance so they know what to expect, even if that's where they really want to stay."
Of course, at the end of the day, a client's satisfaction is the best reward for a travel agent. And a romantic Maui getaway is nearly always a home run.
"The most rewarding aspect of putting together a Maui romance vacation is knowing that I am doing something special for my clients, as well as hearing about activities they discovered that I didn't know about," said Hatakeda.
Given the romantic opportunities that Maui offers, couples can expect a memorable experience. Travel agents looking to deliver this romance for their clients must make use of Maui's many activities and locations in order to leave couples under its spell now and for future visits.