Maui appeals to travelers of all ages // © 2014 HTA/Tor Johnson
Hawaii wholesalers agree that Maui is an easy sell. They count it among their top-producing destinations, crediting its tourism industry for constantly upgrading its inventory of places to stay and things to do. And while their biggest challenge comes from clients who think that the island is too expensive, wholesale reps are responding by providing maximum value to each Maui vacation.
Travel Impressions president Tim Mullen describes Maui as one of the world’s most sought-after destinations, with widespread appeal to a variety of markets.
“Adventure-seekers can hike Haleakala volcano; golf enthusiasts can play one of the island’s numerous courses; water lovers can snorkel, scuba dive and sail; and everyone can enjoy its amazing beaches, luaus, dining and shopping,” Mullen said.
Jennifer Halboth, marketing director for the Globus Family of Brands, adds that part of Maui’s allure stems from its ability to offer a happy medium between the fast pace of Waikiki and the laid-back mood of Kauai.
“On Maui, if travelers want nightlife, they can find it, but they can also escape to some of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in the world,” said Halboth.
At the same time, wholesalers are noticing growing interest in Maui’s sister islands of Molokai and Lanai. The trio comprises what tourism officials call Maui Nui (Big Maui).
“Many customers are discovering a new Maui experience by taking a ferry or quick flight to Molokai or Lanai, which have their own charm,” said Levi Sanchez, senior marketing manager of Blue Sky Tours.
Good Airlift, Great Resorts
Wholesalers concur that Maui sales are facilitated by the island’s plentiful airlift.
“Over the past few years, nonstop flights to Maui have grown, thanks in part to the opening of Hawaiian Airlines’ second Hawaii hub in Kahului,” said Pleasant Holidays president Jack Richards. “Hawaiian has increased its total seats from Los Angeles to Maui in 2014, so it is now very convenient to visit Maui without changing planes in Honolulu.”
Hawaiian, Alaska Airlines and U.S. Airways are all adding direct service from the Western U.S. to Maui for summer 2014.
Supplementing Maui’s selling power is its range of resort product, according to wholesalers. The island offers budget hotels and condos for the frugal traveler, but it’s the high-end resorts that are currently turning heads.
Properties that are commanding headlines lately include the elegant Andaz Maui at Wailea, which opened in 2013, and Montage Kapalua Bay, an all-suite oasis scheduled for a June 2014 debut.
Keeping Maui Affordable
While Maui’s tourism scene seems robust, some travelers think that the island is overpriced. Rising hotel and airline rates are validating that perception, according to Apple Vacations vice president Mark Noennig.
“More vacationers are considering higher room categories and suites, but they are also price-conscious,” said Noennig. “They want to enhance their vacation experience with a larger room and more amenities.”
To put the island within reach of more clients, wholesalers are marketing Maui with money-saving initiatives.
For example, Pleasant Holidays is currently offering a pair of Maui exclusives. Clients booking Royal Lahaina Resort can save up to $700 per booking on a five-night stay and enjoy plenty of perks. Pleasant’s Westin Maui Resort and Spa promotion provides savings of $370 per five-night booking and extras such as free daily breakfasts and spa discounts.
Apple Vacations’ Go Topless promotion allows Maui visitors to upgrade to a convertible for the price of a mid-size rental car. Travel Impressions is packaging reduced rates at a long list of Maui resorts with bonus amenities such as free meals for kids and champagne and chocolates for honeymooners.
The goal is to keep Maui at the top of travelers’ wish lists. According to wholesalers, it appears that the old saying still rings true: Maui No Ka Oi (Maui Is the Best).