Boasting a verdant green landscape contrasting with hues of vibrant ocean blue, Maui offers up the natural, rural splendor its neighbor islands possess, but ratchets the experience up a notch with its ample infrastructure, ease of access and upscale visitor offerings.
Quaint beach villages, scenic adventure options, some of the best dining in the Hawaiian Islands, world renowned resorts and 81 public beaches allow planners to create an immaculate meetings package, without venturing too far, when gathering on the “Magic Isle.”
“We are an island that captivates visitors with our small-town charms, local cuisines, local artisans, and let’s not forget the romance that perpetuates here on Maui,” says Sherry Duong, director of meetings, conventions, incentives and international sales at the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau. “[Maui is] an island that provides enough activities that the visitors can be spontaneous, yet small enough to take the work out of choosing…just endless opportunities.”
Favorite Maui adventures, Duong says, include catching a sunrise—and other jaw-dropping views—from Haleakala Crater, an ancient dormant volcano, and the breathtaking Road to Hana, a winding 68-mile highway laden with tropical waterfalls and sandy beaches that attenddes can package into a spectacular pre or post trip.
The island’s many luxury properties, soon to include the 290-room, 19-villa Andaz Wailea Resort (formerly the Renaissance Wailea Hotel), slated to open in March 2012, frequently offer culturally enhanced on-site activities. The Kapalua, Ka’anapali, Wailea and Makena resort areas house the lion’s share of the island’s top meetings properties.
Duong adds that many companies have been bypassing lazy days on the beach in favor of giving attendees community service opportunities to nurture the unique geographic and cultural elements of the island.
“Team-building activities in the past year have been tied in with corporate social responsibility,” Duong says. “A few activities that have been done here on Maui are canoe building on the beach, painting schools and even weeding out invasive plants with [local nonprofit trust] Maui Cultural Lands.”
As a bonus, its close proximity to sister islands Lanai and Molokai means that meeting planners can easily integrate all three islands into itineraries to give attendees a multifaceted Hawaiian experience.
“Maui County is the only part of Hawaii that allows you to travel one to another, Molokai and Lanai, by boat,” Duong says. “It allows the visitor opportunities to experience the diversity of Hawaii without having to experience TSA each time.”
The island will soon become even more accessible by air, via direct and interisland flights as the Kahului Airport welcomes a secondary Hawaiian Airlines hub. The airline will increase service to Maui by 25 percent, as well as reintroduce direct flights from Los Angeles and adding nonstop service from New York’s JFK airport in June.