As Lahaina residents and business owners have begun the slow and careful process of re-entering designated parts of the historical town destroyed by the wildfire last August, the area understandably remains off-limits to outsiders. However, other parts of West Maui began to reopen to visitors in phases October 8. Hotels and hospitality providers around the Valley Isle are both anxious for their return — and their good behavior.
“We want to encourage visitors when they come here to travel mindfully, to be responsible and show respect and compassion, and just don’t go to Lahaina,” said Sherry Duong, executive director of the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau.
That said, the Valley Isle does need visitors. Since tourism accounts for nearly all of the Maui economy, the empty streets are reminding locals of the pandemic. Governor Josh Green recently said that the state had received more than 15,000 applications for unemployment benefits from Maui residents in the six weeks following the fire. While anyone can help Maui by donating to relief efforts or by supporting hospitality employees and small businesses directly, mindful travelers would provide a huge boost. “There can’t be any better recovery plan than visitors who can come help us rebuild by putting our community back to work,” Duong said.
Where to Stay
Visitors who frequent properties such as Napili Kai Beach Resort Montage Kapalua Bay or the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua — all in the first phase of reopening — should still call ahead to make sure all amenities they expect are still available. In Kapalua, all activities — ATVs, horseback riding, ziplining, kayaking and the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment — were set to resume by October 8, according to Rebecca Pang, director of public relations for the Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua.
Restaurants and activity providers elsewhere also need visitors’ help, noted Kathleen Costello, director of marketing/communications for the Wailea Resort Association, 45 minutes south of Lahaina. “Come and dine out to help out — everything keeps a person’s job going,” Costello said. “Buy a salad, keep a farmer growing its crops. Having a cocktail and dinner at Pita Paradise helps keep five people working.” Ultimately, Costell said, Maui “needs visitors to help us heal.”
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has created a special Maui Strong rate, which includes a donation of $125 or $200 a night to the Maui Strong Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, depending on the room category, through December 15.
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort is collecting donations of personal and feminine hygiene products, baby products, pet supplies and nonperishable food and recommends guests donate to the Maui relief efforts of World Central Kitchen, American Red Cross, and the Maui Strong Fund. It also has a special Sunshine on Sale offer of a fifth night free and free daily breakfast for two at Ka‘ana Kitchen.
Affiliated with the World of Hyatt program, Hana-Maui Resort currently has special offers that include perks such as triple Hyatt points, 15 percent off, or plane ride/Jeep rental with dining and spa credits. The hotel also encourages donations to the Maui relief efforts of World Central Kitchen, American Red Cross and the Maui Strong Fund.
For those just not able to travel to Maui this fall, Costello suggests an appealing alternative. “Come back with the whales,” she said, referring to the annual migration of humpback whales from Alaska to Maui, roughly from mid-December through late March. “They’re our number-one repeat guests.”