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Visiting Maui After the Wildfires
September 2023

By Steve Orens, President, Plaza Travel

The Annual Signature Travel Network Owners Conference was scheduled to be held one month after the Maui wildfires. We planned to go to Maui, but were to stay at the Grand Wailea, not in West Maui (the area impacted by the wildfires). After much deliberation, the event went forward, and boy was it a good thing.

When I left LAX, my flight was only about half full. Upon landing in Maui, I saw hundreds of parked rental cars due to the drastic drop in visitors. You could just walk into Mama’s Fish House without a reservation (IYKYK). FYI – on my last day in Maui I went by Mama’s and we couldn’t just walk in without a reservation anymore.

During our time in Maui, we heard from countless tourism officials and businesses, thanking us for continuing our conference as planned. The most profound quote I heard was, “What the fires did not destroy, an empty deserted island will.”

Top left image: Steve Orens with colleagues at the Signature Travel Network Owners Conference / Top right image: Supplies being organized for donations in Maui / Bottom image: Signature Travel Network Owners Conference group gathered together

As a group we pivoted our planned day of excursions to helping where we could. We had about 450 people and we all brought over extra suitcases with toiletries, clothing, diapers, and other much needed supplies. We spent all day organizing supplies to be delivered to shelters, caring for animals at the Maui Humane Society, and preparing food for those in need. The meals we prepared were possible due to donations of food, donation of the staff’s time at numerous hotels, as well as donations of time from delivery companies to get the needed supplies/meals to those who needed them most. The entire island came together to support each other. It was one of my best visits to Maui.

Top left image: Steve and Gail Orens at Grand Wailea / Top right image: Palm trees / Bottom left image: Bananas / Bottom right image: Hana-Maui Resort

Speaking of visiting Maui, I’ve been going to Hawaii for almost 40 years, and have never done the “Drive to Hana.” Looking to enjoy parts of the island I had missed over the years, I did the drive. I had an amazing tour guide, saw so many amazing sites and areas of natural beauty, and had some of the best banana bread around. I didn’t do the out and back drive as many do, but instead I stayed two nights at Hana-Maui Resort. Recently taken over by Hyatt, this is a hidden gem. While there are only two places to eat in town, the natural beauty, lack of hordes of people and some amazing hikes made this an area I will come back to. There are less than 100 rooms in Hana so it can’t get that busy (yet), so take advantage of this special place sooner than later.


Left image: Waterfall in Hana, Maui / Top right image: Steve and Gail Orens on Maui coast / Bottom right: Private jacuzzi at Hana-Maui Resort

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