Local traditions, folklore and a strong culture of wellness and sustainability offer groups numerous opportunities for an authentic Hawaiian experience at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa. We recently discussed this and more with Mike Masterson, director of sales/marketing, Maui Metro Market, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Prevue: Do you offer any team building activities that facilitate creativity amongst peers?
Masterson: At The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, we partner several destination management companies (DMC) in delivering innovative and customized team building programs for groups. Whether it’s “Build Your Own Boat”, “Hawaii Celebrity Chefs Team Cooking Challenge”, “Project Runway”, “Cake Creators” or a “Wine & Art Night”, there are plenty of unique events that would fulfill both the creative and competitive sides of the group’s attendees.
Can you recommend any festivals that provide groups with an authentic local experience?
The annual Ka’anapali Fresh is a two-day festival that features Maui-inspired cuisine paired with local farms and international wines and spirits. Organized by Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association (KBRA), the event is held during the Labor Day weekend. Here, resort and independent restaurant chefs explore the bounty of the island to design and present a selection of cuisines for two consecutive evenings. This year’s Friday evening event was held at Westin Maui’s Aloha Pavilion, with resort executive sous chef Ikaika Manaku as co-chair. The event titled ‘Aha’aina O Ka’anapali was designed to create an evening feast that showcased the evolution of dining in Hawaii in three distinctive ages: Old Hawaii; the Golden Era, and the Modern Era. The festival also featured a fun mixology session, farmers market and interactive activities within Ka’anapali.
How do your resorts integrate local traditions and customs?
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa integrates local traditions and customs through its six pillars of wellness as part of Westin’s Well-Being movement. The “Play Well” pillar, for example includes a weekly coconut husking demonstration, ukulele lessons and lei making. Yet another distinctive experience is the Wailele Polynesian Luau dinner show with dances, music and cuisine reflective of the host culture.
Are there any cultural venues that help planners maximize group ROE?
Maui Hawaiian Village offers an educational hike through the lush forest, with interactive Hawaiian practices that include poi making, Hawaiian games and hula.
How important has the term “hyperlocal” become in terms of what planners expect from your resort?
In terms of welcome amenities for group attendees, we’ve prepared model canoe display, Hualani products that are made locally as well as lavender scented oils from the fragrant Maui Lavender farms.
In what ways has your resort catered to right-brain (creative) planner requests in the past?
We’ve organized cook-off competitions with each group headed by a resort chef, designed sand-castle building contests, outrigger canoe races, beach volleyball, scavenger hunts within the resort and even a beach-clean-up for those who support green-friendly initiatives.
We’ve also helped meeting planners convert a space to be light and informal using lounge chairs and creative décor. Changing up a venue to meet the vision that the meeting planners has in mind is a trendy appeal too.