The Incentive Research Foundation’s (IRF) latest annual conference wowed over 200 incentive planners with Maui’s aloha spirit (emoting good feelings toward others).
Add in the farm- and sea-to-table culinary scene, stellar accommodation choices, natural beauty and the myriad of activity choices and it’s no wonder that Maui can be counted on as a winning choice for your next meeting and incentive.
The IRF conference was headquartered at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, one of six properties on the south side of the island in Wailea. This area’s mild climate makes it an ideal location for outdoor events, and the resorts offer a multitude of options. All properties face the Pacific Ocean and are connected by a pathway at the ocean’s edge. During the conference, the Grand Wailea, Fairmont Kea Lani and Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort put on evening receptions and attendees were able to walk to them along the pathway. Each resort displayed the variety and fresh regional Hawaiian cuisine for which Maui is known.
“We live to create extraordinary lifetime memories. The only thing that matters to us is that you feel our aloha.”
Meet Hawaii is the first point of contact for planners looking to conduct meetings, conventions and incentive business. “The aloha spirit is part of collaboration, teamwork and creativity, all making for a successful meeting and incentive event,” says Mary Neister, VP of Meet Hawaii. “Hawaii is an ideal destination for doing business in a setting that inspires productivity and innovation. With culture and a vibrant culinary scene and friendly people who embody the aloha spirt, we can create your most memorable meeting. Our experienced sales team has helped planners execute some of their most productive meetings in the most culturally diverse destination in the United States.”
Grand Wailea Resort
This property sits on 40 oceanfront acres with 776 guestrooms, 56 suites and 60 three-bedroom villas. Groups can meet in the 26,700 sf Haleakala ballroom and 22 other meeting rooms and six outside function facilities. The layout of the resort allows for groups to have privacy away from leisure guests that are in-house, says Brian Lynx, director of sales and marketing.
“We live to create extraordinary lifetime memories. The only thing that matters to us is that you feel our aloha.” As a guest of the resort, I understood what Brian meant.
The resort team provides service with passion and they were responsive to our group and individual needs. Another venue, which also speaks to the culinary excellence of this resort and the Hawaiian farm-to-fork movement, is their signature restaurant, Humuhumunukunukapua’a. This restaurant is perfect for a buyout of up to 150 with lagoons and ocean views in a Polynesian-style setting, sunset included. Local farmers and fisherman contribute to the menu and we loved the fresh and palate-pleasing dishes—from their local opakapaka fish, with ginger rice, dark soya and scallion vinaigrette to crispy mahi mahi, served with forbidden rice and baby bok choy and their Maui cattle butchers steak, with red miso and charred scallions.
Fairmount Kea Lani
This resort offers 413 suites (including 37 villas) and is the only all-suite luxury product in the area. The Fairmont was the host of the IRF auction and the lavish dinner that followed. The signature restaurant, KÕ is also available for groups to buyout. The award-winning restaurant tells the story of the local culture not only through its name, but the design of the restaurant, along with its cuisine, which gets its inspiration from the vast collection of ethnicities brought together during Maui’s sugarcane plantation era. We found the culinary experience at KÕ exceptional and loved the “wellness offerings” on the menu. KÕ offers special dishes as part of its “Inspire Your Energy” program, which provides groups “an integrated approach to wellness by connecting fitness, nutrition and personal passions while enjoying the tropical outdoor surroundings of Wailea,” according to the menu. We delighted in the Maui kale salad, which featured their local curly kale and a ti leaf-wrapped island fresh catch (this time it was monchong, a mild white fish), steamed with coconut, mango salsa and served with molokai sweet potato and asparagus.
“We are very proud of the culinary excellence at our resort,” says Shannah Milstead, director of sales and marketing for the resort. “We find that groups enjoy experiences that enhance their connection with the water, land, culture and themselves and we incorporate those elements throughout our resort programming.”
Team Building & Rewarding Activities
Groups in Maui have numerous choices for unforgettable destination experiences—from rappelling down waterfalls, upcountry horseback riding and zip lining, to golf, snorkeling, sailing, and local culture and culinary tours. For example, groups can visit the Surfing Goat Dairy for a private tour of the facility, meet and feed the goats and then collect the milk that it is used in creating artisanal cheeses. Then there is the cheese tasting experience! There are also similar experiences at Maui Wine, where local estate wines are made, and at Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery, where groups can see the process of sustainable cane farming and the production of the local Ocean Vodka and Deep Wave Rum. Another amazing culinary tour is at O‘o Farm in upcountry Maui. They offer customized events for up to 100 that feature tours and wine, and dinners with foods that are harvested right on their farm.
Planners will have no problem curating an experience of a lifetime for their groups in Maui, with aloha spirit, amazing resort choices, culinary excellence and destination experiences that all come together in harmony.