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Conscious Travel: Maui

Investing in respectful vacationing to embrace communities and help them recover

Article by Paige Candee

Photography by Paige Candee, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Fairmont Kea Lani

Originally published in South Vegas City Lifestyle

I am one of those many people who love Maui. I remember visiting as a child and reeling in the beauty, exploration, and wonder that unfolds around every corner. The enchantment persisted into adulthood, as I strolled through Lahaina's charming streets, savored Mai Tais against Kaanapali's sunset hues, and embraced the magic of getting engaged at the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools) after ascending the road to Hana. Maui, with its allure and magic, has always held a special place in my heart.

Then came the devastating fires in August 2023, resulting in the loss of loved ones, pets, homes, schools, cultural and historical sites, and businesses. The fires burned much of Lahaina to the ground, destroying almost 3,000 structures, and claiming over 100 lives, making it one of the world’s deadliest wildfires on record.

In the aftermath, there were discouraging messages that urged tourists to stay away from the island. Such advice, though well-intentioned, was misguided. While the fires had a devastating impact, avoiding tourism exacerbates the challenges faced by businesses, the local economy, and, consequently, the locals.

Closed for residents' respect and ongoing cleanup, Lahaina contrasts with much of the island relying on visitors. The fires brought heartache for Maui, and Las Vegas, known as the Ninth Island due to its substantial Hawaiian population, serves as a crucial support network. Your neighbors' families and friends may have been impacted; many who lost homes relocated to the valley. I decided to contribute to the recovery by raising awareness and extending assistance with sensitivity. I urge you to join in cultivating the aloha spirit by investing in compassion. Your mindful visit can play a crucial role in providing support.

Engaging as a family with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement at the Kākoʻo Maui DC-Distribution Center, a resource hub for communities affected by the Maui wildfires (, became a transformative experience. Sorting clothing and donated goods, our interactions were deeply meaningful as many sought assistance for the first time. Approaching with dignity, we discussed supply needs, learned about losses and challenges. As personal shoppers, we selected essential items like food, pots, pans, baby formula, toiletries, and more. Heartfelt stories emerged, with some sharing the hardships of multi-generational living. Grandparents detailed caring for newborns and many children while their adult children sought employment. These narratives touched our hearts, fueling our commitment to the mission.

During the latter part of our journey, we lodged in Wailea, an impressive resort community in South Maui known for its picturesque crescent-shaped beaches. The goal for our stay was to actively immerse ourselves in the local hospitality industry.

Initially, we roomed at the stunning Fairmont Kea Lani (, Hawaii’s only all-suite and villa oceanfront resort perched on Maui's south shore in Wailea. With 22 acres of tropical beauty, the recently transformed property provides an authentic immersion into Hawaiian culture and impeccable personal service, embodying the essence of aloha.

The Fairmont Kea Lani recently completed a multi-year transformation, unveiling a redesigned lobby, bar/restaurant, and cultural center. The property now features 413 one-bedroom suites and 37 two-story villas, all artfully redesigned to reflect the island's heritage and enhance Hawaii's natural beauty. Collaborating with Native Hawaiian elders with lineal ties to the resort's location, the concept, design, and names were carefully crafted.

Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted with fresh leis and the transformation unfolded with the expansive open-air lobby adorned with vaulted ceilings, ceiling-to-floor waterfalls, art sculptures, lush gardens, and captivating ocean vistas.

Beyond the lobby, Hale Kukuna, the new open-air cultural center, serves as a hub for community connection. Offering classes, workshops, and a curated collection of relics and artwork, this space enables guests and locals to explore and appreciate Hawaiian culture, symbolizing the resort’s commitment to sharing the island's history and fostering a deeper respect for Hawaiian traditions.

Adjacent is Pilina, the new bar and lounge designed to seamlessly integrate with the island’s soothing beauty. Featuring monkey-pod wood architecture illustrating the rhythmic flow of waves, it's the perfect spot to savor culinary-focused cocktails and raw bites sourced 90 percent from local ingredients while witnessing breathtaking sunsets and catching glimpses of passing whales.

Beyond its cultural enhancements and generously spacious suites, Fairmont Kea Lani offers a spa and wellness program, additional dining options, and three pools, including an adults-only tranquility pool.

During my family’s stay at the exceptional property, our mornings were serenaded by chirping birds as we savored Nespresso on our balcony, framed by cascading bougainvillea. After delightful alfresco breakfasts of local specialties at The Kea Lani Restaurant, our afternoons unfolded poolside with refreshing dips, waterslide riding, pool basketball games, and swim-up bar enjoyment. Each evening had a different activity such as an outdoor family movie or dinner at the delicious Kō restaurant with its sustainable, authentic, and local fare.

The Fairmont Kea Lani and its amenities are deeply rooted in culture, driven by community, and presented with Aloha. In the wake of the recent fires, this connection feels especially fitting.

Our finale was a stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Nestled along Maui's premier southwestern coastline on Mōkapu Beach, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort ( epitomizes refined luxury. This breathtaking 15-acre beachfront property is a modern masterpiece featuring a tiered terrace that unfolds with spectacular beauty and experiences on each level. The crown jewel of the resort is its three cascading outdoor infinity pools, offering unobstructed ocean views and a tranquil setting where it's hard to distinguish between the undulating pool water and the vast sea just beyond. The property is a testament to flawless planning, with well-thought-out architecture capturing reflections of water, palm trees, and ocean on floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests can indulge in the paradise that is the Andaz, where every detail, from the lush landscaping with flowering plumeria trees and Hawaiian plants to the tiered infinity pools, creates a harmonious and unforgettable vacation.


This flagship property of the Andaz brand in a resort destination, features 320 guestrooms, including 35 suites and 30 contemporary villas with tropical views and direct beach access. Recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, the property underwent a tasteful redesign and key enhancements to common areas, suites, and guest rooms.

We experienced The Villas at Andaz Maui, an exquisite retreat ideal for multigenerational families or large groups. The 19 'Ilikai Villas, a collection of 1900-square-foot, 3-bedroom residences, offer a gourmet Bosch kitchen, washer/dryer, private lanai with a Viking grill, and ocean or garden views. Ground-level villas feature a private plunge pool and expansive lawn, while the penthouse offers 3,750 square feet of living space and a glass-bottom cantilevered pool. Guests in any of the 30 villas enjoy direct access to the resort's VIP concierge for a personalized experience.

Beyond its stunning accommodations and cascading pools, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort offers an adults-only pool near the 'Āwili Spa and Salon (don't miss the apothecary excursion or the connect massage with Hawaiian aroma therapy). The resort features an art gallery, fitness center, over 52,000 square feet of outdoor event space, award-winning regional farm-to-table dining at Ka’ana Kitchen, savory Japanese fusion cuisine at Morimoto Maui, poolside lunches at Bumbye Beach Bar, and craft cocktails at Lehua Lounge.

Guests can tailor their stay with the Guest Experience Team, creating personalized itineraries that include fitness or art classes and cultural activities like coconut leaf weaving (especially recommended, especially with children), outrigger canoeing, or ukulele and hula lessons.

As the sun set into the reflective Pacific on our last evening, we enjoyed the Feast at Mokapu Luau. Welcomed by vibrant Hawaiian performers, they set the stage for a spiritual journey, blending culture, history, music, dance, and artistry. Our exploration of Maui's rich heritage was complemented by a delightful three-course dinner and handcrafted signature cocktails.

Our conscious travel journey revealed that aloha goes beyond a greeting; it's a call to mindfulness and respect. From savoring poke to embracing black sand beaches, each moment became an opportunity for meaningful connection, guided by compassion, empathy, and acts of kindness. As we explored the road to Hana and the entire island, we packed not just essentials but also compassion and kindness, understanding that aloha encompasses hospitality, charity, integrity, patience, and unconditional love for our fellow humans. In conscious travel, the aloha spirit guides us to approach each experience with a heart full of warmth and understanding.

In a poignant and beautiful irony, I can't help but recognize that while visitors have long visited Maui seeking healing for their mind, body, and soul, the island now seeks healing through conscious travelers. I encourage you to embark on your journey with a spirit of compassion, aiming to leave not only footprints but also a legacy of respect and care for the communities that contribute to making this island a cherished place.