The 50th state is 🥁…

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! We’re in the dog days of summer – do you love the heat or not so much?

The month of August is key for travel professionals. Those of us in the Virtuoso network have Virtuoso Travel Week the second week of the month each year. Dubbed the “fashion week for travel” and held in Las Vegas, it’s the week where I meet with travel suppliers from all over the globe, and as you can imagine it’s very exciting and informative. Just like last year, I’ll report back to you about the best of the best in travel!

Given how hectic this month is, I’ll be updating a couple of previously published newsletters covering some of the most popular travel destinations.

Hawaii is a frequently requested destination for couples and families. Just last week, I had two consultations for Hawaii in 2023 and answered many FAQs.

I’m considered a Hawaii expert as I’ve taken the tourism board course to be certified as such and have been there myself. Read on for the latest scoop on Hawaii, our 50th state…

First-timers to Hawaii

I’m often asked which islands to choose when going to Hawaii for the first time. The answer is ‘it depends’, but you can’t go wrong with Maui. Maui has it all – gorgeous scenery, incredible beaches, fantastic restaurants, amazing resorts for couples and families alike, stunning villas, fantastic nightlife, family activities galore, interesting culture and foodie experiences … and a volcano! There are many decision points and that’s where having a well-informed travel advisor is key.

First-time visitors to Hawaii need to know that you have to fly between islands (too far for ferry service). So if you only have one week, I recommend focusing on one island or two maximum. There’s much to explore on each Hawaiian Island, and it’s hard to fit it all in – that’s a given unless you’re there for a month.

Hawaii is in Demand

Hawaii has always been considered a pricey destination and prices have skyrocketed due to demand. Knowing your budget range when beginning to plan is key to making your booking a smooth process. If you’re someone who has champagne taste but a prosecco budget for your vacation, then it’s important to be realistic from the outset.

People often ask if there are all-inclusive properties (like those you find in Mexico) and the answer is no. However, Virtuoso network resorts will include breakfast which is a very valuable perk!

Bottom line – if you have Hawaii on your near-term radar, book now for next year, and I’ll be happy to help you sort through the options.

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Hawaii is on “Aloha time” time typically; it’s part of their culture. Sometimes this requires patience as it’s quite different from what we are used to in NYC or LA.

Cruises & Guided Tours

If you’re open to a cruise and want to see several islands in a week’s time, then there are a few options. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America has a comprehensive itinerary but isn’t for everyone. Known as “the only cruise sailing 4 Hawaiian Islands in 7 days year-round,” I work closely with NCL and have access to the latest scoop and available perks if this idea interests you. There are a few other options for cruises, and I can help you sort it out and decide if a cruise is right for you.

Also, there are small group tour operators that offer multi-island trips. For 2023, this might be a perfect option as the tour will allow you to experience an island without the hassle of navigating it on your own.

Off The Beaten Path

Less crowded and commercial than Maui is Kauai or the Big Island. They are quite different but equally spectacular!

Kauai has Jurassic Park-type landscapes, and it’s considered the “garden island.” There are fewer places to stay and less tourism infrastructure. It’s fantastic for a chill, nature-focused vacation.

The Big Island is remarkably diverse and as its name suggests – large. It’s bigger than all the other islands combined and larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. So, you’ll do quite a bit of driving to see the many sights – Volcanoes National Park being one of the must-dos! I absolutely love the Big Island. You can feel connected to the people, history, and culture when there.

Or if you want to trek off the beaten path, enjoy a quiet experience, and have a healthy budget, I recommend Lanai. This island has no stoplights and only two resorts, one of which is the gorgeous Four Seasons Lanai (pictured above) a Virtuoso Best of the Best property! Golfers love Lanai and people who want to experience a tranquil, secluded vacation – or want this vibe for a few days to start or end their time in the Hawaiian Islands.

What About Oahu?

Oahu is a study in contrasts – from bustling Waikiki to the rainforest and majestic landscapes in the North to its importance in American history with Pearl Harbor.

If you have littles, Aulani, the Disney resort is fantastic, and for luxury budgets, the Four Seasons can’t be beaten (Hidden Gem Travel clients get valuable perks). However, there are many other options and decision points to deciding if you want to spend time on Oahu.

A recent client who went to Oahu told me that I found the perfect resort that she hadn’t found in her own googling. She had no idea it existed! Yes, it’s one of my faves on Oahu – fantastic location, great Virtuoso network perks, and the staff is incredible. That’s the heart of the Hidden Gem difference!

Inspired? Reply to this email or schedule a chat at

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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