Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Can you believe it’s August already? It feels like the summer is flying by. I took a few weeks off from writing this weekly newsletter to focus on client work (it’s been BUSY!) and generally catch up.
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. Typically held in Las Vegas, it’s the week where we meet with travel suppliers from all over the globe, and as you can imagine it’s very exciting and informative. This and last year, the conference is virtual, so I’ll be locked into my screen for many meetings, so I can report back to you the best of the best in travel!
To get the latest info and not miss out, I highly recommend scheduling a consultation with me soon for any travel plans you have in mind for 2022. With so much pent-up demand, starting the process early is key. Some destinations (like Hawaii) are already booking up through next summer as my suppliers have reported to me just last week. You can simply reply to this email or schedule here: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Speaking of Hawaii, I’ve been spending a great deal of time planning vacations and honeymoons to these magnificent islands. I’m considered a Hawaii expert as I’ve taken the tourism board course to be certified as such and have been there myself. However, my knowledge base has been updated exponentially with the many recent changes to Hawaiian tourism thanks to our unwanted friend covid.
Read on for the latest scoop on Hawaii – the good and the not so good news…
What’s the deal with Hawaii right now?
Hawaii has been very strict in terms of covid protocols. Over the past year, I’ve kept close tabs on tweets from Governor David Ige to keep in the know by the minute. To make matters even more complicated, different islands have had different protocols. I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s been a rough ride navigating the requirements and changes.
My clients who went to Hawaii in March and those that went this summer had huge differences in their experiences. Spring was relatively quiet but summer brought American travelers to Hawaii in droves, largely due to the challenges of international travel, and it has greatly stressed the tourism industry. Travelers who didn’t book early couldn’t get dinner reservations or rental cars and battled crowds.
My travel suppliers in Hawaii are reporting that this trend is continuing through the summer of 2022. In fact, the best accommodations are booking up quickly already! An example is the new and highly desirable towers at the Westin Maui Resort and Spa which are booking up quickly for next summer. The same goes for the Four Seasons suites, a client favorite on Maui and Oahu.
Another important note is that Hawaii has always been considered an expensive destination. While there were some “deals” earlier this year, the prices have skyrocketed due to the 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.
Bottom line – if you have Hawaii on your near-term radar, book now for next year, and I’ll be happy to help you. It may take some time to get quotes as the staff is inundated, but we can make it happen!!
💎 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. Remember my advice for travel in the new normal, Pack Your Patience, and all will be good!
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 like where to stay on the island and what tours are your must-dos. 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.
As mentioned before, first-time visitors need to know that Hawaii is expensive. There are ways to maximize your budget (included breakfast daily when you book with one of the hotels in my network – a huge $$$ value especially in Hawaii) and prioritize. I pass on this information to my clients with the latest scoop 😊
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 2022, 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. With decreased availability of rental cars in Hawaii right now, this option is fantastic until the issue is sorted.
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 those 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 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. Check out the social media pages this coming week for more info on this spectacular property.
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 beat (Virtuoso perks may apply). 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? If the latest scoop on Hawaii – the good and the not so good news – has you intrigued and wanting more details, schedule a chat at www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact.
Wishing you and your family continued good health,