I’m back safe and sound on the mainland as of yesterday morning, and wanted to fill you all on in the excruciatingly boring details of my week in Maui. This was the first company sales meeting I have attended, so it was a good opportunity to meet people and get some serious work done. (:::snort!::: )
My trip started with my 7:25 a.m. flight Thursday out of Rona . . . Ron . . . oh, I can’t say it—out of National Airport in DC to Dallas/Ft. Worth. We (my two cow-orkers and me) arrived at DFW well ahead of schedule, and made our way to the gate for our connecting flight. After a little while, members of our Denver, Dallas, San Antonio, Miami and Cleveland offices began arriving as well, sharing our flight to Maui.
We departed DFW at 10:25 local time. The flight itself was smooth as glass for the most part. I skipped the movie – Remember The Titans – because living in Alexandria, VA, I had seen so much press on it when it came out it felt like I had already seen it. I did switch seats with my boss and ended up sitting next to some annoying woman who had the window seat. She kept fidgeting, sighing, standing up, going to the bathroom, opening and closing the shade, for eight hours. At least the food was good, and there were plenty of drinks.
We arrived at Kahului Airport around 3:30 local time, got our luggage and collected our rental cars/met our rides. We then made our way to the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort, checking in around 5:00. I headed to my room to unpack, then met with some people for dinner in the hotel sushi bar/grill. The hotel itself was beautifully put together, with an open-air atrium decorated with plants and containing areas with penguins, macaws and other wildlife; it branched off on either side to areas of shops and restaurants, with guest room towers at either end.
That night, I met 10 other co-workers for the hotel’s “Tour of the Stars” program. They have a station on the roof of one tower of the hotel with several telescopes and binoculars, including a 15” reflector. The skies were quite clear, and I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) to see how near the zenith the ecliptic runs at that latitude.
The next day was a free day, so after breakfast I met with my roommate and some other people, and we basically sat by the pool all day. We had lunch at the poolside grill. That evening, our company founder/president/CEO held a reception at his house, about a mile from the hotel and about 300 ft. more elevated inland. His patio had a beautiful view of the ocean, Kaanapali beach, and the island of Lanai beyond. Much alcohol was imbibed that evening, and a lot of catching up was done with people we were meeting face-to-face for the first time or hadn’t seen in a year. We returned to the hotel around 10:00 p.m. and a bunch of us, after a nightcap, met up for a late-night jacuzzi/swim. (Did I mention the hotel pools were open 24 hours?)
Saturday morning the business meetings began, lasting from 8:00 a.m. to just after noon. Several members of the company were going on a kayak trip that afternoon. I rented a bike from the hotel activities desk and went for a ride up and down the beach area, had some lunch, and relaxed by the pool. That evening, everyone attending met up to attend the hotel’s luau show, which was frankly repetitive and boring, not to mention not vegetarian friendly.
Sunday, more meetings in the morning, followed by Beach Olympics. We split up into six teams of 15 each and went through several events, including an obstacle course and outrigger canoe race. My team, which serendipitously included our National Sales VP and some very high-profile salespeople (much schmoozing there), came in second place overall. The Olympics were interrupted briefly as we all turned to look offshore towards Lahaina, where we saw our first whales of the trip. They were quite a way away, but we saw several plumes and a couple of whales breached.
Everyone had a lot of fun, but we were hungry, because we had started right after the meetings without having lunch. Eight of us got together and went for a stroll up the “Beach Walk,” which connects together all the hotels/resorts/condos on Kaanapali, and had lunch and drinks at the (believe it or not) “Hula Grill.”
Sunday night, some of us decided to head outside the resort area into the town of Lahaina and go to dinner. We ended up with a group of 14 people, and we went to David Paul’s Lahaina Grill, which is a pretty upscale place. One of the salespeople attending is quite well-versed in wine, having several wineries as clients, so we let him handle the wine list. I ordered the arugula and pecan-encrusted goat cheese salad, the Vegetable Wellington for an entrée, and shared a crème brulee for dessert. Between the 14 of us, the total tab came to an astounding $982! Easily worth it, however—the food was the best I’ve had in a while. Afterwards, about 10 of us headed to a local bar called Moose McGillicuddy’s, where there was more drinking, dancing (not by me) and socializing.
Monday morning, more meetings. Monday afternoon, more pool. Then we all met at Lahaina Harbor for our awards dinner cruise. We did see several whales, including some within about 200 yards (the legal limit for boats to approach whales is 100 yards). Unfortunately, for some people, food, drink and cruising didn’t mix, so we returned to harbor an hour early. Several of us, in a celebratory mood because our offices had won awards, stayed in town and had some drinks at a couple of local places. Surprisingly, many bars closed down quite early there.
Tuesday, about 40 of us awoke early to make it to Ma’aleaa Harbor by 6:30 a.m. We took a tour on the “Maui Magic” catamaran, which took us down the coast of Maui towards Makena, out to Molokini Crater, then back towards the coast for snorkeling and lunch. This was the first time I had ever been snorkeling, and after a few minutes of adjustment, I had an amazing time. We saw several species of fish, a sea turtle, a couple of eels, and some amazing coral. We also, on the outward trip, saw many whales, including a couple that breached, and on the return trip saw a group of six or seven large turtles swimming near the surface. We arrived back at the harbor around noon, and I spent the rest of the day relaxing at the pool, turning in to bed early.
Wednesday morning, after breakfast, I ran into my old boss from the Cleveland office, and we decided to see a few things that day before heading home. We visited the Maui Ocean Center aquarium, where we had lunch and saw several interesting exhibits including turtles, manta rays and blacktip sharks. From there we headed to a plantation whose name escapes me but where bananas, mangos, sugarcane, breadfruit and other produce was grown, and walked around the grounds for a while. After that, we took in Iao Valley State Park, then headed to the airport for the trip back.
My flight left Kahului at 6:15 p.m. I again skipped the movie (Woman On Top), and tried to get some sleep. Drifting in and out, I slept for maybe three hours. We arrived at DFW at 5:00 a.m. local time to make a 6:25 connecting flight, getting us back into National at 10:00 a.m. I was met at the Metro station at the airport by Leigh-Anne, who took me home, fed me and put me to bed to cure my jetlag!
It was an absolutely terrific trip—I took a couple rolls of pictures that I will scan and put up as soon as I get them developed. I’m sure you all missed me terribly, but now the ordeal is over!