A first-time Travel & Leisure (T&L) writer/tourist to Maui writes all about a $2,500+ night accommodation, forgets to mention that the wildlife he’s snorkeling with is endangered, or the issues about the Road to Hana he recommends, and flies Southwest to get here. Hmmm. Strange juxtapositions to be sure, especially coming from the once venerated T&L.
Regular commenter Lee T said: “I have experienced more first-time travelers to Hawaii recently than in the past 40 years. The US culture is becoming more demanding & entitled & not just for tourists in Hawaii. People are exposed more to short-term gratification rather than taking time to learn about the culture & people in the areas they are visiting. Hawaii is creating a divide between tourists & locals with their added fees for tourists only. You don’t get this when traveling stateside. The influx of new residents to Hawaii is also changing the culture of the islands. Less grace & aloha as some of these new locals bring some kooky entitlement attitudes with them. Hopefully, more tourists & new locals will be “won” over & embrace the Hawaiian culture & aloha.”
The T&L article, which we saw right after reading Lee’s comment, caught our attention, but unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. It was written by William Curtis, whose T&L credentials say he “is an avid traveler who studied languages at university, largely due to the promise of a year living overseas.” This was admittedly his first trip to Hawaii.
We’re not even sure what the article’s purpose was, since it is primarily an advertorial for high-end Montage Kapalua Bay rather than almost anything about the experience of Maui. The author doesn’t state whether or not he paid for his stay there, but based on our read, we’d surmise he did not. It also struck us as odd that while staying in a 2-bedroom suite that starts at over $2,500/night, the author flew economy-focused Southwest Airlines from LA to Maui.
Again never indicating whether or not the stay at Montage was paid for or comped, the author said merely, “We had the fortune of staying at Montage Kapalua Bay, and one of the hotel’s fleet of Cadillacs was duly awaiting our arrival.”
Why should you care if the writer received a complimentary stay?
Case in point. When we did our recent flight reviews on Alaska, Southwest, and Hawaiian, we paid our way by purchasing tickets online and did not tell the airlines we were coming. That way, we felt we could write an honest review of our experiences. When free trips and stays are given, we believe you lose credibility because it’s hard to be objective. We also note that famed travel writer, Andrew Doughty, keeps his identity hidden so his Kauai Revealed books and others can be impartial.
“An hour spent slowly following a family of turtles eating their breakfast.”
We’ll skip over all the excessive accolades for Kapalua (we’re still scratching our heads about the Southwest connection) because what caught our attention was for one thing was the part about snorkeling with turtles. “An hour spent slowly following a family of turtles eating their breakfast.” Followed by more accolades or advertorial content which seems beneath the old T&L we used to have much respect for.
A budget may have been no issue other than the Southwest experience. “Our breakfast favorites included lobster eggs benedict, and the house-made granola served out of a famous local Maui Gold pineapple.”
Staying ultra-high-end, the Montage guest said, “we did indulge in what is, for me, one of the real highlights of the Montage’s guest program: the in-house chef experience.”
The article ends with, “You can take one of the hotel’s new Cadillacs to drive to a local surf spot or explore the famous Road to Hana.”
1. We can’t imagine writing an article about snorkeling with turtles without even a mention of their federally and state-protected status and the fact that they are endangered. Or how to behave appropriately around turtles in Hawaii. Lack of awareness regarding Hawaii wildlife leads to incidents like this, where a Hawaii visitor picked up an endangered green sea turtle.
Getting close to these animals may constitute a federal or state violation if the animal is disturbed or if your action has the potential to disturb its natural behavioral patterns. NOAA and DLNR recommend, for your safety and the animals’ protection, that everyone stay at least 10 feet (3 meters) from all sea turtles. — Hawaii DLNR.
2. In writing about traveling the Road to Hana, it is also important to mention the road is plagued by multiple issues that visitors should be aware of before driving there.
This summer, no parking signs were installed at seven popular stops on the road. That was because visitor cars were parking on the highway, which has caused a traffic snarl on the narrow winding road for years. The no parking situation should be noted at the following locations: Bamboo Forest, Ching’s Pond, Hanawi Stream Bridge, Puaa Kaa Park, Twin Falls, Waikamoi Stream Bridge, and Waikani Stream Bridge.
The Maui Fire Department said that rescues in these areas, especially at Bamboo Forest, have been reduced by the no parking signage, among other things. They also said they do not condone trespassing for recreational purposes and strongly recommend hikers remain on marked and open trails.
Visitors to those areas should use caution, not park before or after the no parking sign, and not walk on the narrow, dangerous highway.
Also, at Twin Falls, there is now a limit on parking availability and the number of daily visitors.
How important is this topic to you?
If you know the travel writer received free travel, does that make you more likely to question their reviews? Mahalo for commenting below.