Gather round folks, as we regale you with the tale of our time spent in Maui: a wonderful time and Huffines Communities’ most successful Realtor Rewards Trip to date. We took 50 people to the beautiful island of Maui, HI as a reward for selling to the qualifying level amongst our master planned communities.
Originally planned for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, our trip was rerouted to Maui when Hurricane Irma destroyed Tortola. Maui ended up being more than a consolation prize; it was a beautiful paradise full of fun and adventure, and the setting to the most successful Realtor Rewards Trip we’ve ever had.
What qualifies this success? Firstly, more Realtors qualified than either of our previous two trips; we took twice as many people to Maui as we did Bermuda, and almost four times as many as Costa Rica! Granted, we took qualifiers from all of our communities this time, but that only means that our 50 guests came from brokerages all over the metroplex. It’s difficult to explain then, how everyone ended up being so awesome! Let’s try anyway. In a group of 50 people, every single one was gracious, kind, respectful, social, friendly, thankful, had a positive mindset, rolled with the punches, played well with others, was eager to have a good time, and was fun to be around.
All these cool folks got their first chance to meet one another at our pre-trip Ticket Party, where they were greeted with their first lei and given a beach bag full of useful swag for the trip.
From a personalized water bottle to Hawaiian chips and macadamia nuts, from travel sized cosmetics like bug spray to the leather travel document case containing their tickets and excursion information, the beach bags set the tone for how detailed we wanted to be in taking care of our Realtors.
The goal for the Huffines team was to give the Realtors the trip of a lifetime and meet their every need before they realized they even had a need. Our Realtors seemed to feel we succeeded, based on feedback we’ve received through emails and our post-trip survey.
The Ticket Happy Hour was a nice ice breaker and chance to meet the people we would be traveling with. The beach bag was very thoughtful and showed a taste of how well we were going to be taken care of during the trip. Little items like the insect repellent and poncho really showed how much time and thought was put into the trip. -Alex Cho, The Michael Group
This happy hour was also the group’s first chance to meet Steve McSwain, Owner and COO of ARTA Travel, the travel agency that helped us plan this trip.
Steve and his team played a paramount role in the success of this trip, and their contribution cannot be overstated. From identifying Maui as an alternate destination after Tortola was destroyed to flawlessly hitting every curveball the weather served us during the trip and managing any and every organizational detail associated with the resort, all we had to do was ask and no sooner was an issue presented than it was handled by Steve.
He made a huge difference in how smoothly the trip went from the perspective of the Realtors, and he freed up the Huffines team to focus on hosting our guests instead of putting out fires or running the show behind the scenes.
The first stop on our trip to Maui was the DFW airport– we had to make it to Maui!
Having received their plane tickets at the Ticket Happy Hour, everyone checked themselves in and met at the departure gate. With a group of 50, we took up quite a bit of the airplane! After getting squared away, we settled in for the 8-hour flight.
We landed in Maui at Kahului Airport, and the airport alone was pretty incredible. It was open-air; basically imagine a small airport and everywhere there should be windows, there are no windows.
It was cool and you could see a mountain from the inside of the airport immediately after exiting the airplane! We loaded up in big buses and headed to our resort.
After arriving from the airport, our group met on the resort’s “activity lawn.” What we saw when we walked outside was absolutely not done justice by that puny name.
Different tables were set up around the lawn, with a buffet on one side and an open bar in the corner.
This was our group’s first chance to hang out in Maui, and while there existed a natural inclination to stay within comfort zones, many of this social group branched out and sit with folks they’d never met. This was the beginning of new friendships forming!
The Huffines team stayed in a cottage that served as a hospitality suite for our Realtors. The kitchen was stocked with alcohol and snacks, and the cottage left open day-round for Realtors to come at their leisure, make a drink, relax on the lanai, or just hang out.
And hang out they did! It seemed like there was always somebody at the cottage enjoying the weather, company or free drinks, which is exactly what we hoped for!
Based on the amount of use the cottage saw, it was a hugely successful part of the trip, and much appreciated by our guests! The Huffines team was very pleased with how much everyone took us up on our offer to use the hospitality suite.
Each of our guests was offered their choice of one of five excursions, and the Huffines team split up to accompany each group.
The first day was the Kayak and Snorkel excursion, where we took to the ocean in two-person kayaks and headed over to the healthiest reef in Maui. For many, it was their first time snorkeling and/or kayaking, but this group faced the challenge head-on!
We were also treated to see some humpback whales surfacing very close to us! It was quite a rush knowing they could be swimming underneath us at any time and all that separated us from them were these tiny plexiglass boats.
That night was the big Luau, hosted at the Royal Lahaina Resort where we were staying. The island of Maui only has two luaus, so people came from all over the island to see the one at our resort.
Many big, long tables were set up with family-style seating, and a stage was set to one side, backed by bamboo. Another side faced the gorgeous sunset taking place as we arrived, and yet another side had huge buffet tables.
We’ve mentioned this group was adventurous, right? When the call came for audience members to learn a dance, some of our Realtors exercised their hula hips on stage! The luau was actually incredibly entertaining! A narrator charmed the audience with a story of Mauian mythology, told through dance and song as well as word. After beautiful solo and group dances, the most impressive part was the incredible fire dancer, which was exactly what it sounds like. A very brave and skilled man danced with fire. Two excursions were taking place the next day, so the Huffines team split up to accompany the adventurers. Rochelle led the bike tour on Mt. Haleakala, and Chellie led the waterfall hike in the rainforest.
Haleakala is a volcano mountain forming the east side of the island of Maui. Realtors on this tour were first driven to the breathtaking summit of the mountain, learning about the history of Maui and passing through multiple climate zones on the way.
The volcano fog, or “vog,” was thick that day, and made it feel like we were driving up through the clouds.
The views at the summit of Haleakala are absolutely stunning. Much like an image of the Grand Canyon, photos do not do the landscape justice. The vastness of the area, shadows, and multitude of subtle colors across the valleys take your breath away.
After some time exploring the summit, our bus drove the bike group part of the way back down the mountain and dropped us off at our bike excursion, at an altitude of 6500 ft.
After some quick training, we hopped on our bikes and began taking the switchbacks of the mountain. The vog was incredibly thick, all the way to the ground, and we couldn’t see much of anything.
It was a cool feeling; the lack of visibility meant we could imagine riding anywhere in the world. The vog was our mind’s canvas. With how white the air was around us it felt like we were riding through the Swiss Alps.
Our excursion leader was in school for photography, so when we stopped for a photo-op, he had some creative pose ideas. Our excursion ended below the vog, where we could finally see some of the beautiful, green scenery. Then we enjoyed lunch at a little food truck tucked off the side of a small road. It was delicious, and we entertained several special guests!
While one group was biking Haleakala, the other was enjoying the amazing beauty of the Hawaiian rainforest on foot! This excursion had the most people on it, and we had so much fun climbing through the rainforest and discovering the most beautiful waterfalls. Getting in the cool water felt great after the sweaty hike, and several brave Realtors jumped off the top edge of the waterfall into the pond!
The following day offered two more excursions which were the last Huffines-led excursions of the trip. This day was for the adrenaline-junkies among us.
The adventurous crew who chose to zipline were led up the side of a mountain overlooking our resort in Lahaina. The course featured 8 ziplines of progressive length and speed. Some of the ziplines were so long that lighter people couldn’t build enough momentum to make it all the way across, so one of our Realtors helped hold the line down to get some of the ladies all the way across!
While the zipliners were flying across the open sky, the rest of our crew was getting closer to mother nature by getting down in the dirt on ATVs. The biggest incident of our trip happened on this excursion when one pair took “getting down in the dirt” literally and nose-dived their ATV! Thanks to seat belts they were totally fine, so we can laugh about it with them! Everyone on this excursion had such a fun time! The amount of dirt on every exposed surface of each person cannot be emphasized enough. There were crusts of red dirt in our hair and it took two washes to get it out– totally worth it!
That same night was our Valentine’s Dinner, originally planned as a rooftop dining experience overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately, if you notice the dark clouds in the ATV group picture, the weather had other plans and sent crazy rains to wash out our party. Steve McSwain and our amazing resort responded immediately, coordinating to give us a home indoors and set up a Valentine’s dinner for 50 people at almost no notice.
Our group was fantastically gracious and went with the flow, making the night one of the most fun we’d had so far! It was the closest and most private our group had been all together thus far, and by that point in the week everyone was feeling comfortable with one another, so the dinner was really a blast.
The couples were able to have some romance time… And for those who were on the trip without their significant other, we were definitely not without fun! An awesome group of women who were there alone or with a female friend, as well as our father-and-son-in-law duo made up a Galentine’s table, which, in our opinion was the most fun table!
On our last full day we were supposed to have a whale-watching private sail on a catamaran as our farewell event, but with the rains still going from the day before, we were sadly unable to take to the seas. Again, our Realtors responded superbly, being absolutely gracious and understanding, and expressing gratitude for what we were able to offer nonetheless. And our superhero Steve was able to find us something else amazing, with very little time!
We ended up at Koa’s, the restaurant with the rooftop where we were supposed to dine the night prior. We were inside the restaurant, which was still lovely due to the intimate and open-air nature of the indoor space. Our group filled the restaurant and enjoyed a yummy menu.
Chellie Meziere, the leader of the Huffines team, took this final night as an opportunity to give out little prizes she’d collected along the way to different guests for winning in different made-up categories! The Realtors also completely blindsided the Huffines team, by presenting Chellie and Rochelle with thank you notes signed by the entire group, and gift cards for us to get a massage. It was so unexpected and a huge blessing! The gift cards were so appreciated, but it was the notes that really took our breath away. Full disclosure: tears were shed.
Our final day on the island of Maui was sunny and beautiful, and it seemed we all got the memo to spend it at the beach. Many of our group could be seen soaking up rays in the sun, reminiscing about the week over one last cocktail, or hitting the ocean on paddleboards for one last ride.
The fun didn’t end with what Huffines had planned, in fact, that was just the beginning of what the Realtors got into while we were there. When there were no planned events or excursions during the week our group spread out to explore the island or hit the beach at the resort. During one of these times, the Huffines team joined some of our friends to see what Maui had to offer and ended up at an exotic Hawaiian supermarket. Another of our guests connected with the local culture by buying a ukelele and, not knowing how to play it, took a class offered by our resort! He is now known as Rockstar Randy. Others made sure to check off Maui Must-Dos, like driving the Road to Hana to see the black sand beaches, or visit the famous Blowhole… …or eat at the famous Mama’s Fish House. Two couples visited not one, but two escape rooms on the island! They must be the rare kind of partners who only get stronger by putting together Ikea furniture. Many enjoyed the extensive breakfast buffet at the resort where little birdies would fly in and hang out.
While there were palm trees and sandy beaches in some places, the landscape of Maui was very diverse, with many parts of the island resembling California. In fact, some visitors from California said that Maui is such a popular destination for Californians they refer to the island as “Mauifornia,” and it’s partly due to the similarity in the environment.
And, like California, Maui has some spectacular whale watching! Although our group’s whale watching excursion didn’t happen- it was supposed to be a surprise feature of our farewell cruise that got canceled because of the weather- plenty of whales were still seen by our group! On the bus ride from the airport to the resort, on the kayak snorkel excursion, and on the many whale watching tours members of our group took in their free time.
The feedback we received more than anything else was an appreciation for how over-the-top the trip was, how every little detail was considered and taken care of, and how all the little finishing touches made certain facets EXTRA special.
The credit for ALL of that goes to the Huffines Marketing Director, and McSam Marketing Director of the Year 2016- Chellie Meziere.
Chellie worked tirelessly and used her creative spirit to make sure every single detail that could possibly be made better or more special was addressed, and any possible needs the Realtors may have on the trip were met before we ever embarked.
“Chellie-wow!! Wowee…Maui! Thank you again for going way above and beyond to make the trip a spectacular memorable time in our lives. Todd and I had such a great time spending time with such terrific people.”
– Colleen Frost, Frost Realty Group
A very special and gigantic THANK YOU goes out to Steve McSwain and his team at ARTA Travel. Steve was an absolute godsend on this trip.
He took care of arranging all our excursions, transportation, group events, accommodations within the hotel, and all logistics for the entire trip, not the least of which included having to come up with new plans last-minute when the weather didn’t allow us to have our rooftop Valentine’s Dinner or our farewell catamaran cruise.
Steve was the real MVP of the week, and the Huffines team agrees that we’ll never do another rewards trip without him.
And finally, thank you to all the Realtors and their guests who made this trip what it was.
You all were hands down, far and away the most enjoyable part of the trip.
The relationships built and fun times that were had made all the planning and promotion of the trip worth it, and we sincerely hope every single one of you will be able to join us on next year’s trip: