Posted by: marksimon | April 9, 2008

Wow Stories: Going the Extra Mile for Guests

In our business it’s sometimes the smallest things that can make a positive impression on our guests. We have some pretty dramatic stories that I will share in this forum from time to time but here’s a little one that went a long way:

One of our attendants in the Games Room noted that a certain guest tried to purchase Diet Coke from the machine but two days in a row the machine was sold out of Diet Coke. Rather than see our guest disappointed, the attendant asked if the guest would be in the games room for awhile, which the guest said he would. The attendant then ran down to room service to get a couple of Diet Cokes for the guest and made his day! It’s a small thing but among all the other good experiences that happened during his Four Seasons stay, the guest could not stop talking about the thoughtful gesture.

Posted by: marksimon | April 4, 2008

Ziplines in Maui!

While paddleboarding is the hottest new adventure on the sea, Ziplining is the hottest on the land, or should I say in the sky? Our concierge recommends Skyline Eco Adventures, which has operations both Upcountry on the slope of Haleakala, or a bit further afield, an operation in Ka’anapali. If you have never gone ziplining, it is a thrill! The last time I went was in Whistler, BC. It was a little cool and rainy that day and there was a sort of other-worldly mist rising. It was an absolute blast, and you can reach speeds of up to 35 MPH, they told us.

The Maui Ziplines in the Upcountry are even more picturesque, skirting the forest line, halfway up the dormant volcano crater of Haleakala. You can really fly on these lines, and they even have an Indiana Jones-style swinging bridge along the way. It’s a safe operation and the staff takes great care and pride in their safety record. We wouldn’t recommend them otherwise.

Posted by: marksimon | April 3, 2008

Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Races

The Four Seasons Maui team is getting ready for the biggest tournament of the year coming up in April. Last year, for the first time ever, the resort’s team won 12 out of 13 first place medals (male and female competition) — an almost impossible feat! The big problem now is living up to that legacy. Workouts are now four days a week and are pretty brutal.

I was on the team a few years ago (before I blew out a rib), and one of the workouts was memorable indeed. We started the practice with 300-yard sprints back and forth to “warm up.” Then we brought the canoes back into the beach and strapped car tires to the bow of the canoe and went right back in to resume sprints. The car tire added weight and a tremendous amount of resistance though, and we were absolutely trashed after the workout. A few weeks of that and we were pretty ripped and ready for competition.

When the canoe team is not competing, they run our complimentary outrigger canoe program for the guests (more information about fitness activities here). This program runs three times a day, five days a week and is a blast! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting out on the water and seeing turtles or whales. And when you are half a mile offshore and looking back at the sun rising over Haleakala, it is truly a sight to behold. It’s also very quiet, since no motorized craft
are allowed near Wailea beach. Quite a unique experience.

The nicest thing about outrigger canoeing is that it is how the ancient Hawaiians arrived here in the first place from Tahiti.

Posted by: marksimon | March 27, 2008

Paddleboarding off the Maui Coastline

The hotel’s dive shop, Maui Underwater Adventures, just purchased a bunch of new
paddleboards for guests enjoyment as part of our activities program.
Paddleboarding is the hottest sport in Hawaii now! Needless to say, the
activity is a hit with our guests, who are young, affluent and always
looking for new and interesting challenges. Paddleboarding sells out
nearly every day.

Paddleboarding at Four Seasons Maui

Paddleboarding is done on a longboard standing up while you paddle your way
around in search of a wave to ride back into shore.  It is a tremendous aerobic workout, and great for strengthening
all the core muscles. Laird Hamilton (a good friend of our resort)
catapulted the sport to its popularity right here in the islands. The
sport is relatively new, and as early as last year there were maybe a
handful of paddlers around the island. Today, I just walked outside of my
office and down to the pool to say hello to a guest and saw no fewer than five
paddleboarders giving it a shot!

Paddleboarding at Four Seasons Maui 2

Guests can rent the paddleboards from our dive shop, which is run by Maui
Underseas Adventures, and of course the boards come complete with personal
instructions on how to get started.

Posted by: marksimon | February 29, 2008

Great Maui Whale Festival, 2008

The official events of the 2008 Great Maui Whale Festival just wrapped up about a week ago, and it was a huge success. (Note that while the official events are over, great whale-watching continues through the spring and into May.)

On February 23rd, the Hawaii Reporter noted 1726 whale sightings in a three-hour period. According to the article, this crushes the previous record of 1265 sightings in 2006.

Here’s a great group of Flickr photos (all those tagged “maui” and “whale”) that show just a sampling of the stunning whale views.

From the Pacific Whale Foundation:

About 60% of the population of North Pacific humpback whales migrates to Hawaii each winter to mate and to give birth to calves conceived during last year’s breeding season. The first whales of the season generally appear during the autumn, with the greatest numbers in residence from December through early May. Maui County, comprised of the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, is known for the highest concentration of humpback whales in Hawaii.

Posted by: marksimon | February 28, 2008

Four Seasons Maui Profiled in Fortune

In addition to Four Seasons making Fortune‘s 2008 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For (more on this later), Jeffrey O’Brien wrote a terrific sidebar article called A Perfect Season that asks (and answers),

What makes the Four Seasons so special? Guests can check out anytime they like – but employees never want to leave.

It’s a great read and it really seems to “get” us, as illustrated in passages like this:

Every applicant, whether hoping to fold laundry or teach yoga, goes through at least four interviews, including one with the general manager. HR interviews a high percentage of applicants because it’s less concerned with experience (which you can see on a résumé) than with a positive, helpful outlook, which comes across only in person. “I can teach anyone to be a waiter,” says [founder Isadore] Sharp. “But you can’t change an ingrained poor attitude.”

In the effort to market to potential guests, it’s often easy to forget a second (but similarly important) marketing endeavor — to appeal to the type of potential employee that will both flourish in an environment like this and make it special for the guests as well.

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