Week in Review: Maui Fire Update, FAM Trip App Launches

The death toll as a result of Maui’s wildfires have reached 55, according to Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen. He added, while speaking on NBC’s “TODAY,” that the number is expected to rise. When asked about which parts of Lahaina were destroyed, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, he said, “all of it.”

Authorities have still not yet determined the cause of the wildfires, although the National Parks Service reports that nearly 85 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans (although not necessarily intentionally). Bissen said that on some parts of the island, gusts were up to 80 mph and sustained winds were between 45 and 65 mph, “so everything happened so quickly.”

There are mixed reports as to whether the island’s Civil Defense sirens were sounded to alert residents and visitors. That said, according to The Associated Press, Hawaii emergency management records show no indication the warnings sounded.

The Star Advertiser also notes that upwards of 3,000 homes on Maui will need to be rebuilt. Governor Josh Green said “it is going to take many years to rebuild Lahaina,” estimating the cost in the billions of dollars.

The wildfires are the state’s deadliest natural disaster since a 1960 tsunami killed 61 people.

Video by PressTV shows the devastation in Lahaina:

Allianz Partners USA estimates that it currently has 12,000 customers in Hawaii, with more than 3,000 scheduled to be currently visiting Maui. The company has begun to reach out to customers visiting Hawaii to offer help with any travel-related problems or assist in filing a claim.

For Allianz Travel Insurance customers currently traveling who need travel assistance, you can call 1-866-737-5828. Its travel assistance team can help find accommodations and alternative travel options, direct you to an appropriate medical facility and help arrange and manage emergency medical care.

For customers who have trips planned to Maui, many Allianz Travel Insurance plans allow our customers to cancel or interrupt their trip if their destination becomes uninhabitable, if their travel carrier can’t get them to their destination within 24 hours of their originally scheduled arrival due to a natural disaster and when government authorities order a mandatory evacuation due to a natural disaster at their destination that is in effect within 24 hours of their departure date. Trip cancellation coverage may provide a refund of pre-paid, non-refundable trip deposits. Claims can be filed online at www.allianztravelinsurance.com/file-a-claim or by using the free Allianz TravelSmart mobile app.

For residents impacted by the fires, U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box container usage. U-Box containers provide 257 cubic feet of storage and one-ton capacity. This space enables furniture, boxes and other belongings from up to one-and-a-half rooms, on average, to be shipped and stored safely inside each container.

U-Haul Company of Hawaii also donated a truck to the Maui Rescue Mission so they can pick up and deliver supplies to the affected areas.

Mainland United States

Motto by Hilton New York City Times Square
Motto by Hilton New York City Times Squar’s signature restaurant, The Alderman, will offer American food and craft cocktails. (Sarah Daneke/Motto by Hilton New York City Times Square)

A slew of hotels have opened up in major U.S. cities. Among them is the Motto by Hilton New York City Times Square. The 400-key tower is located on 48th Street in Manhattan’s Times Square neighborhood; rooms afford city views and come with flexible sleeping setups, built-in storage, conveniently located power outlets and more. The hotel also offers its signature sets of connecting rooms, providing guests the ability to book up to six adjoining rooms together.

In Colorado, The Art Hotel Denver, Curio Collection by Hilton has completed a $3 million property-wide refresh to its 165 guestrooms and suites, meeting and event spaces, 24-hour fitness center, private dining and public spaces. Guestrooms have new furniture, window drapery, bedding fabric and bathrooms; the hotel also now has a new queen bed category.

Hilton also this week opened The Bankers Alley Hotel Nashville, part of the company’s Tapestry Collection. Formerly the historic Gray & Dudley Building, the property was converted to a 124-key lifestyle hotel in 2017 and was recently reflagged by Hilton. The hotel in downtown Nashville’s art district offers an on-site art museum as well as 14 suites. Those on the eighth floor offer the best city views from a semi-private terrace.

United Kingdom and Ireland

Dornoch Station_Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts
Scotland's Dornoch Station will reopen this month following a renovation under the Marine & Lawn banner. (Dornoch Station)

CIE Tours has introduced the new "2024 Scottish Daytripper" itinerary available for departures starting March 2024. This tour provides travelers an opportunity to explore the landscapes of Scotland in a series of daytrips with the convenience of a single “home” hotel. Based in The Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel in the city’s West End area, the tour includes day trips to Stirling Castle, Isle of Arran, Edinburgh Castle, Loch Lomond and more.

If you’re traveling for golf, Dornoch Station in Dornoch, Scotland, is set to open on August 28 and Slieve Donard in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, is set to open on September 1. Both golf-centric properties are relaunching under the Marine & Lawn banner with refurbished guestrooms, F&B concepts and public spaces.

Dating to 1902, The Dornoch Hotel has been rebranded as Dornoch Station. The hotel sits on four acres within Dornoch, just a short walk from the first fairway of Royal Dornoch Golf Club. The property now offers 89 guestrooms and refreshed public spaces, besides a new putting green and fire pits for guests to enjoy.

Positioned adjacent to the Royal County Down Golf Club, the 180-key Slieve Donard is the first Marine & Lawn property in Northern Ireland. Built by the Belfast and County Down Railway in 1898, the hotel welcomes a new chapter with updated guestrooms, renovated meeting and event, and restaurant spaces.

Tip: If you’re traveling to Ireland, be sure to follow your ears and enjoy some traditional music. You can hear such music at cultural heritage centers and concert halls, but it sounds best in a pub. Live music is at least a weekly occurrence at most town pubs worth their salt. Trad music is especially popular in Dingle, Doolin, Galway and Dublin.

In Other News

FamGuru lets advisors record notes and photos, which can be shared with clients and colleagues. (FamGuru)

The International Galápagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) is calling upon the government of Ecuador to limit land-based tourism growth in the Galápagos and better regulate the rapidly growing sector of the islands’ tourism industry. The request comes on the heels of the recently released “2023 State of Conservation Report” by UNESCO, which raised concerns about unsustainable tourism growth in the islands.

The destination has had a cap on the number of visitors who arrive by cruise or other vessel (which has been in place since 1998) but no such limit exists for land-based tourism. The large growth in tourism to the island can strictly be attributed to the “huge increase” in the number of hotels and overnight rental options on the islands, according to IGTOA.

Along those lines, Global Rescue in its summer 2023 “Global Rescue Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey,” found that travelers are increasingly willing to explore new corners of the world. Prior to the pandemic, people were more content with traditional tourist attractions, but now, tourists have a growing enthusiasm for places beyond the traditional, even if they have a “Level 3 - Reconsider Travel” warning by the U.S. Department of State.

On the tech front, FamGuru is launching a new app designed to transform how travel professionals plan, organize and profit from their ‘familiarization trips’ (Fam trips). The brainchild of Carrie Wallace, owner of Cerulean World Travel (an affiliate of Andavo Travel, a Virtuoso member agency), the app—among its other features—allows advisors to document the trip with photos, key learnings and reviews. This creates a permanent archive to share with clients and colleagues.

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