Voluntourism is a portmanteau that is heard more often these days at local resorts across the world. The main premise is straightforward: volunteer while playing tourist. Leading a beach clean-up with Canadian visitors Jaret and Kirra Lockhart, Zane Kekoa Schweitzer considers it a moral imperative to keep our beaches and oceans clean.
“I want to create what I call a ‘blue mindshift,’” says the 24-year-old professional waterman, who led the inaugural novice enthusiast activity as the first featured Westin Maui Waterman initiative. “Instead of going green, think ‘deep-blue life.’ It’s more than just about a beach cleanup, it’s a paradigm shift. It’s being conscientious about the choices you make and taking responsibility for those choices—good or bad.”
The Westin volunteer program allows resort guests to give back to the local community by participating in thoughtfully designed ocean adventures with paddle boarders, boat captains, canoe racers and others who want to share their respect for the water and passion for the environment. These watermen and women will also educate visitors about the national marine sanctuary fronting Kā’anapali Beach and the importance of “malama 'aina” (“protecting the land”).
“Surrounded by water and in the incredible setting of the largest area of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, we are most excited to share this new endeavor,” says Thomas Foti, Westin Maui Resort & Spa general manager. “We are delighted to provide a unique, meaningful and mindful travel experience that we hope stays with guests when they return home and continues the malama aina spirit that is so important in Hawai'i.”
The Westin Maui Waterman program will be introduced in three levels: novice enthusiast, advanced adventure and personal perfection. Guests can participate in the monthly novice enthusiast activity that includes a beach cleanup and conversation, beginning on the ocean lawn of the resort the first Friday of the month at 8 a.m. For those keen to continue their journey to the advanced adventure level of the program, the resort has partnered with the on-site Ka‘anapali Surf Club to present a new standup paddleboard course just more than a mile from North Ka’anapali Beach that lands guests at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa’s beachfront.
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is also developing a variety of partnerships to expand the experience for guests. “Through partnerships with like-minded organizations, such as West Maui Ridge2Reef Initiative and Coral Reef Alliance,” Foti says, “we believe that we will make an impactful difference in preserving the Hawaiian culture and our environment by working closely together and enriching the community we live in.”
Also with a similar goal of keeping our ocean thriving and healthy, Trilogy has led the visitor industry in protecting Maui’s reefs. In 2010, this snorkel- and whale-watching company joined the Surfrider Foundation and began its highly successful Blue ‘Aina campaign. This monthly sail takes concerned locals and like-minded visitors on one of its state-of-the-art catamarans to a reef where the object is to find and remove debris.
“We’re finding less and less trash, which is the consistent trend,” says Magen Schifiliti, Trilogy’s conservation and education director, as she instructs snorkelers on the precise signal to use when trash is spotted. (Just waving could mean they are in trouble). “We consider these outings as a ‘floating workshop and community service.’ We conduct water quality testing right on board and collect data so participants can see that their efforts make a difference. It’s not just a feel-good outing. Our guests [and crew] really are making a difference to the health of our reefs.”
At the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Fred Findlen encourages hotel guests to get involved with the Susan G. Komen Hawai’i. For the past four years, water enthusiasts—of all skill levels—have participated in a non-competitive event, which will be held on Oct. 13 as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“The annual Maui Paddle for a Cure is very special to us,” says Findlen, general manager at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. “With the support of the community and our guests, it has raised more than $115,000 for Susan G. Komen Hawai’i to date. This year, we aim to encourage more people than ever before to join us in the fight against breast cancer with the addition of Cabanas for a Cure to our other fundraising efforts.”
Presented in partnership with The Butterfly Effect and Maui Jim, Paddle for a Cure will take place in front of Hyatt Regency Maui at Ka‘anapali Beach. Resort guests and members of the Maui community 18 years and older are invited to an open paddle by stand up paddleboard, kayak or canoe, all to benefit this important cause. Anuhea Jenkins will return to headline the Maui Paddle for a Cure after party at Sunset Terrace at Hyatt Regency Maui
New this year, the “Cabanas for a Cure” program will run through Oct. 31. It will feature a Pink Ocean Hale (Hawaiian for House) package, complete with an oceanfront cabana and tropical cocktails, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Susan G. Komen Hawaii. Additional promotions, including pink merchandise, food and beverage and spa treatments, will also return on National Pink Day.