Hilton Contributes Nearly $500,000 to Aid Maui Wildfire Relief Initiatives
The wildfires that tore through the island of Maui and the historic town of Lahaina, destroying more than 2,500 acres of land and claiming the lives of 115 residents – and counting – will go down in history as one of the worst national disasters in Hawaii’s history. In response to the devastation, Hilton has pledged substantial support to relief efforts, including a nearly $500,000 contribution, emergency housing and essential supplies for the affected community.
Hilton, which has a long-standing presence in Hawaii, recently gathered more than 9,000 of its sales and operational leaders in Las Vegas, where they collectively raised an additional $175,000 for Maui relief efforts, specifically benefiting the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund and Maui United Way. In total, Hilton, the Hilton Global Foundation and members of the wider Hilton community have committed $325,000 since early August.
Katherine Lugar, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Hilton, expressed the hotel company’s solidarity with Maui and the Hawaiian community and emphasized its commitment to supporting team members and recovery efforts.
“Lahaina is such a special community, and we are committed to supporting our team members and relief and recovery efforts in every way we can,” Lugar said. “It’s been incredibly inspiring to see our team members, hotel owners, community partners and guests come together to make an impact. We continue to send our thoughts to those in Maui.”
Relief Initiatives Across Hawaii
Hilton’s relief efforts extend beyond financial contributions, with Hilton-branded hotels across Hawaii organizing multiple events and fundraisers to provide assistance to their community.
- Grand Wailea Maui, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, partnered with World Central Kitchen to provide more than 600 daily meals to shelters across Maui; donated an emergency kitchen to West Maui, where many residents were left without power to cook their own meals or cell service to place online orders; provided accommodations to displaced team members, community members and relief workers; donated supplies and bedding across the island; and served as the lead sponsor for the Wiwoʻole Maui Benefit Concert on Aug. 19 that benefited the Maui Strong Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.
- Hilton’s largest property in Hawaii, Hilton Hawaiian Village, in Honolulu, donated nearly 100 cases of supplies, including linens, clothing, water and non-perishable food products in the days following the fire; provided residents discounted Kama‘āina rates; and hosted the Aloha for Maui Benefit Concert on Sept. 2, with all entry ticket sales going to the Maui Strong Fund.
- Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) Club Maui Bay Villas supported the Maui community through HGV contributions to Aloha United Way’s Maui Fire Relief Fund and the Maui Strong Fund. HGV also provided direct emergency resources to impacted team members and their families. The company donated housing assistance to first responders, team members and members of the community.
- Team members of Hilton Waikoloa Village, located on the Big Island, contributed donations to the Hilton Global Foundation and the Hawaii Community Foundation.
“From the moment we opened our first hotel in Hawaii, it quickly became a special and important part of the Hilton family,” said Danny Hughes, Hilton president, Americas. “The impact of the wildfires in Maui has been devastating, and it’s in moments like these that our hospitality is needed most.”
He continued, “Our team members in Hawaii have sprung into action to support the community by preparing meals, fundraising, and donating bedding, shelter and other basic needs. We look forward to continuing this work with local organizations in the days, weeks and months ahead so Maui can build back stronger than ever.”
Supporting Team Members
According to the Hilton officials, the hotel company places a high priority on the wellbeing and safety of its team members. In 2014, the company launched the Team Member Assistance Fund, designed to support team members in the aftermath of disasters and crisis incidents, which has been assisting Hilton team members who have been affected by the Maui wildfires.
Additionally, the Hilton Global Foundation and Hilton Supply Management have been collaborating with Clean the World to provide hygiene kits to Maui to team members and local residents in need.
How Meetings Groups Can Promote the Aloha Spirit
While it’s important for event groups to be sensitive to the grief and suffering of those in Lahaina and West Maui, where a full recovery is expected to take many years, Meet Hawai‘i is encouraging corporate groups to bring their events to parts of Maui that were unaffected by the wildfires, as tourism comprises 70% of the island’s economy.
According to John Reyes, senior vice president and chief MCI sales officer for Meet Hawai’i, while non-essential travel to West Maui, including Lahaina, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali and Kapalua, is strongly discouraged through Oct. 17, according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green’s sixth emergency proclamation, group business to all other parts of Maui, including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia and Hāna, and other Hawaiian Islands are welcomed.
“The Hawaiian Islands are open for business,” Reyes said. “Hotels in unaffected areas will continue to operate and welcome guests. To maintain vital business activity and keep residents employed, please maintain any business commitments in Maui/Hawaiʻi or even explore adding meetings or events in other islands, such as Kauaʻi, Oʻahu and the Island of Hawaiʻi.”
He continued, “Tourism is vital to Hawai‘i because it supports the local economy. To help speed the recovery, the Meet Hawai‘i team is committed to encouraging group travel and further establishing awareness that Hawai‘i is open and safe outside Lahaina. [However], we are urging meeting attendees throughout Hawai‘i to be especially mindful and respectful as our community endures this extremely difficult time.”
Maui is also launching a $2.6 million Maui Marketing Recovery Plan, recently authorized by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority’s Board of Directors. Set to run through the end of October, this advertising campaign aims to attract leisure travelers and event organizers to help rebuild travel demand from the continental U.S.
For more ways to help the Lahaina and West Maui recovery effort, go here.