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Alan Fuerstman's Splendid Maui

Ask Alan Fuerstman to tell you his favorite thing about Maui and he doesn’t ponder the question very long: It’s the aloha spirit. As founder and CEO of Montage Hotels & Resorts, Fuerstman encounters that laid-back philosophy of harmony and acceptance on a regular basis at Montage Kapalua Bay, one of the luxury hotels in the company’s portfolio. Among the others, of course, are Montage Laguna Beach and Montage Beverly Hills. Fuerstman, an Orange County resident, counts Maui among his favorite places in the world. - As told to Rosemary McClure

Time is right
June is a great time to visit because of the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival (this year June 9-12). The event, one of the longest-running food and wine celebrations in the United States, draws incredible chefs and brings a great amount of energy to all the events at the resorts. Another favorite time to visit is from January to April, when whale watching off the coast of Maui is spectacular. You can see whales breach from the shore in front of Montage Kapalua Bay.

Why Maui?
Maui is a wonderful place that has been voted the best island in the world for more than a dozen years by Condé-Nast Traveler readers. It has diverse topography and something fun for everyone, including hiking, biking, windsurfing and snorkeling. It also has sprawling Haleakala National Park and the winding Hana Highway. The weather is incredible and the picturesque sunsets are second to none. Add to that the availability of year-round golf, and the warm and welcoming Hawaiian culture, and you have a winner.

Buy in
The historic whaling town of Lahaina is a fun place to shop. At one time, this rustic-looking town was Hawaii’s busiest port. Now the bustling galleries and shops that line Front Street offer visitors a place to stroll and linger. Hawaiian art is a great memento to take home. A few minutes’ drive down the road on the main West Maui highway will take you to Kaanapali resort, with more shops to visit.

Secret tip
For a casual breakfast, try The Gazebo at Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger. It’s small and hidden, but Maui residents love it. You might have to wait in line, but the view and food are worth the wait.

After dark
The rooftop at Fleetwood’s in Lahaina is a favorite, with excellent food and music. It’s owned by drummer Mick Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac) and has two floors of live entertainment, including the only rooftop bar in Lahaina.

Must do
At the top of my list is golf, which is spectacular on the island. I also enjoy hiking and exploring, as well as stand-up paddling, snorkeling and cliff jumping. Immersing myself in a great book while relaxing on the beach is another favorite activity and offers a tremendous break from everyday life. Nothing beats the stunning ocean views to really give you a true sense of place. The sunny northwest coast of Maui was once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty; today it’s a wonderful place to explore, with resorts, shopping and restaurants.

Best bite
Merriman’s Kapalua is a great spot and within walking distance of Kapalua Bay. This classic occupies the point between Napili and Kapalua bays, and its outdoor perch on the end of the point offers a panoramic ocean view. Order a bottle of wine and time it to arrive at sunset; Merriman’s probably has the best sunset view in all of Hawaii.

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