Historic Front Street in Lahaina on Maui has been all but destroyed by fire Hoteliers tested as wildfires rage on MauiBy Jeffrey Weinstein | August 10, 2023Share Two Lahaina hotels destroyed as of Friday morning; communication is intermittent as operators focus on the safety of guests and teams. Editor's note: Updated August 11 at 12p ct.The mettle of hotel owners and operators on the Hawaiian island of Maui is being put to an extreme test as tragic wildfires have reportedly killed at least 56 people, destroyed most of the island's historic tourist mecca of Lahaina and some 1,700 structures. With limited communication operators were struggling to ensure the comfort and safety of their guests and teams.As of Friday, 7 a.m. central time, the wildfire that engulfed Lahaina was 80% contained, authorities said, while firefighters were also making progress against two other major fires on the island. In total, six fires were still burning in Maui and the Big Island.The historic 34-room Best Western Pioneer Inn and the Plantation Inn in Lahaina were reportedly destroyed but there are no other reports of significant damage to major hotels there. The Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island reportedly faced a threat from the fire but it was kept away and the resort remained open.Marriott International provided Hotel Investment Today with a statement Friday afternoon about the status of its hotels on the island: "Three of our hotels in West Maui’s impacted area are closing temporarily due to extended power outages. Guests at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka'anapali, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua have departed the hotels, as requested by Maui County officials. Our teams have focused on facilitating this evacuation, communicating with guests, and supporting our associates during this difficult time. We are grateful to local emergency responders, as well as government and industry partners, and we are mobilizing to support relief efforts... Cancellation fees at these three hotels are waived through August 31."Lahaina was evacuated along with several others cities on both Maui and the Big Island. All but non-essential travelers have been asked to leave the island.Airlines have added flights to get travelers off of Maui with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported adding flights to help people leave. More than 25,000 people have been flown off the island since the fires began, according to local officials.“It was a hard day,” said Monica Salter, Honolulu-based Outrigger Hospitality Group’s vice president of global communications and social responsibility. She told Hotel Investment Today on Thursday morning, “Outrigger’s top priority at this time is ensuring the safety and well-being of both our guests and employees; our thoughts are with those affected by the fires in Maui and Hawai‘i Island. As the situation is still unfolding, we are working to relocate guests as needed within Outrigger’s portfolio of properties across the Hawaiian Islands. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the first responders for their efforts and thank our guests for their patience and understanding during this time. The Kā‘anapali area, including the Outrigger Kā‘anapali Beach Resort, did not sustain any damage by the fire.”Hotel Investment Today sister publication Travel Weekly reported Thursday morning that the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas had posted to its website that it and much of the surrounding Maui coast was without power. The resort was under a shelter-in-place order, with management preparing for a potential mandatory evacuation. The property confirmed that active evacuations have already been ordered in the North and South Kohala, Kula and Lahaina areas.An emergency assistance center has been established by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, in partnership with the American Red Cross, to support visitors and residents being evacuated from Maui to Oʻahu due to the wildfires.President Joe Biden today signed a Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaiʻi, resulting in the approval to dedicate significantly more federal resources to help with recovery efforts underway for Maui and Hawaiʻi Island.The American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Hawai‘i Hotel Alliance have joined forces with the State of Hawai‘i to assist with disaster relief in West Maui.