People like to give me a hard time for my work travel; usually, it’s a fully packed shoot that literally has you on your feet from 3am to 7pm, raking sand on the beach or moving hundreds of chairs, waiting for sun to hit just the right position, lugging equipment around, and politely asking people to “move aside” or “sign this talent release.” It’s a lot of, “You are my HERO!” and “Oh my gosh, this is the best news I’ve heard all day; thank you SO MUCH for everything; seriously, you are a savior.”
As the account person, I’m ultimately responsible for making sure the shoot is a success from a logistics standpoint, no matter how many challenges we run into, and ensuring as few people as possible are pissed off in the process.
The other reason for my business trips center around strategy meetings and client presentations, which means we’re periodically at exotic locations, but spend maybe an hour or so on an actual beach – the view is typically the inside of a conference room.
Don’t get me wrong for a second: I am supremely fortunate to travel to exotic locales like Aruba and Hawaii; even Florida and New York, and the accommodations (as you might suspect) are second-to-none. I eat resort food and experience resort amenities, and am treated well by clients. Travel is one of my favorite things to do, but it does get old defending to people that it’s hard freaking work traveling for business, especially shoots: I’m not going on vacation. I’ve never had a business trip that didn’t really feel like work.
With that said, my trip to Hawaii last week was one of my best work travel experiences ever. The shoot was one of the most insanely packed that I’ve ever been on, and required a lot of organization. At times, it felt like a complete comedy of errors, like the entire island of Maui was against us filming. But at the same time, I hit every single breathtaking tourist activity available in a span of 3 days, had some awesome beers at a local brewery with my kickass client, and had a couple days to just chill and do whatever. That, I can’t defend, but I can be grateful for. Life is good.
Here’s the run-down:
- Day 1 – arrive at 8pm after traveling 18 hours
- Day 1, 9pm – dead asleep. Dead. Asleep.
- Day 2, 7am – unsure, how I slept this long, I wander out for my first “day off.” I came in early to take advantage of the fun at the resort, so I hung out and watched the sun rise over the infinity pool, and investigated surfing lessons (which you’ve already seen blogged about).
- Day 2, 10am – 2 hours of surfing fun, followed by a 3.5-mile walk back to the resort (in which I inexplicably decided to also buy and lug a bottle of wine back with me).
- Day 2, 2pm – enjoyed a Mai Tai and lunch at the resort, looking out at the whales while I sat by the pool (I know, I hate me, too).
- Day 2, 5pm – check out the happy hour at Migrant, the restaurant at the resort with fun Asian-inspired noodle bowls and half-priced drinks. Score!
- Day 2, 8pm – excitedly greet my gentlemen coworkers who were arriving for the shoot, discuss work for the following day (a scout day).
- Day 3, 8am – awake to meet Dave and John, our creative folks, and discover the day was quite literally a wash. Rain everywhere. We scout as best we can and then accept some level of defeat and head to the pool bar for lunch and the Superbowl (which was at 1:30 Hawaii time!).
- Day 3, 1:45pm – I embarrass myself on multiple occasions by asking horrendously infantile questions about the nature of football. I profess that I am rooting for the Seahawks because when push comes to shove, I imagine a real flock of Seahawks being able to take down a Patriot. I leave to go do some work in my room.
- Day 3, 4pm – we meet up with Jenn, a local yoga instructor who hosts classes on property. She instantly strips to her bra and says, “Oops, this is how I roll here, sorry.” No apologies necessary. We shoot her in some beautiful poses at sunset.
This is also Dave’s first opportunity to break out Beaker, our latest drone, on this trip. Between this and the hot, shirtless yoga girl, he is no doubt in nerd heaven.
- Dave 3, 7pm – we grab a few drinks and some food at Mala, the resort’s other restaurant, and book it to bed. We’ve got an early morning.
- Day 4, 6am – we’ve booked what’s sure to be a blast of a cruise: breakfast, lunch, open bar, snorkeling, whale watching, and turtle sightings. We’ll knock out 3 shots before noon, and have some fun in the process. But wait! The stars haven’t aligned in our favor: half an hour before we depart, I get a call that the charter has been cancelled due to a mechanical issue on the boat. Quickly, I scramble to re-book us on another whale charter that’s less inclusive but promises we’ll be able to film the whales with our drone. We’re set for the 8am charter.
- Day 4, 8am – we board the boat and are instantly told we can’t use the drone after all. Boo, hiss. We capture what we can, but I have to say – that experience is completely unforgettable.
- Day 4, 10am – no taxis around, so I request an Uber. After waiting 10 minutes, I call the driver and his wife answers the phone. He’s at home and forgot his Uber app was running. Welcome to our first of many experiences of “island culture.” We would be his inaugural Uber trip. Massimo, the driver, runs to his car and gets us so we could attempt some snorkeling shots. While we wait, we buy snorkeling equipment but neglect to get shoes. We also text our yoga girl Jenn to ask where we should go to snorkel – Oluwalu. Done.
- Day 4, 10:30am – I pump up the team with some insane Phil Collins jams while we ride in Massimo’s truck to Oluwalu Beach. We arrive and Massimo offers to pick us up in 2 hours – he has no cell phone. We proceed to try some drone footage (too windy) and hunt for fish in the wavy waters (too wavy). John and I borrow water shoes from an older couple, who tell us we were nuts not to have them. We leave with essentially nothing, totally disappointed. The weather is not on our side so far. Fortunately, Massimo had inexplicably been waiting for us in the parking lot the whole time. The first sign that the tides are turning!
- Day 4, 1pm – we eat at the pool bar and I get a text that our model for the spa shot, scheduled for 2pm with the spa staff, has fallen through. She would have been our “naked back” getting massaged. I began to pump myself up for the idea that this back model could end up being me, despite my being somewhat chunky, extremely pale, and possessing a back tattoo. Yes, this could go poorly.
- Day 4, 2pm – A model comes through! A lovely sales girl stepped up to the plate and makes a beautiful model. Meanwhile, we send John by himself to GoPro some snorkeling near property, completely unconfident he’ll get anything. By a miracle… he does. Several turtles. Two shots knocked out at once. We were cooking with gas.
- Day 4, sunset – we head to the Luau at night and immediately grabb a few Mai Tais and settle in. The Luau is spectacular: a guy cracking coconuts, Hawaiian bowling, a wood carver, Hawaiian dancing and singing – the whole gamut. There is a pig roast and buffet; everything you’d imagine. We get great footage… and got lei’d in the process!
- Day 4, 10pm – Rich, our media guy, arrives and brings a van with him. No more relying on infrequent Uber rides for us!
- Day 4, 11pm – I secure a bike rental for our trek the next day to Haleakala volcano.
- Day 5, 3:30am – Dave, John, and I meet in the lobby and begin our 2 hour trek to the summit of Haleakala Volcano – an inactive volcano 10k feet in the air, with breathtaking views above the clouds. Dave and I are gripping our seats because John, ever the creative guy, is busy admiring the views while he is driving. The trip’s mantra becomes, “Eyes on the road!” But we did get there in one piece.
- Day 5, 6am – I have never been colder in my entire life. 95 MPH winds whip us around at the top of the summit, and we skiddadle up a rickety flight of stairs to enter an unheated room to watch the sunrise. I rudely request that people move aside so we can wedge a camera at the best angle, and fortunately, they oblige. What proceeded was some of the most incredible beauty I’ve ever witnessed in person: it’s exactly how you would expect heaven to look. Here are a few shots from the car, just after the sun rose and appeared to set the clouds slowly on fire.
We get biking footage on the way down, which includes the guys wearing protective skirt-blankets around them and me angrily riding back and forth down the mountain. Could be better, but could be worse. At least we’re in paradise.
- Day 5, midday – we head to Paia, a cute little town near the North Shore, and have brunch. We’re all super hungry and Dave orders the largest pancake I’ve ever seen – easily taking over his entire plate.
- Day 5, afternoon – we drive on to Ho’Okipa Beach to try and catch some surfing action. There are some great surfers we caught on film, and I busy myself doing the challenging and tragic work of talking to some of the best-looking men I’ve ever seen IRL about whether they’d be open to strapping a GoPro to their boards. Most of them were willing but exiting the water on their way to work – I guess that’s what I get for approaching them at the outdoor shower. Que sera, though – I mean, could be worse.
- Day 5, afternoon – we pick up Rich somewhere along the beach and all head to a random opening on the side of the road that leads to an unmarked bamboo forest. The journey begins easily enough, but seems like it may be a little dangerous. When Jenn the yoga teacher arrives to take us further in, we all become a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.
- “This is the easiest way, just take off your shoes,” she encourages, barefoot; her 100-pound frame carrying a 40-pound backpack. She then leads us through some of the roughest rocky area, sometimes waist-deep in water, to a waterfall.
- “This isn’t a great waterfall,” she says. “There are 5 more up ahead. Let’s just scale this.”
- She points to a slippery, rocky edifice about 13 feet high, with a knotted, aging rope leaning against it. I look at the rope, then at Dave’s camera. Dave’s camera, then back to the rope. This seems ill-advised.
- Day 5, late afternoon – we film Jenn on the paddleboard doing yoga at the original waterfall, while watching the beautiful water. The surroundings are exquisite – like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Truly breathtaking.
Despite the danger, Dave leaves his camera back at the car and we end up scaling the crazy-ass rock wall anyway – we’re all curious about what’s up ahead. Turns out to be a beautiful additional waterfall with a large open water area, perfect for swimming. I’d share a pic here but my phone unfortunately died somewhere along the way.
- Day 5, evening – we head back to the resort and catch some dinner off-property at a nearby bar. The conversation devolves into its usual vitriol that you’d expect amongst 3 guys and, well, me.
- Day 6, morning – Dave catches a few more drone shots with Beaker, and as he and John depart for the airport, Rich and I give our client presentation and take our client out to lunch at a brewery (client’s recommendation). Can’t tell you how much I like this guy already.
- Day 6, late afternoon – the day is ours to enjoy. So naturally, we drink. I mean, we’re agency people… not sure what you expected, here. We shut the bar down at 10pm (crazy party animals) and head to bed preparing for an open day of fun the following day!
- Day 7, 8am – Rich wants to work. Lame. We work for a while and then I decide to go to the pool as we edge toward noon. The last few days have been packed and I’m done; fully roasted.
- Day 7, afternoon – lunch at the pool bar and then body surfing and a snorkeling attempt at the nearby beach. We ignored this sign and took our chances.
- Day 7, later afternoon – we check out and go back to Haleakala, since Rich hasn’t seen it and we have a million hours to kill before we hit our flight back at 11:30pm. It ends up being kind of a bust because the weather has beat us there: no view at the top, but some nice views on the way down.
- The ride is beautiful, but no amount of car games can entertain us long enough not to get bored after 12 hours together. Sorry, Rich, you can only rely on my sparkling wit and unmatchable charm for so long. In the meantime, we buy souvenirs, eat dinner (AWESOME fresh fish), and drink at the airport (because why not?).
- Day 7, 12:40am – we finally board our first flight back. We both wish we could stay longer but are also missing home. And, if we can get through the rest of this trip without punching someone (or each other) in the face, it will be a win. I love that guy but zero sleep always equals angry Alexis, which means an easy jump to straight violence.
And here ends the fascinating recap of my Hawaii trip – one of the best biz trips I’ve had. Most of them aren’t quite this action-packed, and although it was exhausting, it was soooo worth it. Until next time, Hawaii… aloha, and mahalo!