Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Hotel’s head man lets hair go down for charity

By Erika Engle


Grand Wailea Managing Director Matt Bailey is sporting a new hairstyle, or lack thereof, more accurately.

His hair was shaved off in the hotel lobby, before gathered employees and guests Monday morning — because he pledged to do so if employees exceeded the fundraising goal for the recent Visitor Industry Charity Walk. The hotel set a goal of $32,000, and employees topped it by $18,000, raising $50,000.

“My word is my word, but I never in my wildest dreams thought we would hit our goal,” he laughed.

Jeanene Sebstad, a senior hairstylist at Spa Grande, did the honors — first with a buzz-cutter, then with a straight razor. At one point she carved a “G” for Grand Wailea into his hair.

“Before they even took the draping off me, my wife came over and rubbed my head and kissed the top of it — I guess she likes it,” he chuckled.

The previous record had been $21,000 or $22,000 or so; it had been Maui’s biggest charity walk fundraiser until the Royal Lahaina Resort beat it by about $1,000, Bailey said. “Then last year we lost to the Hyatt (Regency Maui) by $1,200 … so we were absolutely committed that we were not going to let that happen again.”

Bailey estimates that the Grand Wailea, Maui’s largest private employer, employs about 3 percent of the work force on the island. “That makes us a very visible part of the community, and it’s really important that we perform well, that we set a good example and live up to our compartment in the community.” All dollars raised on each island stay on that island for local charities.

The goal was prorated among departments, and each got creative, said Christina Yumul, hotel spokeswoman. The security team did a dunking booth, selling chances for $5 a ball; human resources auctioned parking stalls; and the reservations team brought in a cash-for-gold dealer and put proceeds toward the goal. Leading up to the walk, Yumul said “you can’t go to the cafeteria without someone selling” food items including shave ice, fried rice or baked goods.

Bailey said he’s already looking forward to next year.

“I love the people I work with, and we’ve got a really good relationship and we all had fun with this, including me,” he said. “I’m so proud of them. I believe we set an all-time record as a hotel raising money for the charity walk. Now I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to shave next year.”


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by email at

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