Meet the Crew! McAuley Duda
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Meet McAuley! McAuley works for Vida Mia virtually from Park City, UT. McAuley has over 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry and handles all of our wedding planning and private charter bookings. There are many ways to see Hawaii. If chartering an antique yacht piques your interest, McAuley is here to help you narrow down details and create an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.
She also happens to be the little sister of Brynn, the owner of Vida Mia. The sisters hail from Springfield, MA where they both attended Cathedral High School. "We've both been in the service industry since we were 14." The girls spent summers working for a small family farm called Forbes Garden Mart in East Longmeadow, MA. "We got bundled up in the dead of winter to transplant seedlings in the greenhouses. It was so cool to watch them grow into fruiting plants and then sell them to customers in the spring, then harvest the fruit ourselves to sell in the farmers market by the summer." The owner, Nina, taught them how to do inventory and how to use the cash register. “It was such a cool job to have at that age - I loved meeting all the members of our community that shopped there." That's where the girls developed the passion for running a small business. After a year, the owners trusted them to basically run the place when they needed time off." They come from a long line of small business owners, their Grandpa owned a small pizza shop on the south side of Chicago in the early 50’s and their mom, Lori, ran a nutritional company out of their home while McAuley was in grammar school.
The sisters then ventured into waitressing. Brynn started at a small Italian Restaurant called Villa Napoletana in Springfield, MA. McAuley went on to manage a popular pizza restaurant on Newbury Street in Boston, MA and then became a server at the prestigious Stein Erickson Lodge Deer Valley.
"Working in a busy restaurant helped me understand how much our customers valued the short time they had to enjoy a good meal with their family. Sometimes it's a young, tired couples' only time to get away from the kids. Oftentimes families live in different states and they only have a few nights that they can all be together. I always wanted to make sure they got the most out of their time together. So I put my effort into making sure they really enjoyed themselves. I didn't just serve them food, I tried to connect with them and joke around, whatever I could do to make sure they had a memorable evening. It also helped me make better tips."
The two sisters started their own vacation rental company 6 years ago and they have worked side by virtual side every day since. McAuley suffered a terrible ski injury in 2018 and was immobile for months. She had to quit her waitressing job and she was devastated. “I had to quit the restaurant and that's when luckily, my sister needed help answering the slew of incoming emails coming in on her business, so it worked out for both of us!” She was working long hours and could barely manage all of the inquiries from Airbnb and VRBO. The skills I learned in the restaurants easily translated to booking guests online. We are always involved in people's special occasions or holidays, and we know how important this time is with family.
Here Comes the Bride...
When our guests book the Vida Mia for a private charter, we only have one night to really impress them. The stakes are even higher since people are often traveling a long time to get here, or they have never been to Hawaii before. So it's even more important to stay on top of all the details. We want to give them a seamless experience and also take the stress off so they can relax and enjoy their time with their friends and family. We want every charter to be amazing. We definitely go the extra mile to make that happen...from recommending florists, musicians, officiants, even places to stay and things to do in Waikiki or other places around the island. We have a great network here. Our crew is great, some of them even offer to take them on hikes and they always have great recommendations. We want our private charter guests to feel like they have a friend here on the island before they even arrive.
And who better to help plan weddings than the bride-to-be herself? Last time McAuley was in Hawaii on the Vida Mia, John popped the question.
John and McAuley have been engaged for about a year now. The two plan on getting married in Mexico next October. Congratulations! We love you guys :)