No one disputes the bucolic beauty of Kaanapali and Wailea. Clearly, it is a visitor’s – and certainly a honeymooner’s - paradise, with deep green lush landscapes and crystal-clear blue ocean panoramas. For those who love watersports, hiking, horseback riding and golf, the possibilities allow for different daily adventures for days on end.
But for those with an active mind, if not an active lifestyle, Maui remains blissfully ideal, too.
If the road most traveled is the famed (and occasionally nausea –inducing) road to Hana, the road less traveled involves a surprising variety of unexpected opportunities.
Virgin America has added daily non-stop San Francisco to Maui (SFO to OGG) routes, making the mood-lit flight to island nirvana easier – and considerably more comfortable. The California-based airline (the only one) offers daily SFO to HNL (Honolulu) departures. Its SFO to OGG service departs at 7:55 a.m. on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, and 6:05 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The new Airbus 320 aircraft feature the efficiency making, fuel-saving “sharklet” wingtip devices.
In the Chef’s Kitchen
World-class restaurants and chefs make their home and demonstrate their culinary talents in these optimal areas of Maui. What could be more fun – and delicious – than making your own four-course lunch under the direction of an enthusiastic and encouraging chef?
Such a class can be had under the tutelage of Chef Ben Marquez, chef de cuisine of Ka’ana Kitchen at the Hyatt-owned, upscale Andaz Maui.
We enjoyed a memorable class featuring beautifully fresh Ahi Poke, Ka’ana Lau Lau, Shrimp Salad, Wagyu steak and Poi. “I love providing a different experience like no other hotel on Maui,” Marquez tells About.com.
Another highlight is being able to share “cooking techniques,” adding that participants “really enjoy the hands-on learning.” Chef Ben has all the charm worth of a Food Network host without any of the snark.
Monthly Classes in Ka’ana Kitchen
12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
$75 per person
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive
Wailea, Hawaii 96753
(808) 573 1234
Ice Cold Beer Makes You Want to Cheer
Sourcing as much local products as possible, the Maui Brewing Company wants to ensure freshness (even ketchup and mustard are made in-house) and eco-friendliness (the can is recyclable).
• The tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with special hours during the holiday season.
• Their Happy Hour, with a $1 off many craft beers on tap, is held from 3 to 6 p.m.
• On Wednesday, wear any MBC logo shirt or hat and get $4 house beers. There’s a daily food truck schedule, too.
• Brewery tours ($15 pp) are held at noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. and includes not only the tour, but tasting of four flagship beers, a token for a full-size house beverage and a souvenir glass.
Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
605 Lipoa Pkwy Kihei, HI 96753
Fresh from the Vineyard
Even if you’re not a tippler, a tour of MauiWine offers visitors much more than the expected wine tasting. MauiWine’s working ranch dates back to 1841, when King Kamehameha II originally leased it as a sugar mill. The location survived the plantation and ranch eras, and is now well vested (41 years) in the winemaking era.
Pineapple wine is synonymous with Hawa’ii, and a variety are made at MauiWine (which boats one of the first and most successful 100% Maui-made pineapple wines).
It’s no easy feat growing wine in Ulupalakua in upcountry Maui on the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala volcano, but in addition to the aforementioned pineapple wines, Ulupalakua Vineyards uses 16 acres to produce Syrah, Malbec, Grenache, Viognier, Chenin Blanc And Gewurtztraminer varietals.
Thirty-minute complimentary tours are given three times daily (10:30 a.m., 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.), starting in the History Room (once The King’s Cottage, built for King David Kalakaua).
In 2016, MauiWine opens a second tasting room in a recently renovated Old Jail.
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
14815 Piilani Highway, Kula, HI 96790
Ocean Organic: Artisan Vodka Made in Maui
Three generations of the Smith family have grown up in Maui and ten years ago, they were interested in developing an agricultural-based, non-perishable consumer product. The result: the highly successful Ocean Organic Vodka.
Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery Tour -- Sustainable farming practices are demonstrated and visitors will see abundant fields of sugar cane, green manufacturing processes in 6,000 sq. ft. solar-powered warehouse and bottling center. In fact, the facility uses solar panels to power 100% of the operations of the distillery and facility. The tour features a sampling, in a take-home souvenir Ocean Organic Vodka shot glass. You must be able to walk 650 yards. Tours are $10 per person, or $25 with lunch included. Open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm & Distillery Tour
4051 Omaopio Rd.
Kula, HI 96790
A Stay to Savor
Clearly, it’s not a vacation on the cheap (you’ll have to search budget destinations), but multi-starred resorts are continually upgrading in an effort to show their guests a very good time.
Recently renovated hotels worth a mention:
4100 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753
The beachfront Fairmont offers guests the Suite Life – all rooms are suites, and there are an additional villas (each with a small pool, barbeque, living room, kitchen and bedrooms.
One of the best-kept secrets at the Fairmont Kea Lani is the complimentary Hawaiian Canoe Experience, Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. (7 a.m. November through February). Guests learn the basics of paddling, the history of the canoe and its importance to Hawaiian Heritage, and examples of native chants when navigating the ocean. The six-person outrigger canoe holds four guests and two staff paddlers, who may be the cute and well-informed Wailana and Jacob. Paddlers have the option to grab a diving mask and snorkel and pop off into the ocean. Even if you opt to simply sit in the canoe, you can see clearly to the sea life at the bottom. On our venture during the month of December, sea turtles were plentiful and fearless, coming within a couple of feat from the outrigger.
Fair Deals from the Fairmont
Promotions and offers change seasonally. Here are some of the most popular throughout the year.
• Fairmont Savers – book early and save 20% on suite and villa visits
• Resort Rewards -- Credit offers of $50 to $200 daily
• Dual Island – Two Fairmont resorts, two island seventh night free deal
• F-Scape’s Wellness Experience: four nights, a personal coach, three daily, customized sessions (includes $100 credit), available through April 30, 2016
• AAA/CAA Member Specials
• Kea Lani Romance Package – an ideal honeymoon package with champagne upon arrival, buffet breakfast at Kea Lani and candlelit dinner for two at Koi, flower-petal turndown.
• Restore Your Mana – Designed to give participants a “renewed sense of kaulike (internal balance)” with “grounding fitness offerings” and “Lifestyle Cuisine Plus” to honor the nå akua (spirit), nå kanaka maoli (people) and ka ‘åina (land).
• Garden to Glass Cocktails – The Fairmont Kea Lani offers culinary garden and local flavors to cocktails, featuring “muddling calamansi, mint, basil, upcountry lavender, with names like “Noel’s Little Lemongrass Shack,” and “Home Grown.”
• Lobby lounge renovation – Luana relaunched in January 2016, with exclusive designs by Hawa’ii’s own Sig Zane.
2365 Ka'anapali Parkway, Maui, HI 96761 United States
Phone: 808.667.2525 Central Reservations: 866.716.811
From a sunrise champagne breakfast to a heavenly view sunset dinner, the food at the West Maui is as far away from the kind of forced or coerced places to eat as you can get.
The Westin Maui
The Heavenly Spa
Caters to those looking for spa luxury, with 16 treatment rooms (including two couples’ massage suites), separate men’s and women’s changing/locker rooms with sauna, steam room and whirlpools, as well as an ocean view relaxation lounge. There’s also a full-service salon. For a real vacation treat, there’s also an outdoor massage cabana. They offer a bevy of different types of massages, including sports, deep tissue, pregnancy, Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi, a “Heavenly,” as well as a Pohaku hot-stone massage.
Colonnade Cafe – 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Enjoy a latte, smoothie, fruits, freshly-baked pastries and sandwiches
Wailele Polynesian Luau
Aloha Pavilion – 5:00 p.m.
Polynesian and fire knife dance performances, a Hawaiian Buffet and tropical beverages. For reservations, call 808.661.2992.
Relish Oceanside Restaurant
6 Kai Ala Drive, Maui, HI 96761 United States
Phone: 808.667.3200 Central Reservations: 866.837.4271
You cannot fully embrace the cultural luxury of Hawaii without experiencing Maui-centric body treatments, and the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas’ Spa Helani offers an almost embarrassing amount of pampering inThe Ho’omana Ritual. It's available during the holidays.
A “Ho‘omana Ritual At-Home” Package ($100), includes the Pele Fire-Energizing Oil, Pele Mask, a recording of the Hawaiian blessing and standard shipping. To purchase, (808)-662-2644.
Spa Helani offers other signature treatments, such as the Polynesian Ritual,year-round.
Inspired by age-old traditions, the Polynesian Ritual transports you to the sacred islands of Polynesia. The journey begins with a coconut shell, white sand, sea salt and Tahitian vanilla scrub from Taha‘a. Continue to Bora Bora, for a slow and relaxing massage, accompanied by sand pouches, that relax the muscles deep down. The final stop is Raiatea with the application of a sacred golden Monoi oil.
Pu’uhonua Cultural Center and Talk Story -- The resort Director of Culture, Makalapua Kanuha assisted in the plan and design of the Pu‘uhonua Cultural Center. The center provides a sense of place for guests wishing to embrace and learn more of the Hawaiian culture and programs. Maka hosts hour-long talk-story sessions (guests are encouraged to participate) at the cultural center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, and the ancient healing of Pu’u Keka’a are offered at this boutique spa. You’ll find seven treatment rooms for massages, body treatments, facials, skin enhancements, manicures and pedicures. The Spa at Black Rock does not have traditional spa facilities, such as steam rooms, etc.Reservations and Information: (808) 667-9577
At each hotel, expect additional daily resort fees, as well as overnight parking rates.