An October 2003 trip
to Maui by jenandfrank
Quote: Maui is beautiful, relaxing, romantic, with lots to do, and with family-oriented options.
Attraction | "Bike Tour down the Haleakala Volcano"
We booked our tour in advance through Maui Mountain Riders (you receive a 15% discount if you book online). The cost is $98 to $115 per person, depending on where/how you book. TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY. This was done on the recommendation of the Four Seasons concierge, and it was a great idea. At first I was nervous - very nervous - but my husband wanted to go, so I went and bit my tongue.
What an incredible morning. You are picked up at your hotel around 1:30 or 2am. You are then taken to a building where they fit you for bikes and show you a safety video. After that, you are driven by van to the top of the Haleakala Volcano and served a continental breakfast while you wait for the sun to rise. You are able to get out and walk around, use the bathroom, etc. You get to watch the sun rise while standing on the outskirts of the crater. Insane . . . totally insane - the most incredible views, pictures, and experience.
Once its daylight, you form a single-file line on the bikes (based on height) and ride down, periodically stopping along the way to take breaks, pictures, etc. You are literally riding through clouds (and getting wet). You bike down approximately 38 miles (coasting most of the way) while experiencing several different climates, vegetation, etc. At the bottom of the volcano you are taken to this little Mexican place for breakfast (included in the price). After this short break, the pedaling part of the trip begins and you bike to a beach for some pictures and to take it all in. This was by far the best thing I did while on Maui. Note - It is FREEEEEZING at the top of that volcano. Dress in layers (you will have the opportunity to shed them as you stop along the way). I have had friends who did not listen to this advice and said that their entire experience was ruined because they were so cold. There is a van that follows behind the bikers (for safety), and you are allowed to keep your belongings in there. Think thermals.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 8, 2004
Haleakala Mountain-Biking Downhill
Haleakala National Park
You are free to walk around and patronize a few of the vendors they have on the grounds. The grounds are kept immaculate. The vendors usually sell local trinkets and carvings, and you have about 1 hour before the show starts to walk around the beautiful grounds, take pictures, and drink cocktails while the sun sets.
They have an extensive buffet, and by the way, the bar never closes. When we were there, the menu included roasted pork (made in the ground), poi (green-tinted gooey gravy), ahi poke, sweet potato, pulehu steak, chicken long rice, island-style chicken, mahimahi, stir-fry veggies, local-style rice, crab salad, taro salad (coconut and spinach), salmon, and plenty of desserts and fresh fruit. They have traditional seating on the floor and regular seating at a picnic-style tables (the floor seating is obviously closer to the stage).
The show begins before 5pm, but that includes watching them dig up your food and talk about tradition, how the hot rocks and palm/banana leaves work in the cooking process, etc. You eat around 6-ish and then the real show begins around 7-ish. I am giving these times in an "ish" form because people in Hawaii are not in a rush and don’t keep to a tight schedule. The show is very well done and includes four performances (Ote'a, Kahiko, Missionaries & The Merry Monarch, and Auana) and a finale. There is hula dancing, fire shows, and more throughout. The performers take the show very seriously, and they are energetic and all about the performance throughout. It is great for kids, families, groups of people, or just you and your favorite person.
http://www.oldlahainaluau.com or 800/248-5825.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 8, 2004
Old Lahaina Luau
1251 Front St.
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Pacific'O, 505 Front St., Lahaina Located right in Lahaina, this restaurant didn’t disappoint. The menu does primarily consist of seafood. However, there are still ample non-fish entrées. I had the coconut-and macadamia-nut-crusted catch of the day, and Frank had the sesame-crusted lamb. We were both very happy with our choices (and we got a free viewing of the luau next door). There is seating inside and outside along the beach. It’s very beautiful, and the outside is lined with tiki torches and beautiful plants and flowers. (It also doesn't hurt that you have the ocean in the background). The staff was friendly and quick, which was surprising since the restaurant is quite large. Attire should be dressy-casual and reservations are required. It is highly recommended.For information, go to Pacific’O
Alii Nui Sunset Cruise, Ma'alaea Harbor, Slip 56. (808) 875-9259Although not actual dining, this was more of a cocktail and hors d'ouvres trip. We booked this through our concierge. It cost us about $100 for the two of us and included a 2-hour ride, unlimited cocktails, and a small appetizer buffet. Our boat was huge (60 feet); brand-new, and kept extremely clean. The staff was young, energetic, and very friendly. We had a smooth sail on the South Pacific, with incredible views of the land and sunset. Due to the romantic nature of the trip, there were no children. (I wouldn't recommend taking a child either.) This catamaran also offers day trips (snorkeling, scuba, etc.).For more detail, check out Alii Nui Sunset Cruise
For something more touristy and less adventurous, the luau was fun and something I think you should do while in Hawaii. Many of the hotels we found try to sell you on their luau and the convenience of it because it’s at your hotel, etc., but I say to spend the money, make the drive (if necessary), and go to the Old Lahaina luau. It’s by far the best on the island, with an extensive buffet, great show, super staff, and perfectly kept grounds.
If you should find yourself in Maui on Halloween, watch out. It is basically their Mardi Gras (like in New Orleans)—a lot of very drunk people in costumes—but the party stays in Lahaina. If this interests you, there are shuttle buses to get you there that your concierge will know about, and they will require you to make a reservation and pay in renting a car is a must, especially if you are the type who likes to leave the resort, see things/places, or drive the road to Hana, etc. Note that in Maui, you pay per driver when renting a car. My husband always drives, but we usually put both our names on the contract. This was a big mistake in Maui, as they charged us extra and I didn't drive once.
Regardless of where you stay, venture to the other side of the island. All the beaches in Hawaii are public—even those behind the hotels. That said, nothing is stopping you from exploring other hotels, common areas, etc. Toward the beach, behind the Four Seasons in Wailea (where we stayed), there is a nice path that connects to several other hotels. It’s a nice walk and affords you the opportunity to see other hotels. We had lunch one day at the Fairmount Kea Lani (built to try to replicate Santorini) and enjoyed ourselves and the meal very much. If you are looking for a good family hotel, I would suggest either the Westin (pictures attached) or the Grand Wailea. Both offer tons of pools, slides, waterfalls, and kids’ activities. Wailea is about a half-hour from the airport and considered the more expensive side of the island, with lots of beautiful landscaping, fountains, statues, and upscale resorts. There is also a high-end outdoor shopping mall in Wailea called the Shops at Wailea—a lot like Rodeo Drive, but Hawaiian-style.
Lahaina has more action and people, and I would say it’s considered the more fun part of town. There are lots of restaurants in close proximity and a place where people just walk the streets (Front Street mainly) and hang out (like Newport, RI). There are several beautiful scenic overlooks in Lahaina (as well as the best luau on the island) and several art galleries.
I have mixed feelings about the road to Hana. Some people will tell you it’s a must-do, and others will say you waste an entire day driving, borderline getting sick, all to see what you can basically see everywhere in Hawaii (incredible beaches, water, sand, etc). If you have a strong stomach and some extra time, I would say this might be something to consider. There are gorgeous views of the coast, several hundred curves, and lots of waterfalls. The roads are very narrow, so the person who is driving really needs to pay attention—maybe you can switch off driving?! There are places to stop, swim, take pictures, and relax, especially if you find yourself carsick.
Although we were there in the fall, winter is a great time of year to be in Hawaii. Winter (November-March) is the peak whale-watching season. It is also the peak travel season, so you will pay more and find things are more crowded, as well. Because whale-watching is such a big attraction there, it is highly competitive, and your excursion choices are unlimited, but pricey. Bring binoculars! Food can get very pricey here, as well, but you do have a few options to cut back. Many times when we travel, we have our mini-bar emptied and go to a local grocery store to get the basics to get us through at least breakfast and some daily snacks. Maui is no different, and grocery stores are in abundance. If you are looking to cut back a little, do it on breakfast and/or snacks, because the lunch and dinner options here are too good to pass up.
If you’d like to see something a little different, drive past Wailea to the southernmost part of Maui. There are lava fields there from the most recent volcanic eruption (about 200 years ago). Most concierges will not mention this because just past the lava fields are some other, more quaint beaches. These beaches have incredible water and have a lot of "privately run" water-activity rentals, meaning they don’t get a cut, so they don’t tell you about it. We fell into it, to be honest, and it was beautiful. Old folklore says not to take lava rocks off the island—it’s bad luck.
This hotel was absolutely gorgeous. In my opinion, it is the best on Maui. It has the best service, the most beautiful grounds, and several top-notch dining options. Everywhere you go you are greeted with warm smiles. The pool staff has endless energy and waits on you hand and foot. The rooms were spacious, and housekeeping was excellent as well. The concierge was both helpful prior to my stay, as well as when we arrived. In addition, we were greeted by name every time we went to the desk. The lobby was unreal – huge, wide-open spaces; tons of fresh flowers; and great views of the pool area and ocean. There is a lobby lounge, which was always packed, and the front desk was well staffed and very pleasant.
The rooms offer Internet access via the TV (not sure if there were additional high-speed hookups for personal computers, but with this hotel, I'm sure there are). When we booked, we told the reservations department that we were celebrating a special occasion and received a free bottle of wine upon arrival. There was a seating area, nice bed, and huge bathroom – everything in marble. All products/amenities were L’Occitane (which are awesome). There was a shower and a separate tub, with a huge countertop and lounge chair inside the bathroom.
This hotel is not for those looking to save money. We had a room that faced the parking lot, and we still paid almost $400 a night. You will definitely find many honeymooners here, so if that bothers you, find another hotel. There are several cabanas, even some facing the beach on the cliff. These need to be reserved with the pool staff in advance, and there is a charge for them. When you go out to the pool, the staff chases you and makes sure you are happy, comfortable, and aware that they are at your service. A fresh towel is wrapped over the cushioned lounge chair, and you are given an extra for pool use. Water and fruit are also on hand and at no extra charge all day long. The staff also offers an Evian spritzes to cool you off. The pool has a huge fountain, and it is breathtaking when approaching for the first time (who am I kidding, every time).
The spa at the Four Seasons is considered one of the best in the world, so we decided to have a couple’s massage - outstanding. I think people who go to spas are familiar with the pricing, so I would say it was slightly above normal. Their gym is also excellent. All of the equipment is brand-new, and most of the cardio machines are equipped with mini TVs. (My husband worked out with a NY Yankee.) The Four Seasons definitely make working out more enjoyable to say the least. As soon as you get there, the staff makes sure you are all set with a towel, headsets, water, etc. You want for nothing at this hotel.
There are lots of great restaurant choices, including Spago if the wallet will allow it. There is a nice place to eat (grill) by the pool. They have umbrellas, so you can eat, look at the view, and not burn in the hot Hawaiian sun. The menu was your typical poolside grill food, and the prices were average for a Hawaiian hotel.
This is not your run-of-the-mill hotel, and every aspect of this place is evident of that. It is VERY highly recommended if you can afford to go.
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