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Hawaii Trip Report - Part II.... MAUI and OAHU

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Oct 19th, 2004, 11:33 AM
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Hawaii Trip Report - Part II.... MAUI and OAHU



Now on to Part II of our trip report! After spending 5 nights on the
Big Island - we departed for Maui!

DAY SEVEN - MAUI

We took a 1:30pm flight out of Hilo (Aloha Airlines - about $75 each by
signing up for Aloha's FF program) that went through Honolulu and arrived in
Maui at 3:45pm. Not bad - especially considering the change in planes.
Getting in and out of the airports was really quick and easy - and each
flight was less than 45 minutes. Goes by VERY fast! One thing we did
that made things easier was at each destination, my husband would leave
immediately to pick up the rental car and I would collect our luggage and be
ready and waiting when he came back with the car. It was much faster and
easier than lugging our luggage on and off the rental car shuttles...

We hopped in our rental car (Standard car via Priceline - Hertz - for $180)
and began our drive to the Wailea area of Maui. First of all - I have to
say that coming from the beautiful and less 'developed' areas on the Big
Island - I was surprised and kind of disappointed to see how developed Maui
was - especially in the areas near the airport. It just looked so much like
any beach town back home.... big chain stores and restaurants on every
corner. That feeling began to dissipate, however - as we arrived in Wailea.
Staying in this area had been a recommendation of my brother and his wife -
who honeymooned in the Kanapali area but wished they'd been in Wailea. We
were SO thankful for the tip! Wailea is WONDERFUL!!!! It was developed all
at one time - and beautifully so - so it doesn't have the built up, generic
and touristy look of some other areas. Everything is subtle, manicured, and
lush. The trees lining the road into Wailea (anyone know what they are??)
are just beautiful!! It's actually hard to find your resort because they
are all tucked away so discretely.

We found our turn into the Wailea Marriott (formerly the Outrigger) which is
located right before the Wailea Shops. We fell in love from the moment we
pulled up. It has a beautiful open air lobby... something out of a Hawaiian
fantasy! (Mine, anyway!) The bellman was super helpful and as we checked
in - we learned that our garden room booked via Priceline for $150 had been
upgraded to what I imagine was one of their very BEST rooms... in Hale Three
right on the water. We had the room closest to the water of any room on the
entire property, it seemed - and were literally 10 steps from the water and
just another skip over to the pools. The view of the ocean and mountains in
the distance was just heaven - like something off a postcard. I was
THRILLED!!!!! (Incidentally - the way we got these great upgrades was from
a tip picked up here. A few weeks before departing, we just emailed the
reservations and general managers of each property, told them this trip was
a special occasion for us and that we were thrilled to be staying with them,
and discretely asked for a king, non-smoking room. We got immediate
responses back from each manager telling us they were looking forward to
having us and that they'd do everything they could to ensure we had a
wonderful stay. Worked like a CHARM!)

That first night - still beaming from our luck with the room - we enjoyed a
lovely dinner at the Roy's in Kihei (best meal we had the entire time - just
delicious and their chocolate soufflé is heavenly!) and then spent some time
in the pool. A note about the Wailea Marriott... I'd read mixed reviews on
this property... mostly dealing with their pools. Granted - they do not
offer the elaborate, "fantasy" pools of their neighboring properties - but
we didn't mind this one bit. They have two good sized pools overlooking the
ocean (by far the closest pools to the ocean of any of the other nearby
resorts) which were NEVER crowded. During our 5 days there - we were in the
pool frequently and were often one of the only ones there or had the entire
pool to ourselves. In fact- now that we're back - our friends are
commenting on how there never seem to be anyone in the background in our
pictures we took of the pool areas. We absolutely loved this! I realize we
were there in the slower season - so this surely had something to do with
it. But when we took walks around the neighboring resort pools - they
seemed much more crowded. I also noticed that most of them were surrounded
by TONS of beach chairs - just rows and rows of them. This turns me off
every time. The Marriott just had a single row rim of chairs around their
pool - which I think provides a much nicer atmosphere. The ONLY con to the
pool area here is that there is very little, if any, shade. I think this is
a problem many of the resorts have. We rented a ocean-side cabana one day
(just $15 for a half day, $25 for full - which I thought was a great deal).
These sit out overlooking the rocky beach area and provide a wonderful, cool
retreat with blissful views. Highly recommend!!! The Marriott is also kind
enough to have lounge chairs positioned throughout their property along the
ocean area - and you can easily pull them under trees if you like. We never
had a problem finding ones perfect for a nice retreat. There are beaches on
either side of the property - a very short walk (1 minute?) to each. I
actually found this aspect to be a pro for the Marriott... because the lack
of a true beach right in front of it kept the area uncluttered and the views
absolutely pristine.

Another thing we liked about the Marriott was just how low-key and relaxing
it was. The way it is laid out - a series of low-rise buildings and nice,
manicured lawns and walk-ways - makes it feel very cozy and intimate. I was
surprised to later read they have well over 500 rooms. We just felt so at
home here - everyone was so friendly and helpful and it was extremely easy
to navigate and get around. I know this must be an individual style thing -
but the other resorts we visited (Grand Wailea, Four Seasons, Fairmont) -
just seemed 'stuffy' to me and just a little over the top. I think the
Marriott provides a perfect compromise... all the amenities you could want
from a resort but without the air of stuffiness or 'intimidation' that you
aren't wearing the right thing, using the right utensil, etc.

And finally - one more note about the Marriott and I'll quit raving about
it.... it's worth noting that they are scheduled to undergo some extensive
renovations - I believe beginning this winter. The entire pool areas will
be completely rebuilt - I kind of feel sorry for anyone traveling there
during this renovation. I hope it doesn't change too much - because I think
it's just about perfection the way it is!


DAY EIGHT - MAUI

On Sunday morning, we set our alarms to wake us at 2am (yes... 2am!) to do
the Haleakala Bike Ride. We weren't sure what to think of getting up this
early - but I have to tell you that it was a breeze. Our bodies never did
fully adjust to the time zone so getting up at 2am didn't feel all that
different from getting up at 8am back home. Plus - our excitement about the
bike ride was more than enough to get us going! I can't imagine letting
a little early morning wake-call prevent anyone from enjoying this
once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

We opted to do the independent ride down the mountain - offered through the
Haleakala Bike Company. We're not one for 'group tours' to begin with -
just like the feel and independence of doing things at our own pace rather
than feeling like we're being herded along... but I also read that these
types of rides are safer. Makes sense to me - following a bunch of people
down that mountain in a single file line seems like one accident would have
a domino effect. Plus - I LOVED the unobstructed view of having absolutely
nothing between me and that amazing view.

But I digress.... we started by driving to Haiku to meet up with the company
and to get outfitted with our jackets, backpacks, etc. Our 'guide' - Tim -
was outstanding! He was so funny and amusing as we drove in the van up to
the top of the mountain. We took us to the very top (the other tours stop
at a lower point - so all the more reason to go with an independent group)
and we watched the absolutely breath-taking sunrise. I've seen few things
more impressive or beautiful. Got GREAT pictures too!!!

Then it was time to get back on the van and go down to just outside the
entrance of the park. Yet another 'perk' (to me) of doing this type of ride
is that the guided groups start at the very top. While this might seem like
a plus - it appeared to me that the most treacherous riding (sans guard
rails, no less) was at that top portion. The guided groups also have to
take their turns departing... so some wait for over an hour. We got dropped
off just outside the park entrance, Tim made sure we were comfortable on our
bikes - and off we went. I have to admit that the ride was scary at
times... but more invigorating scary than "I don't want to do this" scary!
There are A LOT of turns - but those ever-present guard rails on the
lower level made me feel better (false sense of security, perhaps?). And I
rode the brakes the entire time to keep at a manageable pace. The slower I
was going - the better I felt. But WOW.... what a ride!!! And what a
VIEW!!!! It was absolutely stunning!!!! Actually - the 'worst'
thing that can happen on an unguided tour happened to us.... my husband got
a flat tire about halfway down. But gee... what an awful place to be stuck!
We just called our company - number clearly listed on the paper they
provided - and sat down to wait and enjoy the view. We were almost sorry
when - about 20 minutes later - Tim was back with a new bike for my husband
and off we went again. Incidentally - watching the 'group' tours whiz by us
as we waited only re-enforced our belief that we'd made the right decision
for us. They were riding one of top of another and even wearing matching
outfits. I just can't imagine they got the same feeling of being one with
the world that we did riding alone. It was just a blissful, blissful
experience.

Equally blissful was the amazing breakfast we stopped to have at the Kula
Lodge.... recommended by our company. Wow! It had stunning views of the
Maui valley and wonderful eggs benedict. I was surprised more people
weren't stopping here as well - but I'm not sure the groups do a breakfast
thing as part of their ride. We were so glad we did! Then it was time to
hop back on our bikes and finish the ride back to Haiku - only having to
peddle a bit there at the end. I was so sorry when we got back to the shop
around 11am. (Although I was ready to get out of the sun.... be sure to
wear sunscreen on this trip!)

Afterwards, we realized we were practically at the start of the Road to Hana
and thought we'd check it out. I think our timing was off - we must have
been just too tired to 'get' the appeal to this drive. We did a few miles
of it but then decided to turn around and head back to Wailea. Perhaps
because of all the beautiful vistas and things we'd gotten to see on the Big
Island... the Road to Hana just didn't take our breaths away. But again -
having already been up for 9 hours might also have had something to do with
it.

We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying a relaxing time at the
Marriott - in our cabana, around the pool, etc. We had a nice quiet dinner
poolside that night and were out like lights at 8pm!


DAY NINE - MAUI

We'd definitely planned for a day of relaxation on Monday! Patrick was off
for a round of golf at the Wailea Gold (he enjoyed playing the course and
seeing the views - but didn't think it was as challenging as he'd expected
it to be) and I was off for the spa at the Grand Wailea. I went early
enough to get in a workout at their state-of-the-art gym... which I loved!
GREAT place! Then I was off to the amazing hydrotherapy pools. Ladies...
don't miss this treat! You can enjoy a full hour (or more - I did more like
80 minutes!) in their unique pools BEFORE you even start your official
'treatment'. It was heaven - soaking in the hot tubs, bathing in the
mud/mineral baths, and experiencing all the different showers. You get a
complimentary scrub as part of this time - also great. And THEN it's time
for your treatment! I had the hot lava rock massage - Georgia was my
masseuse and she was perfect - and it was outstanding. Afterwards I just
relaxed in their upstairs area overlooking the ocean and drank more of their
great papaya juice and water until I finally tore myself away. I think this
was a great value as well... my hour-long massage was $169.... ($30 added
for being a non-Grand Wailea guest) - but with that I had over an hour and a
half of added 'spa' time plus the full hour workout in their gym. So for
$199 I had almost 4 hours of pampering... not bad!

I met back up with my husband that afternoon and we drove into Lahaina to
check it out. It was fun to wonder around the shops - but again... I was
pleased to be staying in Wailea where it was so much less developed and
touristy feeling. There were just so many people and all the shops had
virtually the same thing. Just kind of reminded me of any beach town I've
been to before. Afterwards we had reservations at the Old Lahaina Luau.
For what this is - they do a very good job. The service was outstanding
(really, really impressive servers and staff - they couldn't refill our
drinks fast enough and were just friendly and pleasant) and the show was
good... but it just felt very touristy to me. I guess this shouldn't have
been a surprise - and perhaps I should have opted for the 'Feast at LeLe" -
but being surrounded by hundreds of people all doing the exact same thing
after 8 days of feeling so secluded was kind of a shock to our system. The
food was good though - and again, we were glad to have experienced a luau.
But we were happy to get back to our pretty little Wailea that night.


DAY TEN and ELEVEN - MAUI

We really stayed around Wailea these last two days.... just enjoying quiet
time reading books by the ocean, swimming at the pool and beach - and just
enjoying the beautiful weather and atmosphere. It got pretty warm in the
middle of the days - so we'd walk up to the Shops at Wailea and have lunch
(had a nice burger and fish sandwich at Cheeseburger in Paradise) or drive
up to Kihei and spend some time at Hilo Hatties (loved Hilo Hatties!)
getting souvenirs or gifts for friends and family. Also had lunch at Maui
Tacos - which was good but I'm not sure exactly why they get the raves they
do. We snorkeled at the beach in front of the Maui Prince one morning and
also drove down around Makena to explore. It was just a really peaceful and
relaxing way to wrap up our time on Maui.

The last night we had reservations at Nick's Fishmarket. We planned to take
the Wailea beach walk the entire way - but just past the Four Seasons we
encountered a big gate and intimidating signs about 'walking at your own
risk' and 'dangerous cliffs'. It was dark at this point - and we weren't
quite sure what to think. I thought the walk went all the way down - so
this was a bit of a surprise. We decided not to risk it and walked up
through the Four Seasons - planning to just walk the rest of the way on the
street side. When we got to the front of the Four Seasons - I asked the
bellman how to get to Nick's Fishmarket. Before I could barely get the
words out of my mouth - a car whisked up and they were ushering us in! I
felt bad b/c I knew they must have thought we were guests of the hotel - but
heck... we weren't going to argue too much! (We did tip nicely!)

Dinner at Nick's was all it is rumored to be - very classy, enjoyable and
delectable! They do a very good job at what they do... my only comment
would be that having so many waiters was a little confusing. But overall -
a great night! We didn't really feel like walking all the way back at this
point and asked the staff at the Fairmont if they could provide a ride.
Once again - a car appeared immediately and our very friendly driver took us
back to the Marriott. He informed us that it's condos next to the Four
Seasons who have tried to intimidate people into not using the beach walk in
front of their property - but that it is perfectly legal and safe to do so.
Evidently it's caused quite an uproar in the area as one of the conditions
when they were sold the property was to keep the beach walk open for
everyone - but they've tried everything to 'scare' people away. Just
something I thought everyone should know - so they are fooled like we were.
However - getting driven around like rock stars was a fun treat too!


DAY TWELVE - HONOLULU

Alas... all good things must come to an end (...or do they?) - and on
Thursday it was time to depart. Luckily - we'd routed our flight through
Honolulu with a long layover - so we had a nice diversion before facing the
long flight back to DC. We left Maui (after a yummy breakfast at Longhi's
in the Wailea Shops) around 11:30am via Aloha Airlines... who kindly checked
our bags all the way through to DC. By 12:30pm we were on the ground in
Honolulu and picking up our rental. We'd reserved a standard car via
Priceline for just $30 for the day (National) - and were delighted to be
offered a free upgrade to a convertible. We'd actually been made this same
offer at each destination - but turned them down because we didn't want that
much sun exposure. But it seemed like a great thing to take advantage of
for one day!

Our first stop was Pearl Harbor (the main reason for making this stop in
Honolulu) - and we'd been a little concerned about getting tickets. We were
there by 1pm... and were delighted to get tickets for the 2pm tour. So we
just had an hour to grab some snacks and enjoy the little museum. The tour
starts with a movie with original footage... partly filmed by the Japanese.
It was an OUTSTANDING document of the events of and leading up to that day.
Afterwards, a boat takes you to the USS Arizona Memorial - which is very
tastefully done. You can still see the oil bubbling up from the ship
below - really amazing.

We were done at Pearl Harbor by 3pm and our flight wasn't until 10:30pm that
evening. So it was time to take the top down and explore! We drove up to
the Pali Lookout - which was a really great way of getting a feel for the
area - and then took a nice drive down around the southeastern end of the
island. We drove through Diamond Head and then watched the sun set at
Waikiki Beach. I was so impressed with the lovely park area around Waikiki.
What a great place for the community! Lots of people out walking, soccer
games being played, etc. We then headed to Sand Island to dine at a place
recommended in Frommer's - "La Marianna". This was a really neat place with
tons of character and good food. The very interesting history of the place
(also a sailing club) is on each table.... written by the owner. During our
meal, Marianna herself (a lovely 90 year old woman!) came by our table to
check on us - and we had a nice little chat. Simply charming and a GREAT
way to end our day and vacation.

We had no problem returning our rental car (even met the stunt coordinator
for "Lost" - filmed on Oahu - on the shuttle back to the airport!) - and had
plenty of time to do some last minute shopping at the airport and get
settled before our flight. By 3pm the next day... we were home -- ready to
enjoy our pictures from this trip and excited to plan our next....




Hope this review has been helpful! Truly - this board was SUCH a tremendous
resource to me when planning this trip. I'm a huge fan and hope to help
others as they plan now as well.......

carabro is offline  
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Oct 19th, 2004, 12:05 PM
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Carabro,

Excellent report - thanks so much for sharing everything - loved the details!

I was wondering if you could direct me to how you found the reservations and general manager's email address (to email them about your upcoming stay and to inform them of your special occassion etc.). I am staying at the Marriott in Lihue, Kauai and I would like to email the reservations and general manager there, but I don't know how to obtain their email addresses. I've checked the Marriott site, but didn't find anything. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Tracey
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Oct 19th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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Thornphoenix,

I also wrote to Marriott Lihue using a link on the website, here is the internet customer's address from their reply (not Lihue's location): [email protected].
They guaranteed me a nonsmoking, 2 double bed room. And I booked thru Priceline. Did not mention anything about special occasion, but am a Marriott Reward member.
Regards,
Hanalei
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Oct 19th, 2004, 02:46 PM
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carabro - great trip report! Makes me ready to plan another one myself. Thanks for all the details.
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Oct 19th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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Carabro: Thanks for a wonderful trip report! It brought back a lot of memories of our stay at the Wailea Marriott last winter: the cabanas on the rocks overlooking the ocean, the walking path past all the hotels, the first impression of the hotel when you pull up to the open air lobby in your rental car and have to pinch yourself to make sure you aren't dreaming!! the Shops were a big plus too. i found the Wailea Marriott to be a little serene slice of paradise!
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Oct 20th, 2004, 05:52 AM
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading both trip reports. We're almost neighbors, I live in VA. That long flight home is a killer, but you were smart to break it up. My husband and I visited Maui two years ago, and I too really enjoyed Roys in Kiehi. We stayed at the Kea Lani and of course had dinner at Nicks too. Like you, I preferred Roys. Your good luck with Priceline has inspired me to give them a try for our return trip to Hawaii next year. Again, your trip report was great reading. Thanks.
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Oct 22nd, 2004, 12:20 PM
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Thornphoenix...

We just called the hotel directly and asked for the name and email address of these folks. They were more than happy to provide...

Hope that helps! Good luck!!!
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Nov 6th, 2004, 06:43 PM
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Carabro - thanks for the trip report - it's very helpful! I'll be in Maui in three weeks with my fiance and we were thinking of doing the bike ride. Do you remember what group you used? I think based on your advice we'll opt for that versus the guided group tours as well. Thanks!
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Nov 6th, 2004, 06:44 PM
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Oops - I just reread your post and you already posted the company. Thanks - sorry!
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Nov 7th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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carabro: I'm alittle confused about the rides to and from Nick's. You sound as if they were "complimentary". Is this so? If so, do many of the restaurants/resorts do this?
Great trip report! Thanks, OSB
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Nov 7th, 2004, 11:01 AM
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carabro:
Also, had you been to that airport before, and therefore knew where to meet your hubby with the luggage/car thing? Or is it just so clearly labeled, there was no question about missing each other? Thanks OSB.
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Nov 9th, 2004, 04:04 AM
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ttt
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Nov 9th, 2004, 08:22 AM
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Kahului Airport is small. It would be really hard to miss anyone outside of the baggage claim area
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Nov 9th, 2004, 02:51 PM
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here: Thanks!OSB.
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