Archive for September 2015

Last Half Day on Maui   Leave a comment

All good things must come to an end, and so our trip to Maui wraps up.

We tried to enjoy that last morning by relaxing on the lanai, walking around the beach path, and taking photos.

Wailea Beach

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Fours Seasons Maui

However reality finally took over and it was time to pack and say goodbye to this beautiful island.

Driving to the airport and dropping of the rental car was uneventful.  The hard part was standing in the sweltering sauna of the security line.  The TSA agents had large fans blowing on them, but us passengers had to just suffer and sweat.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I read that someone had collapsed from the heat.  It was that bad.

Finally we made it through security and passed into the blissfully air-conditioned terminal.  After cooling down, we had a quick lunch at the café near our gate (hamburger with Velveeta anyone??).  Not exactly the scrumptious food we’d been used to all week, but it filled the hole.

The flight to San Francisco was long but uneventful (notice how the flight back from vacation is never as fun as the flight TO vacation??).  We had an hour in the airport before boarding our next flight.  It gave us just enough time to grab a sandwich for the fight before boarding.  The flight was at 11:00 pm, so there was no food service…although it felt like dinner time to us!

I had purposefully not allowed myself to sleep on the flight to SFO in the hopes that I would be able to sleep on the leg home.  No go.  I did doze fitfully, but was a puddle of incoherency by the time I got home.  A couple of good naps set me right again and by Sunday I felt more or less back on east coast time.  Although the transition back to local time was less painful than expected, we are already thinking that the next time we venture to Hawaii, we will spend a couple of days on the west coast on the way back to break things up.

Next up, some observations and final thoughts…

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Posted September 15, 2015 by cubechick in Hawaii - All Maui This Time!

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The Great Maui Mai-Tai Review   Leave a comment

For some reason I decided prior to this trip that I would order Mai-Tai’s in each restaurant or bar and review them. This is odd because the Mai-Tai is not a standard drink for me. In fact the only Mai-Tai’s I have liked were at Duke’s on Waikiki and Kauai. I think it was the fresh juice that drew me. Hence the mission. Hawaii seems to be the land of the best Mai-Tai’s, so why not sample and report back?  (And yes, tastes are subjective, so this is my personal opinion only.)

From the bottom up:

Needless to say, the worst was at the airport bar, Stinger Ray’s.  I ordered this as we left just to round out the contenders.  It won points for height and having an umbrella, but was sticky sweet in flavor, and despite it being a “double” the rum was imperceptible.

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Next was the Mai-Tai at the Ocean Grill Bar at the Westin KOR.  Not as sweet as the airport, but a heavy maraschino cherry flavor that could not be ignored. Great atmosphere though!

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Next up would be the Mai-Tai at Duke’s Beach House. It just lacked the deep flavors that I recall, and also had a hint of the maraschino cherry flavor I detected at the Westin. Two thumbs up for the glass though!

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Next up was Duke’s sister property, the Hula Grill. I don’t know if the difference is because their menu lists fresh pineapple juice (Duke’s doesn’t) or maybe they use different rum?  Or maybe it was just two different bartenders on two different days?  But the Hula Grill Mai-Tai made me think, “That’s the stuff,” that I recall from 2011.

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Plus the umbrella was a nice touch.

Now we get into the top three and the finalists are a tricky bunch.

I put Fleetwood’s Mai-Tyler at number three.  They do have the plaque stating that they won a contest this year for best Mai-Tai. And with it’s lilikoi foam and velvet falernum, it is unique  (and well worth checking out) but if you close your eyes, it does not taste like a Mai-Tai.  There is a spicy clove flavor that isn’t present in a typical Mai-Tai.

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At number two I rank the Kipahulu Lulu Mai-Tai at the Four Seasons Lobby Lounge, which according to the menu, won an award in 2012 for the best Mai-Tai.

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It is certainly the strongest! A very prevalent rum flavor mellowed by the bing cherry foam.

Monkeypod Kitchen claims to have the best Mai-Tai, and I have to agree.  It was a very balanced cocktail with a honey and lilikoi foam (which knocked out some of the tartness of the lilikoi).  Not too boozy and not too sweet, this Mai-Tai hit the spot for me.

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Now you just have to go out on your own Mai-Tai challenge and see if you agree!

Lazy Day in Maui (again!)   Leave a comment

I am embarrassed to admit that we scrapped our plans for the day, which had included going down to La Perouse Bay.

After another breakfast at Cheeseburger Island Style  (huge portions by the way on top of the reasonable prices) we just hung out at the resort.

We did leave to go to Monkeypod Kitchen for lunch.  This was by far our favorite meal of the week.  The lobster deviled eggs were fantastic  (the fresh dill really make them pop) and the ahi poke taco appetizer just amazing.

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DH had the saiman noodle bowl for lunch. The portion was substantial and delicious.

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Finally, I am not a dessert person, but am a big fan of trying foods that I cannot have at home. So I tried the lilikoi cream pie.

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Wow! It was tart and delicious. My first thought was that it was akin to the Hawaiian version of Key Lime pie.

After our scrumptious lunch, we were all about football. Originally I had thought to find a local bar to watch the kick-off of the NFL season. But the largest TV I found was the 60″ TV in our hotel room, so we opted to watch the game there. The time difference really worked for us here.  The game ended at around 5:30, a perfect time to seek a cocktail and dinner.

We ended up at the Lobby Lounge again. I had been very frustrated by it’s great reviews on Trip Advisor as a restaurant, but I couldn’t find the menus anywhere. So I made certain to take pictures.

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We had the flatbread and cheese plate which were both very good, if skimpy on portions.

The next day was packing. 😥

Posted September 12, 2015 by cubechick in Hawaii - All Maui This Time!

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Lazy Day Five in Maui   Leave a comment

It was a gorgeous morning in Wailea.

DH and I walked over to the Shops at Wailea to have breakfast at Cheeseburger Island Style. A very reasonably priced breakfast for Maui (and many cities actually).  $7.99 for 2 eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee.  Other options averaged around $11.  Not bad, and the food was pretty good to boot!

We walked through the Marriott to get to the beach walk. A nice property, but as it doesn’t have a beach, I never really considered staying there.

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Walking along I got a nice shot of Molokini Crater.

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We approached the Four Seasons and spotted a couple of open loungers on the beach. I held them while DH ran to grab the snorkeling gear.

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The water was clearer than Kaanapali, but still not great so no good pictures. But DH was very happy to have seen both a yellow and a blue humuhumunukunukuapua’a.  🙂

We had lunch at Ferraro’s and while I thoroughly enjoyed my seafood cobb salad (grilled shrimp, crab salad, lobster salad, egg, bacon, and avocado with ranch dressing):

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The heat finally got to us.  With the only airconditioned area at the Four Seasons being our room, we eventually ended up there to cool off. We even ended up canceling our reservation at Monkeypod Kitchen. Hopefully we will make it for lunch tomorrow.

Haleakala and Moving Day   Leave a comment

So we had decided up front that we wanted to split our short trip between Kaanapali and Wailea to experience those two different areas of Maui. It was with some sadness that we checked out of the Westin KOR as we had thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

Our drive to Haleakala was excellent. We were blessed with fantastic weather this day.

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I do have to say that after navigating the hairpin turns you encounter past the park entrance (without guardrails mind you!), there is no way I would make that drive in the dark. So sunrise and sunset at the summit is not going to be seen by yours truly!

The Gypsy App explained how quickly the cloud cover shifts at the summit and we saw it first hand.

The crater had a fair amount of clouds when we arrived.

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But after being completely socked in, fifteen minutes later, it looked like this.

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Staggeringly beautiful.

We continued to the actual summit and continued to be overwhelmed by the colors and spectacular views.

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After making our way back down to sea level (very grateful to see guardrails again) we drove to the Four Seasons.

Cubebear appreciated the Lei greeting.

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The resort is as gorgeous as you would expect.

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And naturally, the service impeccable. But so far I prefer the more laid-back atmosphere of Kaanapali.

Keeping things casual, we had a light dinner at the Lobby Lounge then walked next door to the Grand Wailea for after-dinner libations at Humu’s.

We haven’t settled on what we are doing tomorrow, I am sure exploring the area is on the list.

Posted September 9, 2015 by cubechick in Hawaii - All Maui This Time!

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On to Day Three!   Leave a comment

Woke up at 7:00 (seriously I do not get how we locked into Maui time so easily…travelling west is usually horrible for the two of us.) DH attempted to snorkel. After all, the snorkeling here is one of the reasons I chose this resort. Unfortunately there were big swells and the hurricanes have blown up visibility. 😯

So after a quick breakfast in our room, we headed off to the Nakalele Blowhole. Heeding the advice on Trip Advisor, we drove straight there, intending to stop at other spots on the way back.

I purchased the Maui Gypsy app before the trip and this was our first chance to use it.  Awesome app! Well worth the $9.99 price for the entire island.  I have to admit that I closed it down after the third track educating me about surfing though!

We made it to the Blowhole, but torrential rains the day before made for a very slippery passage. So we opted to keep to the higher ground.

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After the Blowhole, we made our way south again and stopped at several overlooks on the way back to Kaanapali.

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The Gypsy app had us stop at DT Fleming beach, a spot we would have missed on our own. Nice sandy beach, but the current was quite rough here.

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Our plan was to stop at Kapalua on the way back to Kaanapali for lunch. I had more or less settled on the Sea House, but perhaps due to the Labor Day holiday, parking was insane.

So we continued down to Whalers Village and the Hula Grill. We very much enjoyed our lunch at the Barefoot Bar.  DH had the grilled fish of the day and I had the flatbread with Kahula pork, pineapple, and Maui onions. Very good!

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Dining here yielded a 3-hour parking validation. Sweet!  So we poked around some shops. Realized how expensive ABC Stores are when their prices match the little market on the property!  😨

Back to the resort we chilled and did a final load of laundry. Headed out for aloha hour.  Had an interesting conversation with owners here. We were told that the Westin has sold it’s interest in the property so it will no longer be part of the Starwood Group. The new tower being built will be larger villas, up to four bedrooms. They don’t expect much change, but realize that the new management is putting the most positive spin on this that they can.

We opted for a “real” dinner tonight at Pulehu, the Italian restaurant on site. It started off great, with us being giving excellent seats overlooking the koi pond.

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I ordered from the prix fixe menu and was very happy with my meal. I loved the presentation of the Caesar salad.

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But DH had moldy cheese on his antipasto platter which quickly put a damper on things.  The waitress couldn’t have handled the situation better. She whisked away the platter and removed both it and DH’s entree from the check. Completely unnecessary for her to remove the latter, but we very much appreciated the effort to make the dining experience here a positive.

We made a final stop at the Ocean Grill to say goodbye to the friendliest bartender on the island, Christopher, then it was time to start packing for our move to Wailea tomorrow.

Maui Day Two   Leave a comment

I intentionally kept our plans low key today as I wasn’t sure of our energy level. We managed to stay up until 9:30 the night before, but I was surprised when DH woke me at 6:30 this morning. How on earth did I get onto Maui time so quickly? Well, however it happened, I am going with it.  First we went for a walk along the beach path and simply enjoyed the amazing morning.

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Then we took advantage of having a kitchen at our disposal and made breakfast which we enjoyed on the lanai. I am very happy that the Westin provides a little cleaning kit for our use. While I had a grocery list sorted and even brought laundry soap with me, dish detergent had escaped my thoughts.

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We then walked the beach path down to the Sheraton and Black Rock. I had three major thoughts during the walk. First just how gorgeous this part of the island is.

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The second was how glad I am that we chose the resort we did. The beach path meanders through three other resorts and they are all noticeably older than the Westin. Even the Sheraton lacks the plush landscaping at the Westin.

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And finally, just how blazingly hot it is here! It wasn’t even 9:00 am and it was already a scorcher. I know the locals have complained too about the humidity this summer and the lack of trade winds (which we were fortunate to have yesterday).  Thank goodness I can do laundry because we’re going to sweat through everything!

The heat didn’t detour our plans though. After a much needed cool-off we took the complimentary shuttle to Lahaina. We wandered down Front Street to Banyan Park. How seriously impressive is that tree?

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Poked into various shops (mostly to take advantage of air conditioning), before ending up at Fleetwood’s for lunch.  Delicious food and a unique cocktail menu. I had the “lime in the coconut” which was absolutely amazing. 

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The service here was top notch. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough.

The timing was perfect for us to swing into the ABC store for some water before hopping on the shuttle back to the resort (the ABC store is the pick-up point for the shuttle). 

At this point we got very lazy. I did a load of laundry, and we wandered to the pool bar for aloha  (happy) hour. A nice breeze actually showed up so we decided to cancel our dinner reservation at Duke’s  (enclosed, no air conditioning!), and took advantage of the aloha menu to order some heavy pupus. The short rib lettuce wraps were initially a giant fail! First bite yielded an enormous wad of fat! But the bartender quickly whisked that away and got us a new order that was much tastier.

The north towers have a separate bar with  a different aloha hour. The Pailolo Grill operates out of a food truck and has a different menu than the Ocean Grill.  Also a much more relaxed vibe.  It was strange that you almost felt like you were at a different resort, but cool that you have very different choices.

Posted September 7, 2015 by cubechick in Hawaii - All Maui This Time!

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