Oh man, Maui was great. Where do I start? First off, this was a trip planned by my boyfriend. So I had no idea what would happen other than that there was an itinerary set in motion once we land down in Maui. And the great thing was that he had planned this trip based off what I needed to hit on my List for the blog....and that meant a lot. So thank you Dixon!
So we only had a 3 day weekend to get through this but I personally didn't feel that rushed over it. Plus, we plan to come back and fully enjoy the rest of the island we couldn't explore, so I wasn't too worried about it. Keep in mind we only had two nights so we hotel hopped each night to check out what different parts of the island had to offer. The first night we stayed at was The Grand Wailea Resort & Spa, which is the most amazing hotel I stayed at in Hawaii thus far! It recently was obtained by Waldorf Astoria (which is part of the Hilton Collection), so if you're a Hilton Honors member I would highly recommend using your points to stay here. We arrived at around 1 pm at Kahului airport, got our rental car, and headed straight to the resort so that we can enjoy the pool and Wailea Canyon waterpark (inside the resort). It was a bit chilly that day, but it wasn't going to stop us from dipping our toes in the pool! I kept hearing about this water elevator that the resort owner built for his handicapped son, and even though it was probably going to be lame, I can't say many people have used a water elevator....so ya, I wanted bragging rights. There were a couple of water slides, a lazy river, a rope swing, a swim-up grotto bar, an adults-only pool, and a pool restaurant that served us some amazing Volcano nachos. The resort is huge and you can easily get lost, so be sure you know where you're walking to and from.
After we got settled in, we got ready for a nice romantic dinner at a fancy dining spot on the List that's inside The Fairmont Kea Lani called Ko. I ordered all the items that the book suggested, and I was pretty disappointed. Let's start with the Portuguese bean soup that had Portuguese sausage, white beans, and vegetables in a tomato-sauce like broth. The taste was interesting and it got better as I ate it more and more, but I only ate it because I didn't want to waste food. My entree was the Lobster Tempura and it was pretty good. But can you really go wrong with lobster and anything fried? Probably not. And for the steep price of $47, I didn't think it was worth it. We were also disappointed by the size of the restaurant (which was next to an ice cream shop within the hotel) and the restaurant view of the pool. You would think that they would put a high end restaurant up towards the beach....but I guess not.
After dinner we headed back to our hotel for a few hours of sleep before we had to wake up at 3 am for our sunrise Haleakala bike ride. Well, Dixon decided to let me sleep through the alarm (cause "I looked so peaceful"; but I also wasn't waking up) and we missed the chance to bike down the volcano! Oh well, I guess next time? Since we missed the bike ride, our consolation prize was to have breakfast at Kula Lodge, which is located towards the bottom of Haleakala Volcano. Kula Lodge & Restaurant is a hotel restaurant and the restaurant itself is somewhat on the smaller size. But they have floor to ceiling glass windows that display really great views of the island while you dine, and there isn't a bad seat in the house! And on warmer days, I'd recommend dining out on their patio and deck area! So, on the List, they recommended getting the macadamia nut and banana pancakes at this place. And believe me, after the dinner the night before, I was hesitant in ordering it. But they ended up being one of the best and most memorable pancakes I've ever had in my life. I'm not one to dramatize things, but the coconut milk maple syrup on these pancakes were LIFE-CHANGING! Yes, the pancakes themselves looked like regular old pancakes. But the syrup made such a huge difference! So yes, this place is Richard approved and I highly recommend anyone to go and try it themselves.
Now, before lunch, we made a little detour and headed over to Makena Beach (also called Oneloa Beach) to see what the beach scene was like since we didn't really have much time to lay out (and plus it was really cloudy that day). There were a good amount of people still on the beach and the parking lot was packed. We ended up just parking along the side of the street like everybody else so it was totally fine. If you are following the book like I am, don't go to Makena Grill; because the owners no longer are running the food cart. After taking some beach photo's and enjoying the view, we made our way to our 2nd hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Resort. But before I talk about the Ritz, I want to do a quick shout-out to Coconut's Fish Cafe for having some amazing fish tacos! The one we went to was in the Azeka Place Shopping Center, and it's just a regular restaurant inside a plaza. There are a couple of locations on the mainland, but if you're in Maui you should check it out. Alright, now about the Ritz. I was planning on staying at this hotel when the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival came around, but I'm glad Dixon was able to let me experience this place during its non-festival time so I know how it truly is as a hotel. And I thought it was an okay hotel overall. It could have been because I was just at the Grand Wailea Resort the night before, and the Ritz just got overshadowed? The valet team at the Ritz wasn't on top of their game during our stay, the reception team was also struggling to greet guests properly, and the backdrop to our balcony was a golf course. It was a nice stay...just nothing that stood out in my opinion.
However, what did stand out was our awesome luau that we went to in Old Lahaina. I've only been to 2 luau's thus far (one on the Big Island and one in Oahu) and I think The Old Lahaina Luau is the best one yet! Maybe it was because I was with Dixon and it felt romantic, but the setup seemed more intimate and the food/beverage quality also seemed on point. It was an open bar for you cocktail lovers and an all-you-can-eat buffet for you foodies. And at the end, they send you off with a parting gift (a small loaf of banana bread). The luau was about the same size as other luau's I've been to and they had basically the same activities for guests as well, which include 'Ulu Maika, the imu ceremony, playing Hawaiian instruments, etc. I wouldn't say all luau's are the same because there are a few customs and traditions local to the area, but I would say a good majority of them are similar. As I check out more luau's, I'll be sure to update you and tell you which one's are worth it.
On a side note, I don't golf. So if there are any golf courses that are suggested in the book, like the Wailea Golf Club in Maui, all I'm going to do is drive by and take a picture of it as proof that I was actually there. So here's your proof!