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Travel

Island Allure
Five-Star Cuisine and a Luxury Spa Make for an Unforgettable Escape at the Fairmont Kea Lani

The fifth hour of our day-long Maui snorkel adventure felt longer than the four previous ones combined. Our bellies, full after having eaten an on-board barbecue, tightened against the bopping and swaying of the boat. Our sunglasses were blasted with sea spray every few minutes, making them useless beneath the dense gray sky. None of the passengers was basking in the sun. Instead, many focused on the horizon, hoping the Pacific Whale Foundation’s vessel would finally find a smooth path along waters roughened by 30-mile-an-hour winds.

I stood behind the captain’s chair, watching the small crew pass binoculars to one another, each feverishly searching for an alternate snorkeling site. We attempted Molokini, but abandoned the popular crater within minutes. Now we were headed toward the home of giant green sea turtles. Since I couldn’t hear the crew’s conversation over the howling wind, I busied myself with mental visions of old Gilligan’s Island episodes. I knew I was in good hands here. This boat was bigger than the USS Minnow, the crew saltier, and our MaryAnn—a marine biologist well versed in ocean life—could out-kayak Ginger hands down.

It was only day two of our Maui escape, and already there seemed to be nothing—choppy seas included—that could get me down.

Having been to Maui many years ago, I had already witnessed the early-morning sun burst through Haleakala’s cloud-covered peak. I’d hiked from one Hana waterfall to another. Even picnicked on Black Sand Beach. This trip—my first island vacation alone with my husband since we became parents three years ago—was to be purely indulgent. So while we didn’t see dolphins on this cruise and had to weather uncooperative water, I found it all amusing. It couldn’t ruin my anticipation of returning to The Fairmont Kea Lani, the luxury resort known to occasionally host diplomats, celebrities, even royalty.

Our 840-square-foot suite was one of 413 located on a stretch of white sand. Resort accommodations are true to Fairmont style—luxurious and pampering. Celebrity guests—ranging from Saudi princes to Britney Spears—often stay at one of the resort’s 37 villas which feature private lanais for family barbecues prepared by the hotel chef.

Despite our luxurious digs, we spent the majority of our time outdoors. Day three was lost on poolside mai tais in a cabana equipped with Dedon lounge chairs and a cooler packed with juice and fresh fruit. Yoga and morning jogs along the serpentine boardwalk allowed us to feel like we earned our massages, while jaunts to nearby neighborhoods like Haili’imaile and unexpected attractions like the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm gave us local flavor.

When our bodies ached from all the walking—or from rocking to and fro on choppy seas—we surrendered to Spa Kea Lani, the resort’s luxury spa, where lomi lomi massages are a popular choice. Every massage room in the 5,500-square-foot resort spa features state-of-the-art hydraulic massage tables, while an oversized jetted tub is the focal point of the hydrotherapy room. Couples can either receive a massage in tandem in the couple’s suite or, better yet, reserve the Hale Ne’ehope, an outdoor spa cabana where massages are served with stunning views of the resort grounds. Spa Kea Lani offers 50 spa experiences, including the Noni Body Wrap to tighten neglected skin and the Ocean Radiance Facial, which uses protein-rich caviar and powerful antioxidants to renew skin and smooth fine lines. For the Lomi Lomi treatment, therapists utilize their forearms and elbows to provide ultimate rejuvenation to tired muscles.

Kea|Lani|Wailea|Maui|Pool

Fairmont|Kea|Lani|Maui|Arches

Fairmont|Wailea|Maui|Spa|Cabana

Kea|Lani|Maui|Dining|Ko|Spring Rolls

Foodies at heart, we’ve altered our daily lives to accommodate a toddler, meaning dinners commonly involve mac-n-cheese and chicken fingers. One goal for our island escape was to indulge in flavors we could hardly enjoy at home. At Kō, The Fairmont’s signature restaurant, we feasted on dishes reflective of the island’s Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese heritage. Its distinctly flavorful menu included lumpia (spring rolls), pancit (stir fried rice noodles) and tasty lobster tempura made even more addictive with three dipping sauces—spicy-sesame, pineapple sweet chili garlic and grapefruit soy sauce.

While the food alone was a reminder that we were hundreds of miles from home, the setting was straight out of Fantasy Island. On this, our final night at the Fairmont Kea Lani, we were served a feast inside a dimly lit cabana, surrounded by gently swaying palm trees beneath a star-lit sky. Tiki torches lit a meandering path, and the moon cast a glow on the white villas surrounding us. It seemed as though time itself slowed to the rhythmic sound of the ocean. Our island spa escape couldn’t have been more perfectly orchestrated than this.

The Fairmont Kea Lani, Wailea, 808-875-4100
Haleakala sunrise tour: Mountain Rider, 808-877-4994
Lana’i wild dolphin snorkel trip: Pacific Whale Foundation, 808-249-8811
Hana waterfalls and rainforest hike: Hike Maui, 808-879-5270
Mama’s Fish House, Paia, 808-579-9764


 
 
 

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