fell lazily in the humid, Hawaiin heat. It pattered
against the rooftop and trickled down the windows
of my cottage, accompanying the sounds of the
roaring Pacific that crashed against boulders
not far from an outstretched balcony. It was late
evening when our charter plane had reached the
tiny landing strip five miles south of the Hotel
Hana-Maui and the short drive had proven unrevealing
- void of street lights, my first glimpse of Hana
was lit by two large, burning torches that marked
the hotel's entrance.
so my first night at the resort was spent dreaming
of what the morning sun would unveil. I fell asleep
to the consistant sounds of water: falling, crashing
and churning. Near six o'clock the next morning,
I awoke to the persistent crows of a wandering
rooster. A rooster? In Maui?
many other occurrences that altered my preconceived
notions, this trip to the small town of Hana,
on Maui's eastern coast, forever changed my mindscape
of the often tourist-laden Hawaiian Islands. Miles
away from any other resort, hotel or establishment
for that matter, Hotel Hana-Maui gives the word
seclusion new meaning. Quiet, serene and simple,
the resort exudes an elegance unmatched by trendy
locales, posh furnishings and fast-paced lifestyles.
here means simple. No televisions, no internet
access, no air conditioning, no alarm clocks.
Yes, you heard right, no alarm clocks. That's
what the rooster's for, remember?
surprisingly, living without these 21st century
necessities is not as difficult as you may imagine.
Who needs a radio when crashing waves provide
background music? Who needs a T.V. when you have
a tropical rainforest to explore?
ranches, most of which are cottage structures
with 2 separate rooms, are available at Hotel
Hana-Maui. They are laid out across a vast span
of soft green grass, each one positioned to provide
the most breathtaking view possible of the ocean.
and comfortable, the ranches feature cool, hardwood
floors, pillow-topped mattresses and cathedral
ceilings from which tireless ceiling fans dangle.
Beds are made up in thin and multiple layers (some
of which are peeled off at turndown and stored
away to make for a more cool, comfortable sleep,)
luxe pillows and padded headboards perfect for
Expansive ceramic tiled bathrooms are roomy and private, offering a windowed wall and door that lead out to a personal fenced-in patio. A sunken tub dominates the day-lit area and an open, doorless shower makes bathing a breeze, literally.
Each room offers a sitting area and bar; while the sea ranch cottages look out onto a wide wooden deck and ocean view. Small touches like a refrigerator filled with complimentary bottled water, soda and guava orange juice help visitors unwind and fresh Hana Blend Dark-Roast Organic coffee beans and grinder aid in preparation for the resort's offered morning yoga class.
A short walk from your private ranch will take you to the workout center where yoga classes take place. Jump onto a treadmill and you'll be gazing straight out onto the water - a view that may almost make you forget you're working out. Walk past the work out center and you'll find find one of two outdoor pools, situated to surround you with either dense inland forest or water views, the hotel center (lobby, restaurant, art gallery) or the nationally-renown Honua Spa.
I began my first morning by walking to the lobby. I was greeted then, and every day after, with warm smiles and personal advice, and was kindly pointed in the direction of the restaurant where I could find more fresh guava-passion-orange juice. Quite addicting, by the way. Welcoming and beautifully appointed, the open-air lobby connects to the Hana Ranch Restaurant, Paniolo Lounge and Ka'uiki Restaurant, among small, intimate shops and the town's only art gallery.
A few steps behind, you'll see Honua Spa. Blanketed in tropical foliage from the outside, the spa gives way to clear ocean views once you're escorted from the waiting area. A long, tranquil hot tub, outdoor sauna and padded lounge chaises decorate the scenery while you wait, wrapped in a waffle-knit robe, for your spa therapist.
A wide range of pampering specialties are at your fingertips - and the Hot Stone Facial and traditional Lomilomi massage beckoned me. A combination of rhythmic strokes, joint movement and deep kneading loosened and set my body at ease. During the facial, heated stones were rolled up and down my tired, jet-lagged muscles and citrus-scented cleanser, mask and cream left my face smooth, soft and glowing.
It may have been the post-treatment delirium, but I bought almost every scent in the hotel's signature soap line on my way out of the spa - each handmade, wrapped right there in Hana, and found (sample size) in every hotel room.
It would have been easy to stay within the resort's parameters all day, but my adventurous side dared to explore. From the hotel I drove to the tip of Haleakala, Maui's 10,000-foot dormant volcano, twisting, turning and barely careening along the devastatingly steep coastline. In a matter of 35 miles I had taken 630 curves and passed over 54 one-lane bridges. I made it to the volcano's peak alive, only to find it and myself engulfed in the shroudy, white confines of a wet, Hawaiin cloud.
Although it would have been a spectacular sight on a clear day, I had enjoyed the trip itself enough to make it worth my time. I took the ride home leisurely, stopping alongside the highway to admire tumbling waterfalls and cliff-top expanses. As it turns out, curves and twisties in roads foreign to tourists (and a 10 mph speed limit) hardly phase daredevil locals, who typically drive monstrous 4 wheel drive vehicles and have a tendency to grow impatient with hesitant drivers. My advice - pull over and let them pass as soon as the opportunity arises. There's no need for you to hurry here. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, and keep your eye open for prime photo ops - which are aplenty.
As the end of my vacation drew near, I found myself dreading the shrill ring of a cell phone, and the monotone buzz of an alarm clock that would surely greet me once I arrived home. I would miss the sound of the waves, the wind blowing through the screen doorwall while I slept and the rapid "whirr" of steadfast ceiling fans overhead.
Arriving back home, it didn't take long to realize that I had been right. I do miss those things; but it helps just a bit to know that they exist - if only a plane ride away.