By Hank & Elaine Levy
These days planning a well deserved vacation is no simple matter, especially in light of the growing anti-Semitic climate in Europe, and the recent travel-related terrorist threats aimed at Americans. If you are concerned about safety, supporting America and experiencing a place many view as paradise, then you should consider a visit to the Hawaiian Islands.
Imagine no language problem, no anti-Semitism, no resentment of American strength, power and beneficence, temperatures in the 80s, swaying palm trees, the blue Pacific Ocean beckoning, and an assortment of the finest accommodations welcoming you to be their guests. How can you not love what the Islands have to offer?
The magical isle of Maui had even intrigued Mark Twain who intended to stay a week, but remained more than a month. The second largest island in the Hawaiian chain, Maui has more miles of swimmable beaches than any other island in addition to tropical rainforests, and magnificent rocky cliffs. We were introduced to three different faces of Maui and they were all quite special -- Waikea in the south central, Hana in the east, and Lahaina in the west.
Just forty-five minutes from the airport is the resort area of Wailea and its crown jewel, The Four Seasons Hotel. This magnificent hotel is located on one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui. The classical design of this Resort ensures a breathtaking view of the ocean for the majority of the rooms. All guest rooms are equipped with large marble bathrooms and a spacious lanai (Hawaiian patio). The posh furnishings, gardens and waterfalls add to the romantic and tranquil atmosphere.
Ferraro's at The Four Seasons provides the perfect setting for a very romantic dinner. We dined under the stars and watched the sunset on the ocean water. Even after thirty years of marriage, it was easy to fall in love again.
A Four Seasons offering not to be missed is a spa treatment at their health club. We both indulged in their signature treatment massage which combines lomi lomi, Swedish massage and aroma therapy. The long, firm strokes and soothing oils totally relaxed our bodies, and replenished us with new energy. Their spa menu is extensive, and the highly skilled staff includes massage therapists specializing in Traditional Hawaii, Master Thai, Craniosacral, Reiki and Ayurvedic massages. Among the numerous kudos the Spa has received, it was rated the number two Hotel Spa in the United States by Travel and Leisure Magazine in 2001, Conde Nast Traveler magazine named the Spa number four Resort Spa in North America and the Caribbean in 2002, and the January 1999 issue of American Health for Women magazine, named the Four Seasons Resort Maui "Best Massage". For more information, or to learn about spa, golf and family packages, call: (800) 334 MAUI, or go to www.fourseasons.com.
Among the delights of Wailea are world class golf courses. It is understandable why this is such a popular destination for golfers when you see how Mother Nature played a role in making the design of the courses such a visual delight. We arranged for a lesson with Rusty, the head pro at the Blue Course, before playing, and felt that our game was significantly improved. For more information about the golf courses of Wailea, call: (888) 328 MAUI or go to www.waileagolf.com
A popular dining spot forty minutes from Wailea is the Hali'imaile General Store which serves eclectic American food with Asian overtones. Beverly Gannon, the owner, was a caterer for some of the most famous show business celebrities before she decided to open her own restaurant nineteen years ago. Since then, Ms. Gannon has received wide acclaim for her unusual and tasty dishes. We had a wonderful dinner and especially enjoyed the wasabi pea crusted goat cheese salad, and the special of the day, baked opakapaka (which was a real treat as this fish is not usually available). As we were leaving the restaurant, we walked outside to a "moonbow", a phenomenon indigenous to the area - in which the glow of the moon forms an arc in the sky! You can visit their website at: www.halimailegeneralstore.com.
After leaving Wailea, we headed to Hana, an area which is much different in climate and topography. It is lusher than the rest of Maui as it gets considerably more rainfall. On the way, we took the famous Road to Hana, a thirty-five mile winding road with scenic views of the rainforest, ocean and waterfalls. We stayed at the Hana Maui, a small, secluded property with cottage style accommodations, known for its friendly staff and superb restaurant. Our cottage had an ocean view, and a hot tub installed on our porch. There are no outside interruptions such as television, radio or newspapers, which fosters the ideal of togetherness. The meals were excellent with a blend of Pacific Rim and American flavors. We especially enjoyed the Ahi Tuna for dinner, and their "healthy" breakfast of homemade granola and yogurt. Regrettably, our stay in Hana was short, and we did not have the time to go horseback riding along the beach, or to visit the Haleakala National Park where you can see the Seven Sacred Pools, a major attraction of the area. For reservations to stay or dine at the Hotel Hana Maui, you can call: (800) 321 HANA, or visit their website at www.hotelhanamaui.com.
Our final destination in Maui was Ka'anapali Beach. On our way, we stopped at the Aquarium which has one of the largest displays of fish and water life in the world. It is well worth the visit. Their website is: www.mauioceancenter.com
The Westin Maui in Ka'anapali Beach is an ideal place for both families and couples. Our suite had a fabulous view of the extraordinary landscape of this Resort featuring waterfalls, pools and lagoons. The fish in the lagoons and the exotic birds on the premises, add to the illusion of a tropical fantasyland. There are many activities in which to partake, from swimming in the beautiful pools equipped with waterslides, to enrolling in snorkeling or scuba diving classes, just to name a few. Uno Restaurant at poolside provides for convenient casual dining.
A visit to the town of Lahaina is recommended. The narrow streets are lined with gourmet cafes and restaurants, art galleries, T-shirt boutiques and fashionable shops. A main attraction is the Maui Theatre, where one can watch the Ulalena Show. The history of Hawaii is presented through interpretive dance, music and song; and the costumes, lighting and stage design, along with the acrobatic feats of the performers, make this a feast for the senses.
Maui has all the elements that make a vacation exciting - sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, hiking, outdoor sports, helicopter adventures, just to name a few.
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