Friday, April 4th, 2014, 1:31 pm
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This is a long trip report but my philosophy on trip reports is to write everything on a destination in one shot as opposed to dragging it out into dozens of annoying installments. I’m always open to suggestions though, so sound off in the comments!
It’s not much of a secret that I have a bit of a love affair with the Hawaiian islands.
$87 was the cost for my hotel and airfare on my first trip in 2006. I’ve been back 5 times since.
In this post I’ve included activities and pictures from 5 trips to Maui.
Why go back to the same place so many times? I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many far-flung corners of the world but there’s no place where I’m in as good of a place of mind as Hawaii. The air is fresh, the people friendly, the water warm, the scenery extraordinary, and last but not least as a US state it has nearly all of the creature comforts of being back home. You can really appreciate our wondrous world when in Hawaii.
I’m a big Kauai fan. My wife is a Maui girl. It’s arguments like this that are easy to solve, we go to both! We got back from Kauai and Maui in February, it was our first big trip since Talia was born. Talia was 4.5 months at the start of this trip and Rafi was 2.5 years old.
More on the trip after the jump…
Previous trip reports:
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
–Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
–The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
–Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
–Trip Notes Kauai: Heaven On Earth (2014)
DDF forum threads:
–Hawaii Master Thread: General Questions And Which Island To Visit?
–Big Island Of Hawaii Master Thread
-Kauai Master Thread
–Maui Master Thread
-Oahu Master Thread
It is criminal to go to Hawaii without reading the revealed book for the island you’re going to. I only wish I could get a fun to read book like Maui Revealed for everywhere in the world.
One thing not to worry about in Hawaii is the weather forecast. It’s almost always wrong. It showed rain every day but it never did rain.
We peeled ourselves away from the Grand Hyatt Kauai and flew on Tuesday afternoon on Hawaiian nonstop to Maui. Yudi of Oahu Kosher sent several meals that same day to Maui via Aloha Cargo, so we picked those up from the airport as well.
After stocking up on some provisions from Walmart we drove down to the new Hyatt Andaz in picturesque Wailea.
The entryway is just stunning:
But hang onto your toddlers, like much in this hotel it’s not exactly designed with young kids in mind! Nothing will stop them from jumping right into the water on either side.
The open lobby is equally impressive:
Check-in is done sitting down on the couches pictured above, which is sort of awkward. Personally I’d rather just check-in at a desk.
We received the most wonderfully fragrant leis I’d ever smelled, a really nice way to be welcomed to a stunning property.
We used cash and points (12,500+$150) with a confirmed diamond suite upgrade award to get a suite that normally sells for $1,300/night. With straight points it’s 25,000 points per night, though the cash and points rate qualifies for promotions and suite upgrades. Chase points transfer to Hyatt instantly from cards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold.
Diamond members normally get free breakfast at the Ka’ana Kitchen. They couldn’t get kosher breakfast for us like the Grand Hyatt Kauai and Hyatt Regency Maui do, but they did offer a $50 daily credit in lieu of breakfast, which effectively dropped our rate down to just 12,500 points+$100.
Diamond suite upgrades book into a partial ocean view suite on the first floor. The room decor is modern yet comfortable. The bellman brings reusable water bottles in a beach bag. Twice daily you’ll automatically get fresh pitchers of water delivered fresh to your room, so hang onto those water bottles.
There is a half bathroom on the left when you walk in:
There’s a huge dining room table, perfect for shabbos!
Crib for Talia:
Andaz Suite Living Room:
Like at all Andaz hotels, the minibar is free. They had kosher snacks like Maui Style chips, Popchips, and Kind bars. Plus they came with Virgin’s Cola, which is just delicious. You also get ginger ale, mango-ade, seltzer, and tonic water daily.
The minibar fridge is a joke, definitely request an extra fridge.
You also get half a dozen Starbucks Via coffee packets refilled daily.
Andaz Suite Bedroom:
The bathroom is just awesome:
Unfortunately the hotel’s desire to be modern led to them choosing disastrous balcony furniture. I mean sitting on any of this stuff is pure torture:
To mitigate the horrible furniture design try requesting extra pillows and using those to make it more bearable.
I’m also not sure which part of the ocean you’re supposed to see from the room or even from the patio, but you can imagine it being there I suppose:
There are 3 wings of the hotel. About 8 partial ocean rooms in our Makai wing had access to a semi-private pool. The pool was heated to perfection, just like all of the pools in the hotel. However they are in such a place that sunlight never hits them at any time of day:
Though in general balconies don’t offer much privacy here due to the design:
The pools at the Andaz are just awesome. The hotel really shines here.
I didn’t step foot in the spa, but we had access to 6 outdoor pools. All are heated to perfection, which is really nice especially for a night swim.
1. Our semi-private pool, pictured above.
2. The adult/tranquility pool was accessible right outside our patio, across from our semi-private pool:
3. The zero-entry pool on the beach level. Rafi loved just running in and out of this pool and it’s the best pool for kids in the hotel:
4, 5, 6: The 3 infinity pools that are just stunningly awesome pools. Rafi loved pushing water off the infinity edges of these pools:
The 3rd infinity pool has the sole hot-tub in it. Officially it’s the only 24 hour pool, though nobody is stopping you from using the other pools at night:
In the winter months you can watch whales breaching from the lobby binoculars:
Soak in the Wailea sun:
I mentioned before that the hotel isn’t exactly toddler friendly. The pools are designed to be accessed by stairs. To use a stroller will mean having to use several elevators and winding paths, like the one below aptly nicknamed “The Road to Hana.” At times the pathways were inexplicably closed as well.
If you have kids ages 5-12 you’re in for a treat, the kids camp, Hub 808, is free for kids that age:
Service at the Andaz is just awesome. It’s warm and efficient without the stuffiness/overbearing feeling you get in some S. Regis hotels. Though be prepared to feel short. I’m 5’10” and I’m pretty sure the minimum height requirement to work the lobby must have been 6′ with an average age of 30.
We left a suitcase behind somehow and the hotel called and shipped it on their dime back home to us. Now that’s good service.
There is a free local shuttle available. There are also free laundry machines.
We were able to get a 4pm late checkout by asking for it on the day of departure.
At the pools there are staff that will come over to you to setup a pool chair and bring towels. Or if you prefer you can help yourself to towels, none of the nonsense that many other hotels have that require room numbers or cards to get towels.
Sunscreen is also available for free next to the towels.
All of Wailea and South Maui has wonderful beaches. The beach in front of the Andaz is no exception. And the Andaz Beach Crew will set you up with everything you need from chairs to umbrellas.
The Beach crew also rents equipment like Stand-Up paddle boards, traditional kayaks, peddle kayaks, snorkel gear, boogie boards, etc.
You can rent those items by the hour or you can buy a 5 day unlimited use pass. Unlimited use of 1 ocean equipment item and 2 sets of snorkel gear at a time is $175. Unlimited use of 2 ocean equipment items and 4 sets of snorkel gear at a time is $285. You can choose any 5 days you want during your stay, it doesn’t have to be consecutive.
In general you’ll want to do water activities on Maui as early as possible before the winds pick up in the early afternoon.
There are daily free 30 minute outrigger canoe rides at 7am and 730am. A DDF’er went on one and a whale swam right up to his boat. I had no such luck but if you do want to do that be sure to signup early. Note that you can also go standby and there are often no-shows.
The Beach Crew offers Stand-Up Paddling lessons. A 90 minute private lesson is $140 for one person or $200 for a couple. I had tried to conquer SUPing in Aruba and in Miami in 2012 on my own but was never able to stand up on the board. This time I got smart and hired a professional to show me what I was doing wrong, and indeed I was doing just about everything wrong. It was slightly terrifying at first, but thanks to the beach crew I finally conquered my fears and terrible balancing skills.
I still managed to fall in the water once, but it felt great 😀
The most amazing part were the massive green sea turtles that just come right up next to your board. I’ve seen them while snorkeling before, but to have them just bobbing out of the water next to me was really cool. Whales were all around as well, which just added to the majesty of it all.
The Andaz has more than it’s fair share of Shabbos issues. Luckily they sent an engineer who knew how to fix everything, including:
-Manually unscrewing the sensor on both balcony doors.
-Manually removing the bathroom light motion sensor.
And I taped the light sensor in the fridge and the door lock with cardboard and tape.
I tipped the engineer for his effort in rectifying the issues and he was thrilled and left me his number in case of any other issues.
The hotel has valet parking only and it’s a whopping $30 per night. At least the Andaz doesn’t charge a resort fee. The Mokapu beach parking right next door to the hotel has free parking, though the gates are closed at about 8pm nightly.
They don’t seem to mind if you park overnight, they just leave a note on your car with an emergency contact in case you need to retrieve you car. After parking for a week we had no issues, but don’t come complaining to me if you get towed away or ticketed one night!
Note that you can use the valet parking at the hotel for free as long as it’s not parked there overnight.
If you don’t want to bring food from the mainland you can order meals from Oahu Kosher. Meals can be sent to any island.
Penne with a creamy mushroom sauce was very good. It’s parve but could’ve passed for being dairy.
Sesame Chicken ordered fresh from Oahu Kosher was far better than the stocked frozen version carried by the Grand Hyatt Kauai:
Spaghetti with Marinara, Capers, and Olives:
Sweet and Sour Chicken was excellent:
The French Roast was also very good, much better made fresh than the frozen version:
Beware that grocery store pricing in Hawaii is just crazy:
To avoid sticker shock, shop at Costco or check out Mana Foods in Paia.
When we were in Maui in 2011 we took a sunset picture session on the beach with Wailea Photography. The pictures were stunning and many hang in our house today.
We did it again on this trip but the kids just wouldn’t cooperate, we thought it was a complete disaster. Jonelle from Wailea Photography somehow coaxed an incredible amount of pictures out of our kids and we’re still not sure if we were really at the same photo shoot 😀
At any rate if you mention DansDeals then you’ll also save $50 off the prices listed on her site. This isn’t a paid ad, I just really loved the pictures we got. We’ve taken photo shoots in Buenos Aires and Banff as well and I find that taking a photo shoot from a vacation spot is far better than any other silly souvenir from the trip.
Comparison to other places I’ve stayed:
In 4 previous trips to Maui we stayed in:
-A condo in Kihei rented via VRBO.com
-Twice in the Hyatt Regency Ka’anapali
-The Fairmont Kea Lani Wailea
I was still single and with my parents in the Kihei condo. It was spacious if not dated, but definitely convenient for a large family and the price was right.
The Hyatt Regency is one of the nicest properties in Ka’anapali. It’s a category 5 property costing 20K points or 10K+$125.
The property is a bit dated but it does have a great club and nice pools. The beach that it’s on is fairly marginal and service can range from mediocre to very good.
The Hyatt Regency sure has some cool animals on premises though:
Nice thing about the Hyatt Regency is that they do stock kosher meals. A whole box of 5 corn dogs for example is just $9 and you can eat it in your room or in any restaurant.
Diamonds can also get kosher double wrapped eggs or cheese blintzes for breakfast for free. Even if you’re not staying in the hotel you can go to eat there or get items to go.
The Fairmont Kea Lani is in Wailea and is a fantastic resort. All rooms are suites, which is great for families. In general it’s a better fit for families with young children than the Andaz. There are also free laundry machines at the Kea Lani.
Fairmont Kea Lani Lobby:
Fairmont Kea Lani Suite:
Fairmont Kea Lani Pools:
If you’re in Maui between November and May you simply have to get on a whale watching boat. The only question will be whether to take in the grandeur with your own two eyes or whether to try to take pictures. We brought Rafi and Talia along on this trip-they were both free with Pacific Whale Foundation, whom I can heartily recommend. The full breach happened when I was playing with them of course and not behind the camera lens, but perhaps that was for the best,
Hang up, Kall again?
West Maui Mountain:
-Downtown Lahaina is fun to walk around, especially at night. The Warren and Annabelle’s magic/comedy show in Lahaina is epic. The performers vary, but based on our experience it’s worth every cent. Ask them when exactly the live acts begin and skip the kitschy dinner show.
-The Road to Hana is an epic drive that offers impossibly lush scenery, dozens of waterfalls, black sand beaches, and more. Kids prone to motion sickness may not appreciate the curvy drive cut through the side of the mountain…bring a bag if you’re going to attempt it anyway…
The road cuts through the mountainside:
And there’s no better way to do it than in a convertible:
Start this road early, try to leave your hotel by 7 in the morning so that you have time to make frequent stops to gawk at waterfalls, go on amazing hikes, and make it back so that you’re not driving on the road after dark. A convertible is perfect for this drive. Remember that the point of this drive isn’t to get to Hana, there’s nothing there! So don’t tailgate the car ahead of you and let the car behind you pass so you can drive slow and take in the heavenly scenery.
Three Bears Waterfall, Road to Hana:
It takes a steep first step, but after that you can hike right up and into the stunning 3 bears falls:
Hike up and over to the little known but picturesque Wailua Iki Falls, Road to Hana:
Road to Hana:
Rainbow Trees along the Road to Hana:
Take a detour off the road to Hana on Nahiku road up to the ocean:
Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach, Road to Hana:
Don’t miss this black sand beach which also makes for a nice spot to have a picnic. La Briute meals may not be great, but we warmed some up and had hot meals on the picnic tables here. We brought along some marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese to make it taste better.
Lava tube, Black Sand Beach:
There’s nothing in Hana per se, though there is a great Red Sand Beach.
Just off the path to the Red Sand Beach is this incredible wonder of nature:
Seven Sacred Pools, Road to Hana. The Seven sacred pools are part of Haleakala National Park, so save your receipt to go up to the top of Haleakala for free over the following 3 days.
Infinity pool, Road to Hana
Most people turn back around when they get to the Seven Sacred Pools. Don’t!
The road past the seven sacred pools completing the circle back to Kahului is perhaps even more stunning then the Road to Hana itself. Any regular car can complete the entire loop and it gives you an entirely different perspective with amazing windswept views instead of seeing the same stuff again. The drive does get a bit dicey at times on the loop around, but it’s nothing too bad.
Completing the loop:
In North Maui don’t miss the Dragon’s Teeth:
Nakalele Blowhole, North Maui. The Acid War Zone to Bloehole hike as described in Maui Revealed is also a great hike you can check out.
Olivine Pools, North Maui. A beautiful set of natural pools overlooking the ocean.
The Sliding Sands trail is an incredibly scenic hike to take in Haleakala:
-The Iao Needle is good enough for a picture I suppose, though you don’t need to do it.
-Maui has incredible snorkeling and diving. It’s criminal to not try snorkeling at least once. There are great places to snorkel south of Wailea or at Black Rock by the Sheraton in North Maui. Go early in the morning before the water gets rough and visibility goes down.
-You can also take a snorkeling boatride out to Molokini where the snorkeling is legendary and the visibility and water clarity is incredible. Be sure to go very early in the morning.
-Ferry service and flights are available to Molokai and Lanai. Those islands are said to feel like the Hawaii of old, though I haven’t yet made it out there.
-Jetski, snorkel, dive, kayak, surf, kite-board, parasail, windsurf, you name it, you can do it in the waters off Maui.
-Other activity ideas: ATV, zipline, helicopter tour, hang-gliding (powered and traditional), golf, etc.
-Find a local fruit stand or farmers market and skip the grocery stores. The fruit in Hawaii is just amazing, don’t leave without trying locally grown Maui Gold Pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, mango, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, etc. They just taste so much better in Hawaii and they’re much cheaper at farmers markets. Beware that you can’t bring any fruit home with you besides for Pineapple or Coconut.
Sun setting on paradise:
Catering sure has gone downhill since the Continental days. Back then the kosher meal was from Regal. There was hot corned beef on a challah roll and a half decent breakfast as well:
This time we flew United back to Newark on the 767-400ER with lie-flat seats in business class for 40,000 miles:
The food is now catered by KoshAir, the worst of the worst in kosher catering in the USA in my experience. Dinner was a rock solid slab of shnitzel with frozen corn, frozen fruit, and a frozen apple turnover.
I mean seriously, it’s bad enough that the food is bad, but now you can’t even have it double wrapped for heating? And you serve it rock hard frozen?
While Regal and Borenstein serve Cholov Yisroel meals, KoshAir serves cholov stam which meant this Omelet with cheese went right to the trash:
Not that it mattered. This fritata was parve, but completely inedible:
Unfortunately no bulkheads were available and that means really small footwell cutouts:
Too small of a footwell to sleep comfortably for even someone of average height:
It didn’t help that my seat’s controls were broken and it had to be manually made into a bed by the flight attendant and then manually reversed.
In Newark we ordered food from New Kosher Special. They have free delivery to the airport with a minimum order of $40.
The Beef Dumplings were delicious:
Ribs were too sweet for my taste buds:
A yummy eggroll:
The TSA decided that the Hot & Sour soup didn’t pose a threat apparently:
The best dish they make is the Sesame Chicken, it’s excellent:
While officially they don’t let you bring outside food into the club, this is when it helps to travel with kids and be able to use the kids room in the club:
Hawaiian flies Pineapples free! Maui Gold Pineapples are juicy, moist, and delicious. I bought a box of 6 for $39.99 from the airport, already boxed and ready to make the journey back to Cleveland with us! It helped us ween off Hawaii over the next couple weeks: