~Guest Post by Flynn~
Maui – Aloha!
Our first stop in Maui was the Ritz Carlton Kapalua Resort, another American Express Platinum card-booked hotel. If you haven’t already, I would read Brian’s post about the American Express Platinum card and consider applying if you’re a frequent traveler. We did just that for this honeymoon and it (with the $450 annual fee) has more than paid for itself.
The Ritz was $299 per night using the American Express Platinum Fine Hotels and Resorts rate, which included breakfast, a room category upgrade, and $100 credit. This hotel is quite secluded in the north part of Maui and is a golfer’s paradise. There are two courses on the property, the Plantation and the Bay course. My husband played the Plantation course where the Hyundai Tournament of Champions was played less than two weeks earlier for you golf fans. If you play after 1:00 p.m. during twilight hours, greens fees are much discounted, as well as if you’re a Ritz guest. The Ritz breakfast buffet was excellent and included daily with the American Express rate. There are a few fitness classes that are free; others are $20, which I did not think was worth the extra money.
The Ritz is on a small beach that is five minutes away by foot or they have a golf cart to take you down to it. All beaches in Hawaii are public, but the hotels can still bring down towels and chairs to guests. The pool scene at the Ritz was great, three pools with at least two Jacuzzis dotted around the edges, fresh water available, sunscreen, and aloe at all pool locations. As a tip, I would not get caught paying $30 for valet when you can pay half that to self park the rental car just a 3-5 minute walk away from the property.
Our next hotel stop was the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort in Wailea, the resort area of Maui that is south of Kapalua. We were there for two nights with an American Express Platinum rate and were upgraded to an ocean view suite. All rooms at the Fairmont are suites or villas; we had a spacious suite with a honeymoon dessert waiting for us in our room. Again an amazing breakfast buffet that got pretty crowded in the early hours but was filling and free! There are a few restaurants in the hotel that are very expensive, but we learned to fill up on a late breakfast and then eat dinner in the lobby lounge. This dining option has a reverse happy hour that begins at 9:00 p.m. making drinks $8 and flatbread pizzas $9. Normally they are twice that during normal hours! Our first night we left the property and ate at Sansei Sushi, recommended by the locals. This place at 10:00 p.m. has 50% off all sushi and free karaoke. We had great sushi, sake, and laughed watching locals sing during our dinner.
Our last property was in Hana at the end of the famous Road to Hana. We left Wailea and the Fairmont after noon to do the drive. This was ideal as there were no more tour buses on the road and we could take our time on the winding route. We used the travel book Maui Revealed and it became our bible, especially for Hana. I would splurge and buy the book’s app for $8 because if you see a site you like you click directions and then your iPhone will direct you there. Along the Road to Hana I would definitely go find the Venus pools and do the Pipiwai hike to Waimoku Falls (4 miles RT) in the Haleakala National Park ($10 per car).
We probably took a leisurely 2-3 hours to get to Hana by car from Wailea. There we stayed at Travaasa Hana, the main large property in Hana. This last stop was nothing like our earlier stays and the property itself was a big disappointment. The town of Hana and the people are amazing, but the rate and service at this properly made it a complete rip off. The hotel offers lodging only rates or all inclusive rates. We were told that because the meals are so outrageously priced to do the all-inclusive rate, which includes three meals and $125 credit per person per day. We used our credit on a massage that paid for most of it and the meals were excellent, but totally overpriced. A glass of juice was $5-$7 dollars and a few slices of pineapple was $7. Main dinner entrees of fish and steak were $42-48 per plate.
The main problem was the room quality for the price paid, the bed was uncomfortable, the décor was dated, the outlets, toilet, and light were broken. When we asked to move they said we had to pay more so we just stayed in our garden view suite because this was already the most expensive room at $1100 per night. I only write this to save your cost in Hana. Take that money and stay three nights at the St Regis in Princeville for the same cost with your butler. We also joined iPrefer, the boutique hotel loyalty program and it didn’t get us anything. I wouldn’t recommend either in the future. If you do go to Hana there is a great market called Hana Fresh, there is local yoga at the Hana School and a Thai place right next to the school. Do the drive, rent a condo and see those places. Do not stay at Travaasa Hana; you are throwing away your money!
I hope this lengthy post helps you book a trip to Hawaii. As we planned our honeymoon for 8 months and spoke to many past travelers, we wanted to share our intel and experience. We had an amazing time and loved both islands.
Flynn’s Hawaii Honeymoon Tips: Fly through Oakland en route to Hawaii, get an American Express Platinum card if you are a frequent traveler, take advantage of hotel loyalty programs, if you just got married let them know because there are benefits abound, always ask the local staff where to eat over paying an arm and a leg at the hotel dining options, get the Maui Revealed app for your phone, and stay at the St. Regis if you can in Kauai!!!