Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Stay at the St Regis in Princeville, Kauai

My husband and I stayed at the St Regis in Princeville on Kauai this past January and it makes my list of highly recommended hotels. We had gone with a group of my husband's co-workers to Maui and when that trip ended we island hopped. This was our first time on Kauai and we unquestionably have a new favorite Hawaiian island.

Upon arriving at the hotel, we were greeted with kukui nut leis, a lei or necklace made from a local nut instead of the usual flowers. We checked in and headed to our junior suite which comes with butler service. The room had an understated elegance that acknowledged the amazing oceanfront view, the picture on the left was taken from the window. We indulged in a light dinner of Champagne and sushi at the bar before calling it a night.

The next day started with coffee service delivered by our butler, something I could easily get used to enjoying regularly and did every day of that trip. We had a rental car so we headed out right after our coffee to explore the north shore. We spent most of the day beach hopping but we also toured the Lighthouse at Kilauea Point, a nature preserve, where we watched a mother whale and her calves playing by the little island off the point and saw some crazily colored birds. I recommend the nearby Lighthouse Bistro for lunch or dinner.

A top priority for us was to make sure we made it to the sunset Champagne sabering that the sommelier performs at the St Regis. Hotel guests swarm the bar and terrace for this nightly ritual. We were happy to participate before our dinner at the Kaua'i Grill, the hotel's full service steak and seafood house where we enjoyed a great meal, excellent service and a nice bottle of red Burgundy wine.

We had a thoroughly relaxing experience at the Halele'a Spa at the The St Regis. I wasn't inspired to buy any products this time but I was inspired to take a big nap out by the pool. The bar outside had some great little fried snacks and rosé  wine by the glass. We watched beautiful bridal photos being taken and found many interesting fellow travelers to share stories with out in the hotel's beach side paradise.

One day, we drove around the island to Waimea State Park which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the scenic overlooks were amazing and the photo opportunities just kept coming. We saw the Wailua Falls, also known as the Fantasy Island waterfalls from the opening segment of the old television show, along the way along with many other natural wonders.

Another favorite stop was at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. We saw the rows of coffee plants loaded with yellow coffee beans out in the fields, a coffee plantation looks a lot like a vineyard. We taste-tested all their varieties and purchased a few bags of our favorites.

Kauai has hordes of chickens running wild all over the island yet chicken is rarely on the menu. There are numerous restaurants and roadside stands featuring local and organic menus, it is definitely a place to enjoy top quality seafood. We found that it was very easy to eat relatively cheaply for breakfast and lunch at small mom and pop restaurants and get some amazingly fresh food. Our evening meals were for seeking out some of the best restaurants in the area, we particularly loved the Hanalei Dolphin restaurant for the unique sushi offerings. We also enjoyed Tiki Iniki, a kitschy Hawaiian restaurant and tiki bar with classic menu items made with a Hawaiian twist where we were waited on by proprietress Michele Rundgren, Todd's super fun wife for all you music fans out there.

The hotel was beautiful, the beach and view were spectacular, the service was impeccable, the pools were relaxing, the spa was pleasant and the food was good. It would be easy to spend all your time at the hotel were it not for all the nearby natural beauty waiting for you off the grounds. An added bonus we enjoyed on one afternoon was a few hours of raging waves where the magnificence of both man and nature was showcased with an amazing surfing display by some locals.

We truly enjoyed our stay and look forward to returning soon. The St Regis in Princeville, Kauai is one of my recommended hotels.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Maui

I had the opportunity to stay at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua on the Hawaiian island of Maui with my husband this past January. The grounds were absolutely stunning with an expansive view of the ocean, we saw whales almost every day while we enjoyed our morning coffee. Our room was comfortable yet elegant. This was not our first time in Maui but it was our first time at this resort, it is definitely the one to beat right now for us on this Island.

We had the opportunity to enjoy a fantastic dinner on site at The Banyon Tree with excellent and entertaining service from Robert. We were pleased to eat again at Merriman's located nearby; they have a diverse wine list and fantastic local seafood. Both get crowded so make your reservation in advance. We also love Sensei for fresh sushi though we did not have the opportunity to enjoy it on this trip.

The hotel spa featured private open air couples massage rooms where we indulged in the lomilomi massage with coco butter which was incredibly relaxing as expected. I love spa services but I dislike when they push products for purchase, they did not do that here. No one can ever convince me to buy spa products anywhere, I just can't be sold, I won't do it. I am all about the services and less about the products. I literally asked my therapist if I could purchase this product in the middle of my massage, so you know it is amazing. It has the most intense cocoa aroma that I have ever smelled in a coco butter product of any kind; it is also very rich and incredibly moisturizing.

I was traveling with my husband on his company's incentive trip so we also enjoyed a fantastic luau at the hotel with our group. I also saw a few large conference rooms and enjoyed a private breakfast buffet that was set up prior to a morning meeting. This was a group of almost 300 people and it was a dream destination. Many simply stayed on-site to enjoy the resort's amenities while some rented cars and explored the entire Island. I recommend that everyone take the drive down the Hana Highway at least once when they visit Maui, the beautiful views and beaches are worth the harrowing ride.

An amazing location surrounded with sweeping beach views and beautiful pools along with fantastic food and wine plus an amazing spa make the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua a recommended vacation destination.