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Travaasa Hana – #HanaTrip via Maui Jungalow

Travaasa Hana

 Many of you know that Hana is one of  my most favorite places in the world, and I absolutely love staying at Travaasa Hana when I go there. The photo above is by Maui Information Guide, taken from my last visit.   I was very excited when my friend Courtney of Maui Jungalow blog agreed to be our guest blogger and share with about her  perspective on her recent  Travaasa Hana visit. Here’s what she says:

Hana, a place w/ no traffic lights and no night life to speak of. A place where people don’t recognize Hollywood celebrities. A place where many go to bed at 8pm and wake up before the roosters. The place at the end of the world, for Maui at least.

In Hana, there used to be one hotel. A hotel at the end of the map. For wayfarers far off the beaten path who wanted a spot of luxury, or realized they had taken too long on the road to Hana and didn’t want to drive all night to get back to their condo or hotel room. Or for those who wanted to soak in the goodness of Hana, encapsulate it in their bones, and wring out all the frenetic rushing around of daily life. For a year I wondered what happened to it. I thought the economic downturn had swallowed it up. No, it re-emerged more stylishly than ever as Travaasa Hana. It is still the only hotel in town.

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Spotted: Jill Mayo madly photographing everything at Travaasa Hana.

Travaasa Hana is not your typical resort wedding cake hotel. There is no sugar rush, but a more gradual sensation of fullness. It vibrates at a gentler frequency, just like the town of Hana .

This is post #3 in the Road to Hana series. If this is your first time reading, you may also want to read post #1 and post #2. Travaasa Hana was one of our major stops on the Road to Hana social media trip. The hotel had invited us to lunch and a tour of their grounds. Disclaimer: The hotel paid for lunch with the hope that we would share some positive social media coverage: instagram pics, tweets, blogging. Valley Isle Excursions provided transportation and a tour guide for the same reason, though the hotel stop was not a normal part of their tour.

Of course we were hungry. The Road to Hana always makes one hungry. All that driving, taking photos, waiting at one lane bridges, taking photos, visiting waterfalls, taking photos, stopping at banana bread and fruit stands, taking photos… get the picture? (my bad)

Travaasa food collage Hana-001

Clockwise from upper left: excerpt from the restaurant menu, ahi salade nicoise, mango noni juice coolers at the spa,sweet potato chips and guacamole from local avocados.

The most surprising thing I noticed on the menu was a Philly Cheesesteak! Someone did order that. It’s a novelty item on Maui . The more expected dishes were locally grown sweet potato fries, fresh caught fish, Maui beef. I think everyone was happy with their meal, but I can only speak for my end of the table. Yes, we took photos.

Hubert, the events manager, was our gracious host and he shared some of the things that had changed, and stayed the same, with new management.

Travaasa Hana is a provocative name. Travaasa comes from the Sanskrit word provaasa (meaning journey) with the added “Tra” for travel to invoke a new meaning: “the journey beyond.” We had a group “ooh” moment.

Travaaasa Hana has a sister hotel in, of all places, Austin, Texas. Roxanne Darling in our group, was the only person who had been to both hotels. Roxanne summed it up this way: “Travaasa is a lifestyle brand not a location brand. Not like a Hilton. Austin and Hana are two different locales reflecting their [respective] local cultures and local design. You would not expect the same experience in Austin as in Hana.”

Copy of road to hana may 7th trip gate

You wouldn’t expect this gate or landscaping at Travaasa Austin.

A lot of renovation had taken place, and is still underway, with about another year left to go. In a lush, moist environment like Hana, exposed to ocean salt in the air, the grounds and building have to be constantly maintained and updated. Or there is the devil to pay.

The hotel is still one of the only places to work in East Maui . It may even be the largest employer, and its economic effects go far into the community. If you live in Hana and don’t work at the hotel, well, you know someone who does. The hotel is involved with Hana nonprofit organizations and was preparing for a fundraising dinner for the Hana Youth Center and Mahele Farms that weekend. The hotel also has rental arrangements with three nonprofits at the town center, with the idea to keep the money in Hana.

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Outdoor shower for the spa building. Notice the bluish green jade vine dangling down and the red ti leaf plant.

Travaasa Hana has a retreat ambience. This means there is no cable, and no TV in the rooms. This is horrifying for some people, but the hotel is intended as a get-away and escape, not a bring-everything-with-you kind of place. It is not without modern technology, however. We practically ran to the numerous outlets to plug in smart phones and enjoyed the wifi in the restaurant, much appreciated after several miles of no coverage. Hubert mentioned that the hotel is debating some policies to maintain the retreat ambience, and darling Roxanne said her specialty is giving “unsolicited free advice” which she proceeded to give. After our animated discussion, we’ll be curious to see what the hotel does.

Travaasa Hana has a split personality. One side of the street has hotel rooms, lobby, the restaurant, spa and other public areas. The beach side of the street has cottages, an infinity pool, and a no children policy for several months out of the year. Children are welcome 365 days a year in hotel rooms and throughout the main side of the hotel, but not in the more private cottage areas, except for a few weeks during spring break, summer and winter. Hubert explained that this is to keep one area of the hotel a retreat environment for most of the year.

 

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The more private “cottage” side of the resort with a large pool.

Occasionally celebrities turn up at Travaasa Hana. They are taut-lipped refugees from other resorts on Maui , using fake names, swaddled in multiple layers of fabric, sunglasses, hats, anything to hide and not be recognized. They are looking for the peace and solitude of Hana, and usually find it since most Hana residents hardly watch TV. After a couple of days, layers of excess clothing and accessories tend to fall away. Though rumor has it that Hana locals can spot a kickboxing champion miles away.

Travaasa Hana is the only resort in Hawaii as of this writing that has an all inclusive resort fee, meaning that one can pay a fixed price to include lodging, meals, and a daily spa treatment. There is even a watsu pool, the only one at a Maui resort, and still uncommon in Hawaii . Watsu, derived from “water shaiatsu” is not a massage, but a playful and soothing water therapy. It’s quite enjoyable, though I’ve not experienced it in Hawaii . Other cultural activities include lei making, throw net fishing and for foodies, Hawaiian salt tasting of salt from Kaupo, West Maui, Molokai and other islands.

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Watsu pool at the hotel’s spa.

 

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Sign ups for numerous cultural offerings and outings.

We took an extensive walk of the grounds and through the spa, where we had to switch to modulated, whispering “spa voices.” The grounds have lots of native, medicinal and flowering plants. I almost laughed to see Hubert extol a noni tree, which is a highly beneficial medicinal tree with odiferous swollen (and super healthy) fruit that makes most people run away in terror. Monique at the spa offered us a noni and mango juice refresher that was surprisingly good. Couldn’t even taste the noni. Hubert said the teens from the Hana Youth Center are making special drinks for their fundraising dinner with fresh squeezed noni juice, tangelo juice, local honey and sparkling water. He asserts it is quite tasty. Well, I’ll try most anything.

After a lovely sojourn, our bus was ready to continue on the Road to Hana, to the area beyond Hana… Hopefully, the next post will be posted relatively soon. It may be another guest post, or back on Maui Jungalow.

Have you stayed at Travaasa Hana or the old Hotel Hana? What did you think? Let us know!

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10 Alternative Things To Do On Maui

 
This list is geared to people who are not typical tourists, and want to see or experience things that may be a bit more alternative.
 
  1. Do nothing. Ignore the glossy activity brochures. Sit on the beach and vegetate. Stare at the ocean. Have lots of time to be, without needing to be anywhere in particular.
 
  1. Go to Mana Foods in Pa’ia. This is the best health food store on the island, and often has better prices than the regular grocery store. Explore the wall of specialty chocolate bars near the entrance to the store.  Aisles are narrow, and you’ll overhear interesting bits of conversation while bumping into people. Linger outside the store and read the bulletin board next to hippies who are playing guitar or drumming.
Mana Food Paia
 
  1. Discover an unusual fruit or vegetable at a local farmer’s market.  Taste it.  Visit Perlita at the Makawao Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 10 am to 2 pm (on Baldwin Avenue ) and try some moringa pods.  Taste a fresh lilikoi or passion fruit.
 
  1. Go somewhere remote and gaze at the stars. It’s hard to do in Kihei or Lahaina, but if you go up to Kula, up the mountain, you may be blessed with clear skies.
 
  1. Watch geckos and other lizards. Rent a place where you’ll hear them chirp at night, and see them running around during the day.
 
  1. Visit Hana, and stay overnight or for a few days. If you can afford it, stay in a nicer cottage. If you have a budget, then Wai’anapanapa State Park has some cabins and plenty of tent spaces.  Lodging is rustic, but the black sand beach and rock formations are spectacular.
 
  1. Go on Kahekili Highway from Wailuku around the north end of the island to Lahaina.  It’s like a mini version of the road to Hana, with a narrow winding road and beautiful views.  There’s also a beautiful outdoor labyrinth in Ka’anapali.
 
  1. Go on a guided hike at Waikamoi Nature Preserve on Haleakala Crater . You’ll see rare native plants and forest.  If you’re lucky, you may see native birds flying overhead. Link to Waikamoi Nature Preserve.
 
  1. Take a yoga or meditation class, or meditate on a labyrinth walk.  There are yoga studios all over the island, as well as meditation centers in Paia and Ulupalakua (links for Paia: www.mauidharma.org and Ulupalakua www.vipassanametta.org) There is a labyrinth walk at the Sacred Garden of Maliko where you can also meditate while walking. (linkwww.sacredgardensmaui.com)
 
  1. If you’re more daring, go to the Sunday drum circle at Little Beach – around sunset. It’s not mentioned in most of the guidebooks, and ahem, many people do not wear clothes (of any kind) although many others will be dressed. There are fire dancers who twirl sticks around sunset, hula hoopers and people doing yoga in the trees. It is like going back to the 60s.  If you go, keep an eye on your valuables. Don’t lock them in your trunk either, since cars often get broken into on Sunday nights. Sometimes it can be a bit rowdy, if there are people who have been drinking too much, even though alcohol is illegal at the beach. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Special thanks to our guest blogger  Courtney Turner for this wonderful post!   Courtney is a Maui resident who blogs about Maui at Maui Jungalow At Maui Jungalow,  she offers perspectives on authentic rural and upcountry Maui life, living in a jungalow, tips and hints for dealing with termites, Maui issues, lizards, bugs, gardening, art, weeds, and tropical life by local residents.
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10 Family-Friendly Things to Do on Maui

 Aloha! Today I am very excited to introduce to you our guest blogger, Sheralyn from “Paradise Found in Maui”.  Sheralyn lives is Canada but her family is a regular visitor of  Maui.  She knows Maui like a local does, and at the same time, she also provides unique perspective on what to do on Maui from a visitors point of view. More about her is on the end of the post, but for now, I present to you her version of “10 Family-Friendly Things To Do On Maui:

On our recent 4-week-long trip to Maui, we traveled all over the island with our 2 little boys, both under the age of five. Here are 10 of my top picks for family fun with little ones.

Surfing Goat Dairy Maui

1) The Surfing Goat Dairy is great fun for all ages. Animal lovers will love their tours of the dairy farm – we checked out their evening chores tour where we all got to not only feed the goats, but milk them too! And then there were the delicious samples of their fresh goat cheeses – they were so delicious that we ended up buying several of them to eat on our trip.

2) The Alii Kula Lavender Farm was something we originally thought the adults would enjoy way more than the kids. But after enjoying a guided tour of their farm, I can safely say that it’s great fun for kids too. Our guide not only told us all about the different plants that they grow there, but gave each of us cuttings of countless different kinds of lavender and other plants with intoxicating scents – everyone ended up with their own “bouquet” of cuttings by the end of the tour. If you’re feeling hungry after your tour, I highly recommend checking out their gift shop where you can sample unique treats such as lavender scones and lavender tea. (Check out Maui Country Farm Tours if you need more info on this farms)
 

Source: amauiblog.com via Liza on Pinterest

 
 

3) The Komoda Bakery in Makawao is a great spot to stop on your way to other Upcountry destinations. They have a delectable assortment of freshly baked goods ranging from buns to sweet treats like cream puffs and coconut turnovers. There’s nothing better than snacking on yummy baked goods to keep little ones happy during the drive to other destinations!

4) Kula Botanical Gardens is a great family friendly stop in Upcountry. Not only is there a lot to see, but it’s easy on the budget since kids under 6 get in free! Our kids had a ball exploring the endless pathways through their garden, saying hello to their Jackson’s Chameleon, and, lucked out by being there at the right time to feed the fish in the koi pond! Tip: Check out the homemade coconut macaroons that they sell in their gift shop – they are truly superb!

Haleakala Crater Maui

5) A drive to the Haleakala Summit can take a while, but as long as the kids are happy (with, say, treats from Komodo Bakery to munch on,) the drive will be totally worth it! And no, you don’t HAVE to drag your kids out of bed for the sunrise – the summit is gorgeous pretty much any time you go, so there’s no need to feel like you’ll be missing out if you go later in the morning! As you drive up to the summit, you can break up the drive by pulling over at the scenic lookouts – most of them have fairly easy trails to the best views and everyone will appreciate the chance to stretch their legs.

6) Iao Valley is another fun spot to visit with kids, especially is they love the fun of exploring new places. Everyone stops at the state park’s botanical gardens to get the great views of the famous Iao Needle. Along the way, you can also stop at Kepaniwai Heritage Park and the Tropical Gardens of Maui.

7) The Maui Ocean Center is a classic stop for anyone with kids. They have a ton of exhibits that will appeal to adults and kids of all ages – if your timing is right, you’ll even get to listen to their marine naturalists speak about their specialties, such as sea turtles or sharks. If your visit overlaps with a mealtime, you can pop by the Reef Cafe for a yummy bite to eat!

8) The Road to Hana is must-do, and lots of stops to break up the driving make it so much easier for little ones. One of the biggest hits with our kids was our stop at the Hana Lava Tube. They loved getting to explore such a unique place, and the cool air inside the lava tube was a welcome break from the heat! The self-guided tour here is another budget-friendly activity since kids 5 and under get in free. (Want the perfect guide for your Road To Hana trip” check TheR2H out)

9) Have you considered taking your kids to a luau? Pretty much all of the luaus give discounts to kids, and some even let them in totally free. There are usually displays and activities to keep everyone having fun from the moment they arrive. With a buffet dinner, even the pickiest eaters a bound to find something they like, and the dessert trays will always be a hit! The luau shows give everyone a taste of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, and at some luaus, guests of all ages are invited up on stage to learn the hula!

Maui Sunset at Poolenale

10) Any list of family-friendly things to do on Maui wouldn’t be complete without including some beach time. Maui beaches are some of the best in the world, and the island has a ton of great beaches to choose from. In South Maui, some of our favourites were Kamaole I, II and III beaches. Another south Maui beach that we really enjoyed was Po’olenalena – there was a lot to see the day we were there – 2 weddings and a gorgeous sunset – we ended up staying until it was almost dark! In the Kaanapali area, Kaanapali Beach is a must-see. In the Kapalua area, D.T. Fleming Beach Park is lots of fun. For a great beach in the north-central area of the island, Baldwin beach is a choice you won’t regret!

 

More About The Blogger:

Paradise Found In MauiSheralyn is the website owner and blogger behind Paradise Found In Maui.  She and I met online and have become good friends.  Everything you need to make planning your Maui vacations a snap is found on that website! Find out the best things to do and see on Maui, where to stay, how to get the best deals, Maui travel tips and more!  Sheralyn’s love for Maui is contagious, and Maui is so lucky to have a visitor like her who exudes aloha spirit like locals do.  Visit her website at http://www.paradise-found-in-maui.com/ and like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/paradisefoundinmaui

 

Buy Back The Beach on Maui

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Pineapple Found on Our Way To Hana

 Pineapple at Keanae on way to Hana

 

Pineapple on the way to Hana

 

Pineapple on the way to Hana

 

This is my entry to the Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes For Moms. Go there for more!

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