Hawaii – The land of the Kitchy Cool, beach hair, good vibes and an empty wallet.
Stepping off the plane at Kahului airport, the primary airport in Maui, dusty air hovered lightly over the tarmac, scaling upwards to envelop us in a soft welcoming embrace.
Old buses, puffing out a burnt diesel aroma, chugged dotting passengers towards the arrivals terminal. Sporting dark shades of brown with heavily varnished wood and cold textured brick walls plastered everywhere I’m bemused as to why so little has been updated in this terminal since the 1950s. I was clearly still to embrace the land of kitchy cool.
Entering the States as a visitor can be a painful process at customs, if not daunting experience. This time however, thanks to baby, we were directed to the “all other” line and able to happily breeze through.
Our arrival at the Hilton Village Resort however was, for more polite of words, an utter disaster. With the booking all pre-paid, our expectation was for a warm Aloha and smooth check-in. This was not the case. We were welcomed with an additional “compulsory, day rate resort charge”, early check-in fee and a credit hold of over NZ$1000. Apparently the credit hold is for those customers who overspend, for example, on their room tab or at the on site Louis Vuitton store, when they don’t have the money to pay at the end of their stay.
After a brief taster of Hawaii prices, and a warm sensation of small holes being slowly burnt through our pockets as money slowly evaporated into thin air, it was time to play Sherlock and find our room.
With one tried baby in tow, it turned out that booking through Expedia is not as transparent as it seems. In this particular experience “resort view” meant “car park” with indeed a very small speckle of pool view in sight if you lean half yourself over the deck.
Come our second check-in for the hour and we were not the friendliest punters in the lobby. With a quick decision to upgrade, to the Rainbow Tower, we were ready to start our holiday.
Aloha Hawaii. This time our room view was spectacular. People were splashing about on paddle boards while laughing gloriously and soaking up the sun. Palm trees lined the lagoon edge perfectly, with their leaves softly swaying in the gentle afternoon breeze. Kids licked melted ice-cream off their tiny sticky fingers. Couples wandered along in their blissful bubble. Hawaii had turned on its charm. This place was indeed turning out to be a kitchy cool destination.
With luxurious shopping at our door step and my husband’s ongoing allure of positivity for what awaits at the Ala Moana Centre (a smart way to stop me shopping at home) I was bursting to get all my senses immersed into this bubble of lavish consumerism. Ala Moana, the largest open-air shopping centre in the world, is indeed glitzy glam, sexy casual, sophisticated, understated, bliss. With 350 stores, including my favorites, such as Ted Baker, Victoria Secret, Lucky Brand Jeans etc. my appetite for quality items was pleasantly satisfied. Tip for any travelling Mumma though is that you must take the big buggy, the one with the very large basket beneath.
In the afternoon swimming at the lagoon was naturally next on the agenda, given we had been gazing longingly out the window at the sparkling waters, while baby napped. Oh there was nothing like the refreshing feel of tepid water, sun on your back and golden sand between your toes to make you feel that next level of relaxed. After emerging from the dip I placed my towel over an empty deck chair and drapped my pasty body out to soak up the sun, before I could blink the hotel staff kindly came and explained that there was an additional charge required to be paid before I was able to use the chair and sun shade. Well I’ll be. Thank goodness for the generosity of fellow holiday makers, who without blinking, insisted the spare bundle of chairs and sunshades were ours to use as they were leaving. One point to friendly tourists, Zero to looting Hilton staff.
For any holiday destination to be a total thumbs up from me, there needs to be great food. Most places we visited I wouldn’t rave about, but when we went to the highly recommended Bills, I was indeed impressed. As anticipated, the decor and ambience sets you up for a relaxed mood while you await the speedy service of your, highly rated, platters to arrive. The cocktails were enjoyed too, with the smooth flavours of with well thought out ingredients. I would say Bills is definitely worth a visit. Most other places I found were all about fulling your belly, and the bigger the plate the better.
For us, searching out food and places to eat was next level. With a baby to consider, the challenge of trying to find something substantial and nutritious was indeed a trial. To my disappointment the ABC store on site of the Hilton Village offered little in the range of baby food. If you’re travelling with baby I would definitely recommend taking some packs of food. Thankfully we were often able to find places selling delicious Poke, raw fish salad, a favourite of my husbands and something of a trend starting in New Zealand I’ve noticed since returning home.
While spending the majority of vacay at the Hilton Village was easy enough to do it seemed a shame not to explore the Island of Maui. As a last-minute decision to rent a car, for the day and a whopping $US300 later, we were becoming familiar with Hawaii costs. It had to be done though and it was definitely worth seeing beyond Waikiki Beach. Perhaps just think ahead on this one and book in advance.
As a holiday destination Hawaii is somewhere we’ll definitely be returning in the future. It is a great place to vacay with family, both young and old. There is a little something for everyone from relaxing, shopping and adventure if your game. Plus it is so easy to get there with direct flights leaving Auckland frequently. Just be sure to save some pennies before you go, as costs can add up quickly – especially with the tipping culture.