Hawaii – The land of the Kitchy Cool, beach hair, good vibes and I don’t need fries with that.
Stepping off the plane at Kahului airport, the primary airport in Maui, felt like we were in a scene in Top Gun. Warm and dusty air hovered lightly over the tarmac, scaling upwards to envelop us in a soft embrace.
Old buses, puffing out a burnt diesel aroma, were chugging dotting passengers onwards to the arrivals terminal. After navigating the rabbit warren, of dated terminal infrastructure, our baby pram / meets escalator comrade match was top-notch. Elevators don’t exist at this 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 since the 1950s. I was 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 breeze through.
The arrival at the Hilton Village resort however was, for more polite of words, an utter disaster. With the booking all pre-paid, expectation was for a smooth check-in. Additional “compulsory, day rate charge”, early check-in fee and a credit hold of was not the warm Aloha I’d imagined. Apparently the credit hold is, for example, those customers who overspend on their room tab at the on site Louis Vuitton without the credit available. Well I’ll be darned, throw me a Mai Tai with that please.
After a brief taster of Hawaii prices, and a warm sensation of small holes being slowly burnt into our pockets, it was time to play Sherlock and find our room. With one tried baby in tow we lug our suitcases over the cobble paths, without the help of Valet and their friendly price tag, tip me well, smiles.
As it turns out booking through Expedia has now taught us that a “resort view” means mainly “car park” with indeed a very small speckle of pool view in sight. Once torso is wedged over the deck, and neck lurched out for viewing, it is indeed a lush tropical view. It would appear that with our second check-in of the hour, we were not the friendliest punters in the lobby, then again no one is when it’s hot and the staff may as well of been snails. With a few more of those laser holes burnt into our pockets, our upgrade to the Rainbow Tower, the place of real holiday makers, was finalised. We were able to sit back and enjoy our tropical view. 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 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 some favorites such as Ted Baker, Victoria Secret, Lucky Brand Jeans etc. my appetite for quality items was pleasantly satisfied. Tip for travelling Mummas – take the big buggy. We took our Uppa Baby buggy because of its generous under basket, that was thinking!
Swimming at the lagoon was naturally next on the agenda, given we’d been longingly gazing at it while baby napped. There’s nothing like the refreshing sooth of tepid water, sun on your back and golden sands 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 the additional charge I was required to pay before using the chair and sun shade. 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 to friendly tourists, zero to Hilton staff. Winning.
For any holiday destination to be desirable, for me, it is largely dependant on the quality, taste and presentation of food. Here was a real let down of Hawaii, is defintely not concerned about tantalising your taste buds and delighting your food senses by any means. To the exception of this we did venture to the highly recommended Bills, which was, as anticipated, total bliss with its array of delicious platters, incredible cocktails and excellent service. Other than Bills though food in Hawaii is about fulling your belly, and the bigger the plate the better.
For us, with a baby to consider, the challenge of trying to find something substantial with nutrients was indeed a trial. To my disappointment the ABC store on site of the Hilton Village offered little in the range of baby food. Thankfully we were often able to find places selling delicious Poke, raw fish salad, also a favorite 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, thus last-minute we decided on a car and car seat hire. All American size and a whopping $US300 later, we were becoming familiar with Hawaii costs. It had to be done though and was definitely worth seeing beyond Waikiki Beach.
Hawaii is truly a tropical holiday and great place to take a family. It’s an easy get away from New Zealand in a kitchy cool location. There’s relaxation, adventure, shopping and easy infrastructure to get around with your baby in tow. Uber allows you to travel with the baby in your arms, if bringing along a car seat is not for you. Just be sure to save some pennies before you go, as costs can add up quickly – especially with the tipping culture.