Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Week in Paradise

On our way!

WARNING: THIS IS A LONG POST. FEEL FREE TO FLEE NOW.

My body is slowly adjusting back to Texas time, but my head is definitely still in Hawaii. I was not ready to come home! I would move there if I had the means to live at the Four Seasons for the rest of my life! Alas, that is not in the budget or the plans.

However, it was definitely fun while it lasted. I am in awe of the time and expense that CBS put into this trip for us. Every single detail from tips to transportation was taken care of and I am now 110% spoiled. Literally, I told my mom that when I get married I'm going to have to plan my wedding around one of these trips because anything I could do for my honeymoon would pale in comparison.

The Hotel:

Growing up, my parents did a wonderful job of taking us places and doing their best to show us as much of the world as possible. I would consider myself fairly well-exposed. However, this was my first time spending an extended amount of time at a hotel of that caliber. I was very impressed.

My favorite things about the Four Seasons Wailea:
  1. The grounds were gorgeous and meticulously well-kept.
  2. It really did seem like everyone that worked there knew your name. You would expect it from the waiters that have your room number, but not everyone. On Tuesday I was waiting for a baby announcement text from Jodi and my phone was dying. I asked the bartender if I could plug it in behind the bar and explained to him why I didn't want it to die. From then on every time a pool boy or bartender passed by me that afternoon they would say "do we have a baby yet, Natalie?". 
  3. The nightly updates delivered to your room that had a schedule of hotel activities the next day and a new spa special for the day. I took advantage of the sunrise beach yoga twice thanks to this.
  4. Live music in the lobby every night.
  5. Little touches like the fact that there are no paper towels anywhere. Every single bathroom from Spago to the pool had trays of washcloths to dry your hands with. 
  6. And far and away my favorite thing about the hotel was the person they had walking around the pool at all times with various goodies. It was usually one girl, and I swear once she made her round with one thing, she went and picked up something else and was back again. We usually saw her about once an hour. Some of the things she passed out: cold aloe vera, push up popsicles, aromatherapy "spritzes", rice crispy treats on a stick, cucumbers for your eyes, chunks of pineapple, cold eucalyptus towels, etc. 




Super grainy photo of the beach yoga.  I'm on the far left with the horrible posture... ha!

The Fun Stuff:

We did all of our planned excursions except for the rainforest hike, which was actually kind of nice since we were able to spend Tuesday at the pool and enjoy all of the above. 

Whale Watching - This was great, but be advised that if you go to Hawaii from December-April you don't really NEED to go on a whale watching cruise... you see them wherever you are. We saw them on the dive boat, from the road to Lahaina, even from our hotel balcony. But I'm still happy that we went. After we spent the morning looking for whales we went snorkeling at a place called Turtle Cove. I was really lucky and happened to be toward the back of our group when a turtle swam right up next to me on the surface to breathe. You aren't allowed to touch them but she* was so close to me that I kept having to swim backwards to avoid headbutting her shell. She and I floated like for probably a good three minutes. I was shocked that she was okay with me being so close, but I found out later that turtles don't have peripheral vision, so she probably didn't even know I was there! It was cool.

*I know it was a she by her tail.  Male turtles have long tails that extend past their feet and hers was short and stumpy. See... you get entertainment and education here at moose & lulu!
Early in the morning on the way out.
Baby and Mama Humpback.
Baby Humpback.
Whale Tail.

Whale flipper. (arm? dorsal fin?)
Our comedian of a guide.

Ziplining - I'm so happy we tried this. It was my mom's favorite thing we did all week. We ziplined Ka'anapali which has eight lines. You do four, have lunch and then do four more. Our guides were hilarious- one was a tiny hawaiian guy named Kevin, but asked the ladies to call him "Brown Sugar" and the other was a more serious guy that spent the majority of the day shaking his head at Brown Sugar's antics. All the lines looked out over the ocean. The same company is building a course on the big island that goes over a waterfall which is definitely on my "must-do" list for the future. We had a helmet with a camera but it wouldn't work, so against all intelligent reasoning, I decided to record the last line while holding my iPhone in my hand. Shockingly, it made it to the other side unscathed:


 After four lines.
Brown Sugar hamming it up.
Weeeee!
 Me with my super cool helmet cam that didn't function.
The Dot nailing her landing.


Helicopter - I did a helicopter tour of Maui when I was five and my mom had just done one a couple years ago, but it's such a great way to see the island so we decided to do it again. They weigh you and then seat you in the helicopter accordingly to ensure even weight distribution. My mom and I got lucky and sat side-by-side in the front where you could see out of the entire front bubble. We flew over to Molokai and saw the longest waterfall in Hawaii that they used for the opening credits of Jurassic Park as well as gorgeous cliffs, surfers, and whales. It was only a 45-minute ride, so after we got back to the hotel we got massages in little huts that looked out over the ocean. 
Ready to go!
 Three whales... two adults and a baby.
Teeny tiny surfers waiting on the next big wave.

A little fishing village on Molokai. If you look to the left side of the picture you can see a cloud of smoke where someone was barbecuing. :)
Waterfalls.



Post-flight pampering. 

Diving - After my pity party over the bends, I got to dive after all! Thanks to my big brother I learned that the main issue is diving before flying, not after. So four of us from our group went out to Molokini on Friday morning and dove an old volcanic crater that is now a reef. 

I'm not going to lie, I freaked out a little at first. I've only done a descent using a line and since I was with much more experienced divers, they didn't use the line. Basically everyone just let the air out of their BCD's (the vest thingies) and started sinking. It's much easier to stop and clear your ears on a line not to mention that I hadn't been on a dive since my certification three years ago. Sooo, I kind of started hyperventilating a bit. I fought all my urges swim to the top and finally calmed myself down to the point that I was able to enjoy it. 

Shortly after I calmed down, my dive buddy Dan swam up to me and was frantically signing with his hand on top of his head. I couldn't remember most of the signs but I remembered that one was for shark... so of course, I start hyperventilating again and am frantically looking behind me to make sure I'm not about to get eaten.  When we surfaced I learned that he was trying to tell me to listen because he could hear whales nearby. Apparently I was a little confused. 

Luckily, he heard them again on the second dive and tried his luck alerting me again. I was ready for it and was able to stop breathing long enough to hear the high pitched singing which was so neat! I later thanked him by kicking him in the face with my fin. Poor Dan.

We ended up seeing three (friendly) sharks- the biggest of which was about five feet long, some eels, and plenty of fish. It was a lot of of fun and I can now cross it off my list.

My dive buddy with Molokini behind us.
 All suited up. And a little nervous.
Right before I hyperventilated. I'm on the far left.
 Kelly & Bob.
I made it down... yay!
 Dan.
Self portrait!

The Food:

My favorite of the trip was probably Gannon's. If you are ever in Maui, I highly recommend it. It has a beautiful view- especially at sunset. I will fully admit that my opinion of the restaurant was completely skewed by the fact that she served family style sides of my three favorites: horseradish mashed potatoes, truffle mac'n'cheese, and amazing risotto. I could have forgone the main course altogether with that delicious, carby trifecta. And I always love seeing a female chef-owner kicking ass and taking names. {Sidenote: Bev Gannon has three restaurants in Maui as well as two cookbooks.}

Spago was also really good (ahi tuna cones are a must!), although several people from the trip got sick the next day. We think it might have been a bad batch of lettuce or something. And on our one off night we went into Lahaina and had amazing deep dish pizza at Lahaina Pizza Company.
 Crab Eggs Benedict at the hotel.
 Gannon's.
Bev Gannon and crew getting dessert for 200 ready. Looked like something you'd see on Top Chef. 

The Goodies:

This trip is a "thank you for your business" trip, and as if putting you up for a week in Maui isn't enough, CBS also takes in upon themselves to leave little gifts in your room every night while you are out to dinner. It's like a vacation combined with Christmas. I'm telling you- these folks don't mess around: 
Maui
The cuff bracelet is gorgeous and I had almost bought that exact bag in a different color after admiring it on one of the women at my sister-in-law's bridal shower. The night they gave us the sunglasses, they delivered just the case with a note that we could go downstairs the next morning and choose the style we wanted. And who doesn't love a little bubbly while on vacation?!  They also gave us a wrap, hat, and beach bag in a matching print which all together were a little much but were definitely cute on their own. My mom and I would giggle whenever we'd see someone at the hotel sporting all three. Here is the only picture I have:
I convinced The Dot to put on everything they had given us throughout the week and let me take a picture. It was pretty funny.

Anyways, all in all, it was an amazing trip. I had a wonderful week and my mom and I make great travel buddies. A great big hug and "THANK YOU" to Bossdad for letting me go in his place! We had a fabulous little girls trip.

If you made it to the end of this, you are probably related to me, but thanks for reading just the same!

1 comment:

The Connaughton's said...

wow.....so jealous! And those goodies.....geezz take me next time!!! Oh and I am not related to you, but still read your whole blog.....now thats a good friend! HAHA