04 JAN 2017: My husband William and I spent our 35th wedding anniversary on Maui. This wasn’t our first trip and it certainly won’t be the last to this Hawaiian slice of paradise that is repeatedly voted “Best Island in the World” by readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. Maui inhabitants are justifiably proud of their island. You will often here them brag, “Maui No Ka ‘Oi,” (Maui is the best.) Who can argue?

All prices approximated in US dollars.


Breakfast of Champions

Every January, the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort hosts the Tournament of Champions, the first PGA event of the year. Whether or not you decide to tackle the course, you should certainly head to the Plantation House 19th hole clubhouse for “Six Degrees of Benediction.” Choose from classic eggs Benedict, with salmon lox and caper Hollandaise, on crab cakes with red pepper aioli, with seared tuna and wasabi, with sausage or grilled Maui veggies.

Let’s Do Lunch at Matteo’s Osteria

Chef Matteo Mistura has created an unpretentious Italian eatery with terrific food and service. Consider The Perfect Lunch: for $21 you choose from three starters, a small pizza or pasta dish and a glass of wine. His Super Food salad with kale, cabbage, sprouts, quinoa, carrots and seeds with a lemon/mustard/honey dressing is guaranteed to energize.

Kahuna of the Kitchen

Just up the hill from the Cannery Mall in Lahaina, Star Noodle has a casual vibe but the Asian food is seriously delicious. Garlic noodles and Pad Thai top my list of favourites. And be sure to ask about the “cocktail of the day” or experiment at the sake bar. They do take-out.

Take the Kaanapali Trolley

Home to several world-class hotels, condominiums and vacation club resorts, a beachfront shopping complex, 36 holes of championship golf and what has been called “the best beach in America,” there’s probably something to suit every one at Kaanapali.

Incidentally, Kaanapali, once the playground of Hawaiian royalty, was the first planned resort community in Hawaii. They got a lot of things right. You can stroll along a beach path from one property to another and over to Whaler’s Village for some retail therapy and plenty of fine dining choices. Or hop on the free trolley that goes to the various hotels, Whaler’s Village and into Lahaina.

Cliff Divers and Hula Lessons

Get a seat just before sunset at the Cliff Dive Bar on the grounds of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. Order a Black Rock lager and enjoy the traditional cliff diving ceremony in honour of Maui’s Chief Kahekili who took this leap many moons ago. You might pick up a few moves from the hula dancer too.

Sunset at the Banyan Tree

For a wonderful meal that’s a great deal, head to The Banyan Tree at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. The Sunset Experience Menu, $65, includes a glass of bubbles and chef’s amuse bouche, appetizer, main and dessert. Garden-to-glass cocktails venture far beyond your basic mai tai.

Pau Hana at Luana

In Hawaii, the end of each day is celebrated with a pau hana, a time after work reserved for relaxing and socializing, typically with a cocktail.  The Fairmont Kea Lani’s lobby bar, called Luana, offers a nightly Happy Hour with 50% off select tropical cocktails from 4 to 7 p.m. After 8 p.m. select bottles of wine are half price.

Aloha Wear

The sight of breaching whales has been known to stop traffic on the road between Wailea and the old whaling town of Lahaina. Head to Hilo Hattie’s for the most flamboyant Aloha shirt you can find. This Hawaiian emporium is your one-stop shopping spot for aloha souvenirs, including chocolate covered macadamia nuts and island coffee.


Heavenly Spa

From the folks who gave us The Heavenly Bed, Kaanapali’s The Westin Maui Resort & Spa boasts the world’s first Heavenly Spa by Westin. Try their Pamper Me in Paradise body ritual: Your journey begins with a full body island sugar cane exfoliation. Next, you are enveloped in a deeply hydrating wrap with passionfruit and pineapple while your face is gently cleansed and lightly moisturized. Your treatment concludes with a relaxing scalp massage. Heavenly!

Your Home Sweet Hawaiian Home

Montage Kapalua Bay offers 50 luxe residential oceanfront suites ranging from one to four bedrooms. It’s perfect for a family holiday with all the comforts of home including gourmet kitchens, laundry facilities and huge screened-in lanais. If you’d rather not cook, the Montage’s Cane & Canoe restaurant serves modern Hawaiian cuisine with terrific service.

Drums of the Pacific

For a truly Hawaiian evening, head to the Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali ($115 per adult). The all-inclusive show includes a welcome lei, open bar and generous buffet with island favourites such as Kalua pork, chicken, grilled fish, lomi lomi salmon, ahi poke (marinated raw tuna), taro, salads and desserts.  Following the ceremonial lighting of the torches, you will be entertained by talented dancers and musicians. Don’t be shy about stepping up onto the stage for the hula lesson—much more difficult than it looks.

Dinner in a Canoe?

Roy Yamaguchi is one of Hawaii’s most famous chefs. At Roy’s Kaanapali, located in the Kaanapali Golf clubhouse, try Roy’s Dim Sum Canoe for Two containing pork and shrimp lumpia, baby back ribs, ahi poke, shrimp sticks and chicken potstickers. Leave room for the signature Melting Hot Dark Chocolate Soufflé.

Indulge at Kea Lani

Named Top Spa in Hawaii by Travel + Leisure magazine, the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui offers energizing spa treatments that utilize the latest spa technology and are inspired by Hawaii. I recently tried the Wave Motion Massage during which a unique treatment table moves with the soft, rhythmic motions of the therapist, creating a deeply relaxing escape. You almost feel like you are floating on water as you lie on this revolutionary table that tilts, rotates and rocks to create a weightless sensation. The table’s three-dimensional movements allow therapists to use joint-release techniques and stretch clients’ muscles more effectively. Great for easing the golf muscles. Not recommended for those who suffer from motion sickness. In addition to a full range of treatments, the Spa also offers Maui rain showers and a mud bar.

Stellar Sushi

On an island renowned for fresh fish, Japengo restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Maui was voted Best Sushi and Best Pacific Rim Cuisine at the 2015 Aipono Awards. Consider the Lahaina Roll with shrimp tempura and asparagus wrapped in some magical mystery ingredients. You can also have one of the chefs create a roll to your specifications. The dramatic and chic atmosphere complements the cuisine, especially if you snag a table outside on the patio beside the waterfall.

Melting Pot Luck

My favourite time on Maui is around sunset when the sky turns tangerine and magenta, the birds go into a chirping frenzy in the trees, flowers perfume the air and the traditional torch lighting ceremony ushers in an enchanted evening.

There’s no better place to savour the evening than at Fairmont’s poolside Ko restaurant. Run by award-winning chef Tylun Pang, the menu is inspired by Hawaii’s sugarcane era when the cuisines of plantation workers of many nationalities became a sort of Hawaiian melting pot of Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese influences. Not to be missed on the appetizer (pupus) menu is Ahi On the Rock. The sashimi-grade tuna comes to the table with a hot stone so you can sear it to your liking and then dip it in orange/miso sauce.

The variety and quality of fish and seafood on Maui is astounding. Catch of the day is more like catch of the hour. If you haven’t tried monchong, butterfish or opah, this is the place. Save room for the passion fruit crème brûlée. www.fairmont.com


Magical Maui
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Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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