- North America,
- United States
Trip with family to Honolulu and Maui in January 2009.
How to navigate Hawaii's changing vacation-rental landscape
14 Perfect Days in Hawaii
There are some places you can't help but fall in love with at first sight and return to year after year. We've chosen some of the world's most beloved (and touristed) destinations and, with the help of the best travel specialists in the business, have ferreted out their secrets, their treasures, their unmissable experiences. The result is a series of step-by-step trips that will surprise and delight those who've never been to the destination before . . . or who have been a dozen times. Each of our highly detailed itineraries has been vetted and perfected by a Condé Nast Traveler editor, and each can be bought as is with just one phone call. Let the romance begin
Hawaii's Hidden Values
The Aloha State is one of the priciest destinations in the country, but it doesn't have to be if you're armed with our insiders' intelligence. We've scoured the Hawaiian Islands to turn up more than 30 places to stay and 23 places to dine in comfort and style without spending a mint
Napili Kai Beach Resort, Hawaii
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761
Tel: 800 367 5030 (toll-free), Tel: 808 669 6271
Napili Kai's quarter-mile white-sand crescent is arguably the prettiest beach on the island, but some might be put off by the resort's well-preserved '70s plantation-style decor, with lots of rattan, in all 163 rooms. Practical amenities such as a laundry facility (with free detergent) and bath products made from local coconut, ginger, and papaya are a nice touch for the core clients (many of whom are quite wealthy but interested in value) who return year after year with children and grandchildren. Most of the employees have worked here for more than 20 years, which adds to the sense of deep-rooted comfort. The restaurant menu includes fresh, healthy fare, but everybody's favorite is a stack of melt-in-your-mouth macadamia nut–and-banana pancakes with coconut syrup. The Masters of Slack Key concerts also take place here weekly.
Inn at Mama's Fish House, Hawaii
Paia, Hawaii 96779
Tel: 800 860 4852 (toll-free), Tel: 808 579 9764
Everyone has heard about Mama's Fish House restaurant in funky Paia. So it was just a matter of time before the ten idyllic cottages nestled in a coconut grove in Kuau Cove, a small stretch of north shore beach, also became too popular for their own good. Luckily, three new junior suites were added in June 2009 for couples. Families and multiples should book one of the four two-bedroom units, which each have a full kitchen, for $475 per night—a much cheaper option than staying on Maui's west coast. If you can reserve one, that is. (Book as far in advance as possible; Mama's has been referring guests to the nearby Paia Inn because its own accommodations are always sold-out.) Staying here means that you can get room service from Mama's restaurant and are a stone's throw away from adorable Paia town. But the best perk is that there's not a resort in sight—just unobstructed views of the most magnificent windsurfing and surfing waves on Maui.—Cathay Che
Pure Maui, Hawaii
Tel: 866 787 6284 (toll-free), Tel: 808 875 8833
Pure Maui dials you into your destination by prescreening rental villas and your needs and desires, lining up a staff to match. The agency's 25-plus standout properties include the to-die-for '70s party house on a marine preserve, Ahihi Bay Hideaway, and the Kanaha Beach estate in the millionaires' enclave of Spreckelsville. Pure Maui can arrange chefs, massage therapists, mountain biking or hiking tour guides, fishing or dive boat captains, surf instructors, yoga or hula masters—even a life coach (or would that be a vacation coach?). If ordering up your holiday à la carte is too overwhelming, tweak one of the company's fitness, family-friendly, or romantic packages to suit your wants and needs. Once you arrive, the staff acts as your personal concierge and can make changes to your itinerary, in case you'd rather sleep in than take that four-hour waterfall hike. And if there's something you want to try that's not on the list of services (stand-up paddling, perhaps?), Pure Maui will do its best to make it happen. Celebrities love this outfit for its discretion—especially now that paparazzi hide in the bushes in Maui too—but it's also dedicated to taking you off the beaten track. (And the staffers are as ridiculously good-looking as they are qualified.)
Kapalua Gold Villas, Hawaii
Kapalua, Hawaii 96761
Tel: 888 227 6054 (toll-free), Tel: 808 665 5400
Guests at the Gold Villas at Kapalua have access to the same Kapalua community amenities as those staying at the nearby Ritz-Carlton: famous golf courses (where the Mercedes-Benz Championships are held each year over the winter holidays), DT Fleming Beach, the Waihua Spa, Merriman's restaurant, and the Mountain Outpost Adventure Center. Some people might even prefer this to the Ritz-Carlton, since the Gold Villas are multiple-bedroom units with full kitchens, washer/dryer facilities, and a parking garage—plus, they cost less. The Gold Villas are individually owned, but have a high standard of interior design, and include flat-screen TVs, Sub-Zero fridges, granite countertops, sunken spa tubs, and fine bedding. Outdoor balconies with a dining table, grill, and lounge chairs are perfect for friends or families traveling together. The Gold Oceanview Villas have stunning cliff views; book a Gold Golf Villa to stay right off the green.
Hotel Hana-Maui and Honua Spa, Hawaii
Hana, Hawaii 96713
Tel: 800 321 4262 (toll-free), Tel: 808 248 8211
Hana's lush beauty has been protected from overdevelopment by the daunting two-hour drive in or out on the twisty Hana Highway, and aficionados swear it's the last authentic place on Maui. This sprawling luxury ranch takes full advantage of the unspoiled setting: The eight one- and two-bedroom oceanfront Sea Ranch Cottages sit out where the land suddenly drops into the sea. The wooden houses have high, beamed ceilings, an enclosed garden off the modern bathroom, and interiors done up in vintage Hawaiian designs. There are amenities for guests at nearby Hamoa Beach, a pool that overlooks the ocean, and a state-of-the-art spa with open-air treatment rooms. An additional four Maui Bay Cottages sit closer to the main building, with views over Hana Bay or the garden, and for complete privacy, the turn-of-the-century Plantation House has two bedrooms and is a 10-minute walk from the hotel's main building (there's a shuttle service too). Attention, honeymooners: September is an adult-only month.
Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, Hawaii
Kapalua, Hawaii 96761
Tel: 800 241 3333 (toll-free), Tel: 808 669 6200
This 570-room resort reopened in December 2007 after a much-needed Hawaiian make-under. The $180 million renovation added a spa, refreshed the public spaces, and replaced the dated and out-of-place preppy guest-room decor with contemporary furnishings in simple dark wood, muted tropical prints, and some wacky lamps. The Banyan Tree restaurant has also been spruced up, and its menu of Pacific Rim dishes with a molecular-gastronomy twist puts it in the running for the title of Maui's top restaurant. The Ritz-Carlton's location in remote Kapalua—the community beyond Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Napili—is both the worst and best thing about it. (Kapalua is a 45-minute drive from the Kahului Airport, but a mere five minutes from the West Maui Airport, which serves inter-island flights only.) To occupy those who don't want to just lie on the beach, there are two 18-hole golf courses, a historic pineapple plantation, a 10,000-square-foot three-tiered pool (with a 20,000-square-foot sundeck), six tennis courts, and an adventure center with a two-mile-long series of zip lines. Lahaina and Kaanapali are close by, as is the famous surf break of Honolua Bay—not really a swimming spot, but if the surfers are out, it's a prime location for spectators.
Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaii
Kahuku, Hawaii 96731
Tel: 800 203 3650 (toll-free), Tel: 808 293 6000
Ideally located on a five-mile stretch of a secluded North Shore bay, this luxurious 880-acre property has a high hip factor. In addition to being the occasional location for episodes of Lost, the property was the main set of the Fox TV show North Shore in 2004 and 2005. L.A. production crews still haunt the place, trying to catch film footage of local surfers in action (there's a good break just offshore). Each of the 443 rooms and private cottages has an ocean view and minimalist decor in soothing tones of sand and pale green. On-site amenities include the restaurant, Ola, a golf course, a surf school, tennis courts, and the posh Spa Luana, where guests can indulge in pineapple pedicures and macadamia-nut body scrubs. Labor disputes that made Turtle Bay the focus of negative press were finally resolved in July 2006—although the resort is once again in the hot seat over plans for a major expansion.
Waikiki Parc, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Tel: 800 422 0450 (toll-free), Tel: 808 921 7272
Halekulani's little-sister property, this 297-room tower isn't beachfront—although you can quickly reach the sand via footpath—and has no grounds to speak of. What it does have is terrific bang for your buck. The rooms, with their minimalist dark-wood-and-white-fabric decor, are comfortable; the deluxe ocean-vista rooms have balconies with stunning views over the Halekulani to the sea. There's a heated rooftop pool, a fitness center, and access to the Halekulani's spa. The Parc is also home to the much-hyped Nobu Waikiki, an extension of chef Nobu Matsuhisa's sushi empire.