by Steve Orens
by Steve Orens
The sunrise paddle at the Mauna Lani is my favorite experience to recommend to clients. It’s the perfect way to start your day and your vacation. We met our guide bright and early at the Surf Shack to greet the sun on this outrigger journey. As we paddled, our guide shared stories about the Polynesian culture, the importance of the wa’a (canoe), and local traditions of showing gratitude to the sun and sea. Almost every cultural event in Hawaii has become over-commercialized. The Sunrise Paddle is one of the only authentic ways left to gain insight into the traditions of the Polynesian people. After your outrigger experience, you’ll be in the Hawaiian mindset and switched into full vacation mode!
With the pandemic came changes to the breakfast buffet that so many travelers visiting Hawaii have come to expect. Gone are the days of self-service stations with guests sharing the serving spoons with the possibility of cross-contamination. Instead of serving yourself, the attentive staff at the Four Seasons Hualalai doled out the variety of offerings from freshly scrambled eggs to thick-cut Canadian bacon to the open-faced smoked salmon sandwiches and fresh fruit. And if you’re vegan, don’t worry. The vast menu has endless options for you as well. Of all the COVID-19 safety measures implemented in the past year, the self-serve buffet ban is a health measure that we should keep.
While management at the Mauna Lani decided to eliminate the buffet, we didn’t mind. The food was fabulous. Dining at both resorts will be memorable experience for you as well. The chefs at both hotels carefully curate menus with locally sourced ingredients to wow guests at each meal. When you stay at these resorts, indulge, don’t diet. You’ll thank me later for this advice.
The Mauna Lani recently completed a remodel, and with it came the Surf Shack. The Surf Shack is a gathering place between the Great Lawn and the beach. Here, you’ll find the watersports program, cultural activities, family-friendly lawn games, and a food truck. Each morning, I walked down to the Surf Shack to grab a coffee and watch the waves break. At night, you can watch the sunset with a cocktail and live music. It’s the best laid-back hangout to decompress and be on vacation. If you need more activity, hiking trails are nearby, you can take surfing lessons, and the golf is fantastic. And when you’re ready to unwind again, find one of the hammocks for a quick snooze before dinner.
Hawaii is a fantastic choice to celebrate a milestone birthday or special anniversary. I originally planned this trip for 2020 for my wife and I to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary with family; however, the pandemic had other plans for us. Although we celebrated one year late, it was worth the wait.
Just like on the mainland, Hawaii’s service sector struggles with filling job vacancies. Don’t let this stop you from visiting. You will find genuine warmth and hospitality from Hawaiians everywhere you go. My family and I are recharged and ready to take on life after this vacation.
Here are some more of Steve’s tips that he shares with his clients visiting Hawaii.
The pre-clear program allows you to skip lines. It feels like you have a ‘get out of jail free’ card. When you sign up for the program and complete the steps, you receive a wristband to bypass the screening process when you arrive in Hawaii. If you have a COVID-19 vaccination card, you can skip another line and get to baggage claim that much quicker.
By now, you’ve heard the news about the scarcity of rental cars. The lines at the counter are long too. Since I had status with the car rental company, I could skip the line. I make sure to discuss this with my clients when reserving cars for them in Hawaii as well.
You need to make reservations at any of the restaurants on the island. Every establishment is affected by the staff shortage; however, as I mentioned earlier, your servers will treat you with kindness and gracious hospitality.
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