Heavenly Hawaii Begins On Hawaiian Airlines & Ends with a Good Vodka Jolting Joe


Aloha, I just returned from two heavenly weeks in the Hawaiian Islands that began and ended with fabulous first class flights on Hawaiian Airlines--the carrier that welcomes you with Aloha, great meals and super service while you fly.  Don't scoff about the great food, after all super Island chef Beverly Gannon creates the cuisine that served in the upfront section and it's yummy. Bev and her husband Joe own two top Maui restaurants, the Hailemaile General Store and Joe's. Both are amazing and a must do when you're on magical Maui. We've flown Hawaiian many times and each time we feel like we're already in the Islands the minute we board.  Flight attendants greet you with the spirit of Aloha or Ohana (welcoming, love), you're offered champagne or juice in a real glass (some airlines now pour beverages in plastic in First Class). Our flight over was a breakfast run and we dined on fresh fruit a nearly perfect omelette with spinach stuffed tomato, crisp bacon and chicken apple sausage, champagne and fresh baked breads.  Other menu choices included a bagel with cream cheese, fresh berries with yogurt and biscottis and coffee. On the return flight we enjoyed a dinner that began with a baby grens salda with a crab stuffed prawn, and a choice of Thai beef kebob with garlic cilantro rice, sauteed duck breast with Hoisin plum sauce and dried fruit couscous or Shiitaki crusted  Mahi Mahi. Dessert was a divine warm chocolate Bundt cake, washed down with super wines. Both flights were on time, smooth as possibly and enjoyable--this from someone who pretty much doesn't like to fly. 

Hawaiian has achieved numerous awards as the top domestic and internatonal airline with the slogan "Hawaii Starts Here." Amenities  include personal video players, free in First with a small charge in coach, priority baggage retrieval in First and online check in. The nearly 75 year old carrier connects the US mainland with Hawaii, American Samoa and Tahiti. Check it out at www.hawaiianair.com.


 Our first stop was the Halekulani Hotel-- an ultra luxury hotel on Waikiki Beach that sits worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of the commercial area, yet steps away.  We've been before and each time is memorable. All rooms have lanais (verandas) and most great views of Diamond Head and the Ocean. The service is seamless, the food in La Mer and Orchid some of the tops and the tiny spa is a paradise of primal pleasures. www.halekulani.com

Next stop the Resort at TurtleBay. The former Hilton is nowa world class property with one of the best restaurants in the Islands, a super beach, pool, spa and fitness center.

From here we flew Hawaiian to Kauai where we stayed in a condo in a area called Kapaa and get this caught up with an old friend whom we hadn't seen in 10 years who just happened to be staying with her husband in a nearby hotel.  Kauai is a quiet, mystical island, lush with tropical flora, nice beaches and a few good places to eat. From here it was on to the Big Island where we bedded down at the incomparable Four Season Hualalai--an amazing resort with s bodacious world class spa, knock down gorgeous rooms and landscaping and superb cuisine and service.  Located on the Kapupuleha-Kona coast, smack sits on a beautiful beach, the hotel provides guests with two hours of free snorkel gear, loaner reef walkers, coffee makers in the room and many other amenities. The Beach Bar,by the way comes to life at sunset with able bodied barkeeps pouring stiff drinks as the large orb sinks into the sea.

We also spent a couple of nights at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa(?). I question the spa since it consisted of a series of albeit lovely treatment rooms sans any amenities save for a dysfunctional steam room and a massive display of spa products. However we did enjoy a glorious couples massage performed on a lanai complete with sweet smelling sea breezes and the sounds of chirping birds. Our penthouse suite was another story. The huge two bedroom affair sports an inviting ocean front wrap around balcony where we sipped our morning coffee and sunset cocktails. The lanai is so close to the sea that we felt like we were on a cruise ship.  We didn’t try the two restaurants but did make it the luau, which while we can’t boast about the food, featured an amazing show and performance by an agile Cirque du Soleil-trained acrobat. www.sheratonkeauhou.com


Alas we had to leave this paradise to head to Hilo, on the windward side of the Island. There we overnighted at the Shipman House, a historic Bed & Bedfast with charming host/owners Barbara and Gary, great morning meal and a large room (with private bath) in which to sleep. And then it was off to marvelous Maui, see photo:

(Photo compliments of Maui Visitors B

We flew in, jumped in a rental car and drove the winding road to Hana-Maui--a lush eden set on the windward side of the Island about 2 hours from the heart of Maui.  The resort has had many incarnations, this one is Passport Resorts, who also run the Post Ranch in northen California and others and know how to operate a deluxe resort. We roomed in a Sea Ranch cottage, a deluxe bungalow smack in front of the open sea, complete with an outdoor Jacuzzi, big beautiful bathroom filled with aromatic spa products (I love the lavendar bath salts). We had a mini fridge stocked with water and sodas, and a coffee maker that went outside the jolt with packages of whole Kona coffee beans and of course a grinder so we could brew rich, strong joe, hmmmm, love this amenity.   We had massages in the pretty little Honua Spa from John, an adept therapist who miraculously rubbed away our aches and pains earned from too many flights and drives. A special oasis of tranquility the spa offers a delightful aromatic steam room, a cold plunge pool and outdoor showers and  We enjoyed room service one night and dined in the restaurant on another. www.hotelhanamaui.com

One of my souvenirs (besides a nifty tan) from the trip was a bottle of Ocean Vodka which is actually made in Maui. Launched in 2006, the intense tasting liquor is distilled from rye and corn and blended with MaHaLo Hawaii Deep Sea™ Water. It is produced by KOYO USA – from 3,000 feet below the surface off the Island of Hawai‘i. There's an Island tradition known as ‘pau hana’ or ‘when work is done' when friends and family  gather to ‘talk story’ and have a snack or a meal and a cocktail and the basis for the creation of this elagant spirit. spirits in the world. What's more, a portion of the profits from the sale of OCEAN Vodka goes to organizations that help to protect and revitalize the ocean's resources. 1-866-77OCEAN (776-2326). www.oceanvodka.comMove over Starbucks, this Joe can kick your ass--Another memento of our trip was a pound of heavenly rich Hilo Coffee Mill dark roast coffee. Guaranteed to jump start your day, the 100 percent pure beans brew an amazing cup of java. This is a coffee lovers drink.  www.hilocoffeemill.com.

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