Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Mauna Lani Resort, My Idea of Paradise in Hawaii

As a Californian, we are fortunate to be just a few hours plane ride away from the magic that is Hawaii. I have been lucky to have been to Maui, Oahu. Kauai, and Hawaii or the Big Island, as it is known. Each has it's charms and unique beauty. The Big Island, however has become our very  favorite. We love the green sea turtles, unspoiled beaches, wide open valleys, volcanos, rain forests and waterfalls. 

As the Big Island is more spread out than some of the other islands, it feels less crowded. We really enjoy the feeling of being far away from it all and especially like the Mauna Lani a Hawaiian resort that has a laid-back vibe and loads of natural beauty.

The resort's beaches are pretty unmatched as resorts go.

The hotel faces a fantastic reef protected area to swim, paddle board, snorkel or watch turtles bask in the morning and evening. This area is my personal favorite with palm trees and hammocks and copious covered lounges that are always easy to get. I could spend my whole time at the resort here just staring off into the ocean.

Many mornings turtles were hanging out in the waves with us.

Hawaii has rules about going too near these protected creatures and people usually watch from a fair distance and do not try to touch them. However, you may find one body surfing with you as we did one morning and it was amazing!!

 To the left of this expansive beachfront are historic Hawaiian fish ponds which you can cross on little footbridges to another lovely cove beach and amazing snorkeling spot. 

The historic ponds. It's a small, but gorgeous walk through this protected area.

You can see some of the authentic huts.

One of the footpaths across the ponds to the farther beach.

You can spy eels and other fish in the ponds. Behind the ponds, there are condos for those who want a larger place called the Islands at Mauna Lani. 

Boards of all kinds are available at both beaches and they also run a dive operation from this beach.

My kids enjoyed paddle boarding here as well and my husband has used the dive operation for a couple of dive trips and been very happy.

A little cafe is excellent and convenient for lunch or a drink.

Snorkeling at this other beach we saw box fish, tangs, eels, and the day we were there a manta-ray was out too.( More on seeing those on my next post!)

There is also a Popoki ( Hawaiian stray cat) waiting patiently for any dropped food.

My kids were loving him. These little guys can be found all over the islands.

The area that fronts the historic ponds has some rustic beaches which are rarely used, but feel remote and wonderfully far from everything else.

They were stunning.

I can just close my eyes and be there again. (Wishing!) And no you should not be checking your phone here. The only checking you need do is check out. You know. Bring some good books!

To the right of the resort there is another undeveloped area with a path that takes you to the Fairmont Orchid if you are willing to trek there. 

There's also a black sand beach, tide pools and masses of beautiful coral strewn everywhere.

On our first morning we let our boys sleep in and grabbed some outstanding Kona coffee at their coffee bar and took a walk on this path. Great tide pooling and many joggers on this path as well. 

Cruiser bikes are available in the front of the resort to get to the neighboring Orchid for lunch or the cute Shops at Mauna Lani. The Shops have a great grocery, some adorable shops, a new local coffee company and a Tommy Bahama, which has a restaurant and a outdoor terrace for dinner.

If you can't bike or walk, and don't want to drive, there is a little shuttle that runs between the hotels and the shops.

There is excellent buffet for breakfast and we did a package that included 2 buffets each day. So worth doing. It was lovely to sit over this lawn and relax while we watched little mongoose families scurry by and so many beautiful birds.  I loved beginning the day here. The hotel also has a Mountain Thunder Coffee Company which sells breakfast and more throughout the day. My boys like playing chess in there and we also caught a few of the World Cup games as well.

The gorgeous and huge pool. They also have three other hot pools and one has little alternating fountains for small ones to frolic in.

At 3:30 each day poolside, they distribute the most amazing fruit popsicles! Needless to say, my guys figured out how to be there at that exact time, most days!

Max and I enjoyed the Ocean Bar and Grill at the pool which is newly redone. It has the ideal spot to for happy hour with a sunset.

Mojito with a flower anyone?

The kids liked the food there too and it was a casual and more affordable alternative for dinner, especially at Happy Hour, 4-7.

The Canoe House is the Mauna Lani's fancy dining and people come to the resort just for dinner here. There's a good live band nightly and every table has a perfect spot to watch the sunset.

The torch lighter with his conch shell. He runs about nightly lighting all the torches. Kids follow!

They had a Popoki too.

We usually do the Canoe House the last night of our stay.

After dinner, evening walks along the resorts' beaches were one of the highlights of staying here.

The sunsets never fail to wow. We are always trying to see the green flash!

Some turtle friends are still enjoying the beach at night!

...And the hammocks were pretty cool too.

One night we came back to the room to find this on out pillow...

Some middle schooler's idea of a joke. ;) Just had to keep it.

Of course the chocolates on our pillows were taken too! (I don't think I was fast enough to ever get one..I heard they were gourmet, according to my chocolate connoisseurs. Lol.)

The lobby from above. Nightly here there is authentic Hawaiian music and hula! Also a wonderful cultural center is part of the hotel and gives ukelele lessons, art and other classes in all things Hawaiian. 

 I thought I'd let some of the rest of the photos speak for themselves.

There's just a lot to love about the Mauna Lani.

If you want a real Hawaii culture, with luxury, nature and relaxation it's the place.

We are thinking next time we may try renting one of the condos, or perhaps a home. My boys are getting adult size pretty fast here.

I do like very much that the Mauna Lani welcomes families with older kids to share their spacious rooms unlike another very famous resort which I won't name, that we have been to many times. If you have kids over 12, this other resort wanted you to have 2 rooms, which is ridiculous. At their prices that was not going to happen, so we went with the Mauna Lani and it really did exceed expectations in service, food, rooms and location.

 The Mauna Lani is not the kind of resort where you have to worry about dressing up or what kind of beach bag you have. No Kardashians will make an appearance here. Yet it's luxury without pretense. It's a gem and  why so many families have been going for generations.

We traveled at the end of June and they said that was a quieter month. Highly recommend that time. We have also been there in April for Easter (a fun bunny hunt when my kids were small) and in July. All as relaxed. On July 4th, the resort hosts a special releasing of their baby turtles and also a big party. After, nearby there is a huge rubber ducky race. Everyone says that is also a fun time, but busier time to go as well.

I'm wondering who out there has other favorite places to stay on the Big Island? 

I have one more post to come with all some super spots to dine and other cool activities to do around the island!


This trip was not a sponsored stay and all expenses and opinions are my own, as usual!

Monday, August 11, 2014

This Last Week of Summer & Other Chat

Happy Monday friends. Just checking in with you all... How's your summer? Still savoring?

Well, we have officially a week left if you go by the school calendar! That's not much. What the heck happened to starting after Labor Day?

We did a little day trip to Carmel yesterday. My boys spent some time building sand sculptures.

I spent some time holding the blanket down, and reading. Twas so nice.

We had lunch at my favorite restaurant, Casanova.

I highly recommend a stop there for the Soup de Jour and homemade bread and butter. It's especially cozy and warming after a foggy beach walk.

Yesterday cream of artichoke with spinach was the soup. That with fresh olive bread was AAAMAZING!!

Did I ever mention they make the soup in small batches and bring a copper pot out and ladle it into your bowl??? Where else do you get that? I know I've gushed about this place before.

Loads of charm at Casanova.
Don't be intimidated by it's small size from the front. It's a veritable maze of quaint rooms and patios behind the front cottage. It's easy to pop in for lunch. Dinner may need a reservation.

We also have been trying to enjoy as many dinners at home alfresco.

Eating outside always feels like a special night.

 The boys love it too and stay a little longer at the table which we like. We just discovered a new favorite wine, Cuvee Los Gatos, from our hometown winery, Testarossa. The 2011 Chardonnay is wonderful and try it if you can. It can be bought at the winery, but our local Lunardi's store has it currently. It's around $24. We are so spoiled by good wines that we rarely pay that much, but this is worth it.

The tomatoes have liked the unusually hot summer we have been having.

I can't say the same!! I miss our 80s and high 70s with cool nights.

We did get some summer rain which was so nice and unusual.
I'm really hoping for some real weather this fall and winter.  We barely had any last year.

On the bright side we swam so much this summer. Not a day went by that my kids didn't use the pool.

They will kill me for using this, but I am anyway. :D

My oldest Jackson is going to be a junior next week. Unbelievable. Hard to comprehend.
Seems like just the other day I put this photo in a frame from a trip to Pt Reyes.

Looking at the sizes of them I guess it was a few years ago actually.

How is it they grow so much in that 12-15 year old span? Your not noticing it and then you see a photo, and your baby has become Lurch!


On a lighter note, still trying to keep the Hawaii vibe from vacation alive in the home.

Hawaii has a lot of these vintage postcards. I tuck them in mirrors and on pinboards.

I'm going to try to have my guide to my Big Island favorites out this Thursday. I don't know what happened to my blogging time this summer, but it's been weekly at best and once school starts I'll have more time for more posts.

Keeping it real though, a lot just didn't happen this summer.

You know all those plans to clean out closets, pantries, and garages? It never got done and it sure isn't this last week.  I have however threatened my 12 year old hoarder with no new school supplies until he purges his room and desk!!

The pets and the man cave..aka le garage, have gotten some quality time though. Don't look at this disaster with workbench projects, (we are building a robot apparently), gaming devices and everything else.

I just close my eyes when I walk through!

 When I get aggravated at the slacktitude, (my husband's word), I try to remind myself they'll be cranking out school work soon enough. (I hope!)

Yes, back to school, it's not all BAD! I'll have a bit more time for myself. I'm looking forward to fall and fall clothes. I can't wait to clean out the closet and look at what I can do with the old wardrobe.

Just popped into Anthropologie in our town and fell in love with this...

This Bloomfield Tee is so easy and I love the front pockets and colors.

Florals are still having their moment and apparently pastels are going to be happening for fall and winter as well. We are talking Easter colors, according to Vogue and others!! Should be interesting...

So maybe this could be a cute transitional piece?

One more fashion note, I did buy a tote already for fall. It's easy for running around. I love having a bag to throw my shopping in as I go about the day. It's light and perfect for travel too. I don't know why, but light totes are my new favorite and I just don't see the appeal in the heavy and structured bags anymore. It's either these or a wristlet. Okay sometimes a clutch. I'm enjoying streamlining right now.

What do you think of totes?

I love the brown and black combo and the polka dot lining. It's called the Kerrington Shopper and it's from Tory Buch Fall 2014 line. I was in the store the other day there are too many cute things to count. Love the whole fall clothing line and it coordinates with these bags.  

I want to buy the small coin wallet in polka dot to match when I can.

I'm wearing the tote with my white outfit for Adrienne of The Rich Life's How I Wear My White post.  Some chic styling ideas for wearing white. She's also got a fun series started with videos of makeup tips with a very talented makeup artist, Veronica. Something to check out if you want to freshen up your look and get a new visage for fall.

I'm done meandering here and if you are still with me I'll be back later this week to share my fun visit to California designer Trina Turk's digs in Burlingame and the fabulous things she has for fall wardrobe and also for the home.

Happy week!