Maui: Travaasa Hana

I’ve never been to Hana, but since I had a certificate to Travaasa Hana Resort & Spa, I figured I’d use this Maui trip to see what this rural oasis was all about. Hana is a favorite vacation destination for President Bill Clinton and his family; I figured, what’s good for a First Family must be good enough for me.

People often talk about how the famous Road to Hana may make you carsick. Oddly enough, despite the narrow, twisting, 49-mile drive along the coast, I didn’t get carsick … and I’m prone to carsickness. I will tell you this: I often take Hawaii’s natural beauty for granted, since I’m surrounded by it every day. But nothing compares to the Road to Hana, even for a kamaaina like me. The foliage looks almost like it’s from prehistoric times, since much of it has been growing for decades or centuries. The trees are huge, the leaves are enormous. The bamboo forests are like nothing you’ll ever see in Hawaii (that I know of). People have said that Hana is the piko, or belly button, of the universe, and once you see it, you may agree.

Here’s a glimpse of our drive. (It’s also my first time truly editing video*.)

Once we arrived at Travaasa Hana, the memory of the long drive immediately disappeared, as the staff all greeted us and immediately got us started on what would be the most relaxing few days of our lives. Here’s what I didn’t quite understand until I got there, because it’s a unique concept for hotels: the all-inclusive package, which we got, is like buying a cruise ship package. All lodging, parking, meals, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, and activities are included, and no tipping is allowed. You are also allowed one massage per person…per day. Do you know what it’s like to take a massage every day? I can’t even describe how quickly all the toxins in my system dissolved.

Basic activities (and there is something going on almost every hour of the day) include yoga, pilates, meditation, water aerobics, core conditioning, guided coastal and garden walks, bicycle tours, martial arts conditioning, archery, a cultural tour of Hana, and more cultural stuff like net throwing, lei making, ukulele lessons, and basic hula. You can also use any of the sports equipment on property,  Our package also included premium activities like a tour of Ono Farms and a coastal horseback ride (which I’ll post tomorrow).

Although we were there on a gift certificate, Julie and I did the math backwards in our heads to figure out what a deal it was if when we come back. The package you’re about to see in my gallery would normally cost $462 per person per night** (kamaaina rate based on double occupancy) for an ocean view Sea Ranch Cottage with a hot tub. At first glance, it seems expensive, but think about it: A daily massage retails for $130. Dinner per person, not including drinks, could easily reach $100. Each activity at a resort in town probably goes for $20-30 per session. Parking in town is $30 per day, average. We packed each day with activities, so we’re pretty sure that once we were done, we would have gotten the $462 worth each day, easily.

Let’s put it another way: We had a good time and realized the all-inclusive price is actually a deal, so we can’t wait to go back. If anyone wants to join us for a girls’ detox spa weekend in Hana later this year, let me know.

Travaasa Hana

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Upon arrival, you get a cold, lemon-scented wet towel and a pass-o-guava drink. Even for a local, this was a welcome treat.

To preserve a sense of serenity, rooms are free from clocks, televisions, Internet and radio. It wasn’t just that we were mostly unplugged; we were filling our days with healthy activities. The scenery — from the vast manicured grounds to the whale-filled ocean to yes, even the ornery bull steer — played a big part in it, too. This was the first time in my life that I really felt I was refreshed from a vacation, and I came home re-energized.

The service was incredible at every level, too, and the whole time I kept wondering what the training program must be like. Everyone seems to be super mellow from rural living, yet the attention and courteousness was impeccable (without making you feel uncomfortable). I didn’t realize how much the service affected me until I made a call to town two hours before checkout and was roughly yanked back to reality by a customer “service” rep at another company.

Next up: Activities in Hana!

*Music performed by Thai ukulele star Singto Namchuk

**For those not wanting all-inclusive, room-only pricing is also available.