Posts Tagged ‘bungalows’

Exploring Maui, Hawaii: a Stay at Travaasa Hana

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Pool and the Pacific at Travaasa

If you want to drive the Road to Hana at a more relaxed pace, and stay for a night (or three) in the Hana area, Travaasa Hana (formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui) is the best bet for the luxury traveler. There are other options in town (including Airbnb properties), but if you want a full-service property, Travaasa is the way to go. Travaasa also offers a stay three nights and fly for free promotion that allows those who want to skip driving the Road to Hana altogether.

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One of the charming Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Not all rooms at Travaasa are created equal. The Ocean Bungalows are located across the street from the main hotel complex, near the pool and fitness studio. They are more expensive than the Garden Junior Suites and worth every additional penny. Our first room was a Garden Junior Suite and only had a standing oscillating fan for cooling. It was tolerable but not pleasant.

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The Ocean Bungalows had lovely breezes coming off the water, and newly refurbished bathrooms. It was a much more pleasant environment overall. The ocean bungalow also had a spacious lanai (balcony) which was great for viewing the sunset or enjoying a drink.

Rainbow time lapse at the Hotel Travaasa Maui

I shot this time lapse of a rainbow appearing from my ocean bungalow at the Hotel Travaasa Maui.

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Rainbow views at the Hotel Travaasa Hana on Maui

While the Hotel Travaasa does not have it’s own beach, it’s a mere 10 minute walk from the property to Hana’s gorgeous Red Sand Beach (also known as Kaihalulu).

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Bed in an ocean bungalow

Hana is not a highly populated area and while all the hotel staff were very nice, service was uneven. The bellman who showed us to our room the first night (a Garden Junior Suite) did not point out where the hotel’s pool was located. When we ordered cocktails from room service, they failed to make note of our room number and we had to call back. The staff made up for the error by comping the round of drinks.

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Lovely renovated bathroom in the Ocean Bungalow

Tennis courts and a rec room are some of the other facilities on the Travaasa Hana property .

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Another view of the bedroom of an Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa

Travaasa rates can be all-inclusive or priced a la carte. We opted for a la carte and think it was the right choice. While there isn’t a wide selection of full service restaurants in the area, there are several food trunks that served tasty tacos and bbq that are perfect for lunch or a quick snack.

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The living room of the Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa Hana

All rooms come stocked with coffee makers and banana bread, a local specialty.

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The ocean bungalows at Travaasa

Travaasa also offers a schedule of cultural, culinary, and adventure experiences as well as fitness classes. Some are free, others are offered for an additional fee. There is also a spa on the property. I can’t vouch for any of the classes or spa services since we used Travaasa as a home base for Hana and spent most of our time off the property exploring the area. The spa and fitness class space did however look lovely.

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Sunshine on the Ocean Bungalows

I really enjoyed Hana and would happily stay at Travaasa Hana again. But I’d be sure to book an Ocean Bungalow and I’d want to have my car with me so I could continue to explore the area and not be isolated on the property.

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Entrance to Travaasa Hana

The restaurant on property was fine but not exceptional, and service is more laid back than you will find in the other resort areas of Maui like Wailea or Kaanapali.

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Breakfast at Travaasa Hana

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A view of the Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana

Travaasa isn’t cheap but I’d happily stay here again. It’s not the place for you if you require five star service or strong A.C., but it’s a lovely place to use as a base to explore the Road to Hana and the Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park.

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Rocks along the walk to the Red Sand Beach

If you are staying at Travaasa, please keep in mind driving the Road to Hana after dark is dangerous and plan your driving time so that you arrive before dark. Hana doesn’t have a buzzing night scene but it a good night’s sleep can help you beat the crowds at some of the best attractions in the area by getting on the road early after a good night’s sleep.

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Maui’s Red Sand beach is a 10 minute walk from Travaasa

The vibe in Hana is chill and relaxed, so you just kind of go with it and enjoy the island vibe. It’s fantastic.

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Pink clouds at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Travaasa Hana Maui

5031 Hana Hwy
Hana, Hi 96713

Tel: 808-248-8211

Room rates start at $450

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A Stay at Maia Luxury Resort on Mahe Island, Seychelles

Panorama of the view from villa 218

I visited the Seychelles for the first time in December, 2014 and stayed at Maia Luxury Resort using free nights my husband earned as member of LHW’s Leaders Club Unlimited program. Maia Luxury resort is small and intimate, with just 10 oceanfront villas and 20 panoramic villas.

A fountain in the private plunge pool of villa 218

We were picked up at the Seychelles International Airport by chauffeured car and driven the 40 minutes to the resort (we arranged the car transfers directly with the hotel for € 100 each way). Upon arrival, we were quickly checked in before being taken to Villa 218 by golf cart.

Left: views of the Indian Ocean from Maia Right: Plantains as an in-room amenity

Villa 218 is a panoramic villa which has incredible 180 degree views of the resort’s stunning peninsula location and the Indian Ocean below.

Maia’s luxurious bungalows and personalized butler service mean there is very little reason to leave your room, although it’s worth doing. I was glad I lured beyond the confines of my villa to check out Maia’s award-winning Balinese style spa and the hotel’s main restaurant, pool, and beach area.

Floating flowers at Maia Luxury Resort

The restaurant serves Asian, Indian, and Creole food with focus on fresh seafood and tropical flavors. The Indonesian dishes were standouts. We also had a memorable dinner in the resort’s Wine Boutique where the hotel’s sommelier showed us some of the resort’s most interesting wine bottles.

Left: chaises in the pool of villa 218 Right: Maia Resort’s main pool area

The resort has a high staff to guest ratio and focuses on personalized service. At first I found the service a bit intrusive, but once we spoke to the management we were able to step it back to a more comfortable level.

Pastel sunsets are the norm at Maia

The food was great from both room service as well as in the hotel’s main restaurant. I was impressed with my massage treatment at the spa and was glad I left to room to get it.

I still can’t get over this outdoor bath & shower at Maia

Maia’s away-from-it-all vibe reminded me a bit of Imanta Punta Mita.

A Balinese style daybed in Villa 218

The in-room amenities are Bulgari and the addition of sunscreen was appreciated.

I loved the tropical, elegant and zen decor in the rooms

The king sized bed was comfy, and wifi worked throughout the villa and in most of the public areas. It was hassle-free.

The fan helped keep things cool and the mosquito netting went mostly unused during our stay

The Sunset Pool Bar

Maia has an impressive collection of Cognac

Room service sushi at Maia

The front door of villa 218

There were other guests at the resort during our stay but we did not see or interact with them much. The resort seems geared towards privacy. This spot is great for couples or honeymooners who enjoy luxury and privacy.

Views of Maia Luxury Resort’s private stretch of beach

Watching a pastel sunset from the beach at Maia

Obligatory toes-in-the-sand selfie

This was the closest I got to other guests at Maia Luxury Resort

Villa rates start at $2,313.53 USD per night (making this property an excellent choice for free nights redemption as part of the LHW Leaders Club program.)

Maia Luxury Resort

Address: 5th June Ave, Anse Boileau, Seychelles

Phone:+248 4 390 000

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A Stay at Sugar Beach: A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

White Sand and Lounge Chairs at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort

Last month, I visited the Caribbean island of St. Lucia for the first time. I split my time between two different hotels in the Soufriere area, the first of which was Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort. Sugar Beach is located about an hour’s drive  from Hewanorra International Airport (UVF).

The chic Lobby of Sugar Beach

While St. Lucia is rather small (27 miles long and 14 miles wide) it’s mountainous and curvy, but the drive wasn’t overly winding. It was nice to not get carsick after flying in from Miami. We were greeted with cool towels as soon as we arrived.

Colonial Chic furnishings at Sugar Beach

Situated on a former 18th century Sugar Cane plantation in the Val de Pitons UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sugar Beach is a favorite destination for couples and honeymooners. The geography is lush, the rum is good and the sunsets spectacular.

Views from around Sugar Beach

Swinging daybed in one of the public spaces at Sugar Beach

After checking in, we were driven to our room in a colorful jitney, which run as shuttles about the hilly property, making it easy for guests to get from their rooms to the beach, restaurant and spa.

We were shown to room 709, a luxury cottage with oodles of plantation chic charm and wonderful welcome amenity– a bottle of Chairman’s Rum, distilled on St. Lucia, which quickly became our favorite sundowner.

No Shocker Couples love Sugar Beach: behold the Hella Sexy Bedroom of room 709

Claw foot bath tub and side by side sinks in the bathroom of room 709

The bathroom was generously sized, with a gorgeous claw foot tub, side-by-side sinks, cool art and separate areas for the toilet and a huge rain shower.

The patio of our cottage provided privacy and a lot of colonial luxury

The bedroom was hella sexy– after sipping the rum, I kept expected to see Mick Jagger in his prime under the white mosquito netting. It’s not surprising the honeymooners love this place.  It was also nice to have a completely separate living room, butler service, and an in-room iPad where I could book my spa appointments at the resort’s incredible Rainforest Spa.

Lunch at the casual Bayside Restaurant

The Cocktail Menu and Cuban cigars on the menu at the Bayside Bar

If the beach isn’t your thing, Sugar Beach has a killer pool as an option too

There’s a super cute Sugar Club for kids if you’re traveling as a family. The property prides itself on it’s family programs. I didn’t see many kids during my stay, but that also means if they were on property they were well entertained.

Cool old ruins from the resort’s days as a working Sugar Cane Plantation now have become a favorite backdrop for brides and grooms getting married on the porperty.

Other than wifi, a well placed hammock is my favorite amenity

I can see why Matt Damon chose to have his vow renewal on the property– there really is no reason to leave the property with multiple restaurants, activities, bars and things to do right on site. The butler service is top notch, the wifi signal was strong.

Boats and beach chairs on Sugar Beach

There’s tons to do at Sugar Beach, but the villas are so comfortable, this is a great place to come to do absolutely nothing at all.

Catamarans and kayaks ready for Sugar Beach Guests

The Sugar Baby

Left: the beach activities hut Right: colorful jitneys are a fun way to cruise around the property

Rum based cocktails are the house favorites

I found the cocktails to be priced fairly for a luxury resort (most around $14) but the $9 price tag for watermelon juice at breakfast was a touch excessive. My advice– just sleep in, skip breakfast, and grab a light bite by the beach.

Casual lunch at the Bayside Bar & Rum based drinks

On the dining front, I preferred the food at the casual Bayside restaurant and bar (the Pomelo Basil Mojito $14 was the standout cocktail of the trip). Cane Bar has a sushi menu and while delicious, it was extremely pricey and the service was a bit slower, but I could have caught it on an off night. It’s definitely worth visiting the Cane Bar to see the sexy space and the art in the back Late Night Bar and snooker rooms– including giant Polaroids of Tim Burton and other notable celebrities. I did not eat in the Great Room (although the room is stunning).

There is some interesting art at Sugar Beach. The property’s owner is a former accountant for the Rolling Stones.

The Late Night Bar at Sugar Beach

Rum Collection in The Cane Bar

The sleek Cane Bar has a killer selection of rum– and a “rummelier” who can help you select one to try– or even a flight of rum.

Pool between the Pitons

Service on the beach was pleasant and leisurely. I didn’t have to wait long to have a drink delivered to my beach bed, and a local known as “coconut man” would come by daily offering fresh young coconuts to drink for $4 and sold out daily.

Signs to Sugar Beach, the Rainforest Walk on property

The resort offers all sorts of water activities from SCUBA to paddle boarding, and has plenty of tour options available if you’re itching to hike Gros Piton.

Pool, palm trees, and Sugar Beach

If you feel you’ve overindulged on the local rum and chocolate, you can work it off in the resorts state of the art fitness center. They have tons of cardio and weight equipment, and also offer cool fitness classes like aerial yoga. The schedule is listed on your trusty in-room iPad.

Boats for hire at Sugar Beach

The deck of room 709 at sunset

Left: Room 709’s plunge pool Right: Chairman’s Rum: the perfect local sundowner

The Gorgeous Great Room

Sugar Beach After Dark

Sunset Sail at Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort (formerly The Jalousie Plantation)

Val des Pitons

P.O. Box 251

Soufriere, Saint Lucia

Tel +1 758 456 8000

Guestroom Reservations: 800 235 4300 (From US and Canada)

Guestroom Reservations: +925 298 6438 (International callers)

Room rates start at $485.00 per night

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