Fine Dining Finesse
We had an extraordinary dinner at Restaurant Ko, featuring plantation-inspired cuisine. (“Ko” means “sugarcane” in Hawaiian.) As the sugar industry grew in Hawaii, so did its need for manpower, bringing immigrants from around the world to work on the plantations. Simultaneously, this work force created Hawaii as “the melting pot of the Pacific.” Each ethnicity brought its own food, and culturally diverse farms and markets followed. At the Kea Lani, you can sit outside, by the pool, and sample some of these delicious and noteworthy offerings. Start with the lumpia Filipino spring rolls filled with chicken and mushrooms – they are scrumptious. Follow it up with the Mauka Harvest salad featuring local pohole fern shoots, hearts of palm, Kula baby lettuce, macadamia nuts and a spectacular passion-fruit-and-Tahitian-Vanilla vinaigrette. (It’s so good, everyone always asks to buy it, to serve over ice cream!) It is perfectly complemented with the restaurant’s Portuguese sweet rolls with a taro filling, served with lavender-herb butter, as well as an edamame spread. Delicious!
Then, just follow our example. For the entrée, Deb enjoyed a sweet walu fish grilled with miso butter and served with an Asian coleslaw, while Bill enjoyed a macadamia-nut crusted walu with a coconut-butter sauce. We went all out on desserts – the chocolate custard is a let’s-throw-calories-to-the-wind creation that is a cross between custard, mousse and fudge, and worth every bite. Of course, Bill encountered love at first bite with the pineapple upside-down cake. Then, naturally, we just had to try the lumpia bananas that the hotel’s food-and-beverage manager told us would be “life-changing.” In fact, the entire meal was unforgettable, especially as we were seated poolside, in a private curtained cabana. Life – and travel – just doesn’t get any better than this. Our compliments to the chef!
Other dining options at the resort include Nick’s Fishmarket Maui, an excellent seafood restaurant (read our review of it in our story about “Maui’s Top 10 Restaurants” on www.Justluxe.com.) Nick’s offers some of the island’s freshest fish such as island snapper piccata, candied peanut-crusted Hawaiian opah or gilled ahi mignon, served in a tropical ambiance. Nick’s also features a 2,000-bottle wine cellar and has consistently earned the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine for having one of the world’s most outstanding restaurant wine lists. (Although we fell in love with the tomato soup – more about that in our review at JustLuxe.com.) If you’re seeking the ultimate in romance, however, the Kea Lani can offer a “Twilight Dinner” and personalized four-course meal in a private cabana, as well as a “Hoku Lani” (dining under the stars) served near the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
And don’t forget about an umbrella-drink pina colada from the Luana Lounge, which offers spectacular views of the Maui sunsets. In Caffe Ciao Bakery and Deli, you’ll find a fabulous (and we do mean fabulous) selection of specialty coffees, fresh pastries and gelato, gourmet cheeses, and more. “Food for Flight” is exactly what you want before you catch the red-eye to Los Angeles – a delicious meal to take on the plane ride home. The Kea Lani also boasts its own line of bottled sauces, spreads, preserves and condiments – everything from coconut syrup to pineapple mustard. There’s no better way to “take the hotel home with you.”
As we said, we love the fact that the pool is heated, even in Hawaii, where we found the Pacific waters to be a bit chilly in November. The glamorous pool area also boasts adorable leaf-shaped rattan chaise lounges, and private cabanas that are available at a cost of about $150 for the day, with full services including fruit, cold towels, and more.
The spa experience at the Kea Lani is distinctively Hawaiian, and pleasureable in every way. (Read our full report about “Hawaii’s Top Five Spas” on www.JustLuxe.com). The Kea Lani’s spa offers The Full Monty of services in nine treatment rooms, including the most popular Ala Lani (Heavenly Scent) 80-minute wrap ($225) that features made-in-Maui products in the scents of ginger-lime and lavender-vanilla. (Don’t you just love when a spa uses indigenous ingredients?) “These fragrances were designed specifically for our spa,” says Angela Doyle, Spa Director. “The spa is elegant and quiet,” she said, pointing out the duvet covers on all of the massage tables, the domed ceilings, as well as the hydrotherapy tub and the couples rooms. Retail products include some of Deb’s favorite luxury brands -- Jane Iredale, B. Kamins, Kerstin Florian and Skinceuticals, as well as a retail area featuring jewelry and clothing. We shared an amazing couples massage ($450 for 80 minutes), which really is a must-do for every couple visiting the resort. Our therapists used Ala Lani Hawaiian Bliss oil, which is a delightful combination of citrus oils. Spa packages are also available, such as the Ocean Odyssey featuring a caviar facial and a body experience, ($455 for 130 minutes).
Adjacent to the spa is the Juvenal & Company hair salon
, featuring Aveda and OPI products. “Women love to come here to get pedicures, and we also do a lot of wedding hair,” says Chau Hidalgo, the owner. This is by far one of the best salons on Maui, featuring services designed to exceed your expectations. Ladies, when you’re in Hawaii, having a fantastic dinner every night, and wearing your best resort wear, you want perfectly pedicured-toes, stylish haircuts, and expert blow-drys, while men want a polished look as well. You’ll find everything from highlights, to men’s haircuts, to French braids, manicures, brow tinting, and special-occasion up-dos. Ask for stylist Barbara Holmes, who gave Deb an expert blow-dry that received rave reviews.
And here’s something else that’s sensational. Every Friday and Saturday, a terrific local artist and jeweler, Fileena Bahris
— who has designed for innumerable A-list Hollywood celebrities — exhibits and sells her jewelry in the Terrace-level lobby. Her designs are a hit with Sharon Stone, Paris Hilton, and Charlize Theron. Fileena uses genuine Murano glass that comes directly from the factory in Venice, and crafts exquisite necklaces and bracelets. She also designs her “Shooting Star” jewelry featuring a small diamond, which is popular with Paris Hilton (who also bought some for her two dogs). Charlize Theron “loves the coral,” says Fileena, while Sharon Stone “loves the coral and pearls.” Many of Fileena’s designs also use genuine Tahitian black pearls, as well as tanzanite, and part of the proceeds of her sales go to stop inhumane treatment of dolphins in Japan. Fileena’s designs became a must-have among Hollywood celebrities after she crafted jewelry for the Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith movie, and then donated her creations to an auction afterwards. Fileena doesn’t mass-produce any of her designs, and told us, “I swim with the dolphins every week in Lanai and design the jewelry after I get out of the water with them.” You’ve probably already read about her in any number of magazines or seen her designs worn by celebrities on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Simple Life and E Entertainment. We’re impressed that the Kea Lani offers this kind of special, unusual designer under its roof entirely for your benefit.
The Kea Lani is something special -- with everything under its heavenly white roof to make your Maui experience as memorable as it can be. The best thing is that even if you’re not a VIP – you’ll get the VIP treatment.
Rates for 2010 start at $369 for a moderate suite; $529 for an oceanview suite. Many packages are available, including the “Romance Package,” for $439 per night that includes accommodations in a one-bedroom suite or villa for a minimum of five nights; champagne; deluxe buffet breakfast; candlelit dinner-for-two at Restaurant Ko; flower petal turndown, and more.
For more information contact the Fairmont Kea Lani, (800) 441-1414, (800) 659-4100; www.fairmont.com/kealani.
See all Luxury Hotels in Hawaii