Feeling the Aloha Spirit at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

By  August 19, 2011

There are few places in the world as picturesque as Maui. A dream destination for tropic-seeking tourists, Maui combines the lush, untouched beauty you’ll find on the Big Island or Kauai, while retaining some of the verve and nightlife you’ll find on highly populated Oahu. It’s arguably Hawaii’s most idyllic island – and I was lucky enough to experience this exotic piece of paradise on a recent press trip sponsored by the Maui Visitors Bureau. Duty calls.

Situated on the western edge of Maui, Kapalua (meaning “arms embracing the sea”) boasts five bays, three white-sand beaches, abundant rainforests, a marine life conversation district, an ancient Hawaiian burial ground, and renowned golf courses that double as wildlife sanctuaries.

With 453 chic guest rooms, multiple restaurants, a 17,500-square-foot spa, and a sparkling three-tiered pool, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is a vast respite for Maui’s most persnickety vacationers. (And persnickety I most certainly am.)

My club-level room* featured Hawaiian decor centered around a perfectly plush king-sized bed. The deluxe marble bathroom had a separate bathtub and shower and ample room for girlie primping. (*Note to self: moving forward, only stay in club level. The free food! The bounty of booze! The impeccable service! Pinch me… my every whim has been met.)

Eat, Drink, and Be Maui
One need not leave the property to experience the piquant flavors of Maui. Hawaiians love them some food – and you’ll never go hungry at the Ritz.

Alaloa Lounge
The expansive lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua features truly astounding views of the Pacific Ocean, and so the Alaloa Lounge is a lovely spot to watch the sunset and sip a boozed-up Mai Tai. Happy hour is every hour here.

The Terrace
An intimidating breakfast buffet is served daily at The Terrace, a brightly-colored restaurant overlooking the resort’s manicured gardens. A pineapple mimosa is a great way to start the day. Or, you know, another Mai Tai.

Kai Sushi
The hotel’s newest restaurant draws its name and inspiration from the ocean. Serving the freshest sushi in Maui (try the Kai special roll!), this contemporary eatery offers vast views of the Pacific and the island of Moloka’i. While there, feel free to order a Mai Tai. (Hey, don’t judge me. It’s vacation.)

The Banyan Tree
The Ritz’s signature restaurant, Banyan Tree features a global menu that showcases Hawaii’s abundant harvests and fresh catches. Highlights on the mouthwatering menu include steamed branzino with maitake-ginger broth, crispy Hawaiian snapper with Maui-style tortilla, and Kona Lobster with spring vegetable succotash.

Lomilomi for LaurenLauren
I have high expectations when I go to a spa. The facilities should be immaculate, the rituals should be spiritual, and the overall experience should be transformative. Settling for anything less is unacceptable. (I told you, I’m persnickety.) And while my treatment was gratis. most people spend hundreds of dollars for a 60-minute experience. So you should get your money’s worth.

And at the Ritz, you do.

Maui, wowie. My body was poi (look it up) in the hands of my experienced therapist. She knew how to manipulate me in ways that seemed unnatural, yet felt unbelievable. A twelve-hour flight will eff up your back, and she undid every hint of damage. And the use of hot stones and the gentle strokes of the lomilomi technique put me in a coma-like trance.

The serene space itself is a Maui marvel. The relaxation lounge, steam rooms, cedar saunas, and heated whirlpools add to the ethereal ambiance of this ultimate escape. It’s a great way to recover from too much sun and, yes, one too may Mai Tais.

Check out today’s post on GlamNest. You’ll get a heaping portion of Hawaiian culture as I transport you to the annual Celebration of the Arts festival at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. We’ll learn the hula, see a puppet show, eat like royalty, and drink a few more Mai Tais, of course.