Monday, February 19, 2024

Pre-Disaster Maui

Trip date: May 2023

Just 3 months after I returned from my latest trip to Maui, Lahaina (and surrounding areas) burned to the ground. It was shocking to realize that some of the places I had just discovered might be gone forever. 

I had taken advantage of (another!) 5-night Westin/Marriott timeshare presentation deal at the Ka'anapali Ocean Resort. This was my 4th time at the resort and I was looking forward to working from Maui for the week. I really love this beautiful property; the beach is fab, the weather would be warm and sunny, and they gave me a great discount on a rental car so I upgraded to a convertible!

I booked my flight on Alaska in Premium Class and a few weeks before my flight TripIt Pro alerted me to a drop in the fare. I called Alaska and saved $230! That more than paid for my $49 annual subscription!

It's a beautiful 45 minute drive from the airport, and since I knew that my room at the resort was a 1 bedroom with living room and kitchen, I made a stop at the nearby Foodland for groceries. Foodland has some of the best poke around! As well as musubi, local chips, ready made salads, etc. I love shopping here and I really like having some of my own stuff in my fridge.

When I pulled up to the resort the valet directed me to the other tower to the north of where I have always stayed in the past. To me, the North Tower was not near as nice as the South Tower and when I walked into my room I was super disappointed. It was an ADA room so the closet wasn't high enough to hang my clothes and the bathroom was super dumpy. The room was also as far from the beach as you could get and I could hear road traffic from my lanai. 

I spoke to a few different managers and finally got them to agree to move me the next day. I celebrated down by the central firepit with a double HH mai tai and some live music. It had been a long day so I decided to just have a couple of fish tacos at the hotel's outdoor casual restaurant (along with a few more mai tais!)

The next day I was moved to a MUCH nicer room, still in the north tower, but closer to the pool and the lobby. All week I pretty much kept to the same schedule; work on the lanai in the mornings and then a walk along the ocean on the boardwalk trail.

In the afternoon I'd rent a Casabella (a two-seater lounger with a hood you can raise or lower) at the pool (½ price after 12:30), swim, lunch and HH on the resort grounds and then have dinner offsite. 

One night I took the hotel shuttle to The Cannery mall and then walked across the road to the new location of Star Noodle. Always a favorite, but now with an oceanside location on Front Street. I had delicious garlic noodles, smashed cucumber salad, and a couple of cocktails. 

At this time, it's unclear if the restaurant will be able to reopen. It's so sad to know that the buildings here were completely burned. 

Another night I walked down the boardwalk to Duke's for dinner at the bar. It's touristy and overpriced but I love having a Duke's mai tai along with some fresh catch baked with butter and herbs. And it is so close to the Westin!

Another evening I took an Uber to Papa'aina Restaurant in the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina. I had reservations just after sunset so I got there a bit early to take in the scenery.

Unfortunately when I went to enter the restaurant, it was closed. No note, no explanation. I double checked my email confirmation and I had the right day and time. It was frustrating! 

This historic hotel's building was completely destroyed in the fires, it had been in operation since 1901 and was the oldest hotel on the island. There are no plans for rebuilding or reopening which is such a loss for Lahaina. 

I ended up calling another Uber and going to Honu which some hotel guests had told me about earlier in the week. 

Since I didn't have a reservation I ate at the bar where there seemed to be quite a few regulars also. I had a fantastic take on poke and also some wonderful grilled octopus. 

Honu is hoping to reopen summer 2024, if you are there and they are open, I highly recommend eating here!

And of course I had to attend a timeshare presentation, since that was the reason for the great deal. It was only 90 minutes, and I wouldn't say it was a hard-sell, but the salesperson was very rude when I was honest and said I wasn't going to be buying. And even though they offered me ANOTHER deal to pre purchase, based on the horrible first room I was given I declined. 

Maui is still rebuilding after the massive destruction the fires caused. Here's hoping that these places, and all the others along the quaint streets of Lahaina, are able to rebuild, rehire, and re-welcome their customers soon. 

Sending much love to the beautiful island.

All Maui photos here.

Other posts from this trip:
Volcano Lessons on Hawai'i

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