My (brand-spankin’-new!) husband and I arrived at a genius plan for our honeymoon: 10 whirlwind, non-stop days in Japan, followed by five mellow, sit-and-do-nothing ones in Hawaii. We arranged this in part to break up the long flight to our home in New York, but mostly to check palm trees off our of our fantasy-vacation-must-haves list, and to recuperate after our Amazing Race-style traveling. As it so turns out, the very good people at the Montage Kapalua Bay in Maui are bona fide experts at providing just that sort of relaxing and tropical holiday.
Landing in Maui, we made a pit stop for coconuts with straws stuck in them (tip: there’s a not-to-be-missed roadside stand just five minutes from the airport), before continuing on the gorgeous hour-long drive along the coast to the hotel, where, upon arrival, we were greeted with pineapple-infused water, fancy leis and such enthusiasm that you’d be forgiven for thinking the staff were actually our parents. Well, Aloha to you, too…
All this fuss was immediately followed by an impressive mind reading session at reception: ‘Can I take care of your car and bags for you so you can go straight to the pool?’ (Yes). ‘Can I make you dinner reservations somewhere with a view?’ (Please do). ‘How about I book you outdoor massages at sundown?’ (You better.)
Having a look around, it was apparent why Instagram snaps featuring the blossoming grounds and their unimpeded view of turquoise waters and white beaches elicit a lot of ‘that looks fake’ commentary and even some unabashedly resentful ‘this is just rude’ remarks. None of which are wrong. It’s a postcard-perfect scene.
A cheery bellman led the way to our two-bedroom coastal view suite as he rattled off the endless list of features at our disposal (grocery delivery, in-suite chef) in a room that would be more accurately described as an apartment. The kitchen alone was three times the size of the one in my first New York apartment, and the walk-in closet could have easily doubled as an additional bedroom.
Neither modern nor trendy, the overall decor here is vacation style in the classic resort way –very floral, yet very comfortable. Mr Smith and I typically avoid resorts, and we were a bit skeptical when we discovered swan-shaped towel sculptures we found posing on our massive bed. However, just 15 minutes into our stay, we were both fully sold on this resort life thing. Perhaps it was the chocolate covered strawberries and champagne waiting for us, or it might have been the fresh coconut in our piña coladas, or possibly just the overall relaxed scene which people refer to as ‘the Aloha lifestyle.’ Whatever it was, we were into it.
And Montage Kapalua Bay, it seems, have perfected the resort-style stay. The Sunset Grill and Bar, although straightforward, was delicious. The Lagoon pool, although massive, was truly gorgeous with its waterfalls and winding rivers that created private little nooks and crannies.
The staff, although perma-smiling in their nothing-is-too-much-trouble way, were sincerely good at their jobs, and their grins even appeared to be a genuine result of excitement and pride. One afternoon, as we lounged poolside, a staff member noticed that my sunglasses were smudged and swiftly produced lens cleaner and a cloth seemingly out of nowhere.
Starting to feel relaxed after a dip in the pool and a glass of champagne on the balcony, we headed to the spa for our thoughtfully scheduled couples’ massage. Charged with the task of choosing a scent from the six signature options they had available, we were then guided down through the luxe changing rooms, past the steam rooms, saunas, infinity pool and hot tub, and finally to an open-air hut that looked out over an idyllic scene of flora, fauna and, naturally, the Pacific Ocean.
As dusk settled, we sank into the massage tables with the soothing sounds of a rain shower pitter-pattering mixed with traditional Hawaiian music drifting in the background. We peeked at each other from our respective beds and exchanged this-can’t-be-real glances moments before falling into trance-like states induced by what only be described as world-class massages.
It dawned on me that all those times I had been kneaded and pummeled resulting in ‘good pain’ was probably just ‘actual pain.’ This was pure, expertly-delivered bliss, and when it was over we promptly booked an appointment to do it all over again the following evening.
Waking early the next morning, we met a catamaran that cast off with 20 of us for a snorkeling adventure, and were introduced to SNUBA – a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving where your air tank remains on a raft floating above you on the water. Underwater, we spied fish in every color, downright frightening eels, elusive octopi and massive, mesmerizing sea turtles.
Stimulating and inspiring as all that activity was, it left us feeling as though we’d exerted enough energy to warrant doing nothing but lounging poolside for the rest of our stay. Perhaps, if we were feeling truly ambitious, we’d have strolled the five minutes down to the beach or entertained a round of golf. However, we didn’t apply any undue pressure on ourselves and we didn't need to either – this is ‘the Aloha lifestyle,’ after all.