PART 2 IN PARADISE
I want to Talk about some further adventure of the edging eighty trio (JJ, Joan, and Carolyn, along with our chaperones, Barry and Richard) in Hawaii. Our one-week at the Westin Maui packed in so much memorable and exciting activity it’s truly possible to get a maximum dose of Maui without even leaving the resort. All styles of dining, from a beach bar to fine dinning. Let me rail on about two diverse dinners at our Westin home away from home.
WAILELE POLYNESIAN LUAU: When Joan asked, “What is a Luau?” we knew it was the perfect time and place for her to find out. The Wailele Polynesian Luau is right on the grounds of the Westin, overlooking a Kaanapali Beach sunset. We walked through a wing of the hotel, with temptingly lovely shops, right to the entrance of the Luau. We were greeted by sweet young women (and a pretty hunky guy), who gifted us with shell necklaces and led us to a variety of island drinks (including Maui Pineapple Rum). Then we moved outdoor, to our reserved table and watched the sun coming down behind the island of Lanai in the near distance. Before the show, a first rate, very Polynesian, entertainer keeps the audience happy, as if we weren’t happy enough alongside legendary Ka’anapali Beach with a stunning oceanfront backdrop. We enjoyed a generous Luau buffet with traditional selections for an authentic experience.
The newly revitalized Aloha Pavilion with cascading waterfalls, tropical gardens, and tiki torches allows a dramatic setting for guests to embark on a cultural journey to the Polynesian Islands where dance was considered not just a form of entertainment, but as a means of telling stories. The talent is sweet, amusing, and romantic, too breathtaking. The gentle hula, Hawaiian songs, and a special new performance dedicated to Wailele (meaning waterfalls). Featured dances from Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa reminded us that we’re not in Kansas! The breathtaking finale is Maui’s only extreme fire-knife dance performance led by fire-knife dance champion Martin Tevaga. It was an extreme fired-up Luau, enjoyed by all.
(I’d suggest reserving in advance if you are heading that way.)
HANGING: The best part of hanging around the Westin Maui Resort is you can just be a beach bunny (Carolyn loved the lounges on the beach where you can people watch.) I am an into-the-ocean type of girl and feel almost sacred in the Hawaiian waters. And Joan loved the art of nature with the lush foliage, the water flowers, and decorous carp. A parrot kept me shrieking “Aloha, aloha, aloha!” and the flamingo’s sometimes stood in a straight line. Small pleasures? Big to us.
TROPICA: After a farewell wine and sunset balcony gathering, our little troupe saved our last dinner for the Westin’s gorgeous fine dining restaurant and bar. The renowned Tropica is the resorts signature restaurant just off the beach walk, where we dined amidst flickering tiki torches, soft tumbling waterfalls, spectacular sunsets, and views of the neighboring islands and the dazzling Pacific Ocean. (This is so beautiful, please find it on the internet and see what awaits you; I just googled Tropica and below the dining data there are three pictures, click on the first one and it’s a little movie that covers the whole place.)
FLAVORS OF HAWAII: Tropica’s Chef de Cuisine, Jennifer Evetushick, predicts that we will fall in love with the fresh seafood and local produce that is prepared with Aloha. Jennifer, how about craven passion! The ahi & crispy pork belly is seared in my taste memory. I’d order that for a starter, entrée, and dessert. Still savoring the seared diver scallops. The pacific seafood “pho” was a flavor adventure (Joan ate my lobster) and we shared a roasted beet salad with truffle vinaigrette, local goat cheese, and macadamia nut croquette with island arugala. Just a hint of the enticing menu. Manager Barry Chu surprised us with a dessert sampler, aloha and oy! White chocolate banana bread pudding, pineapple/polenta genoise, kaffir lime, and lemongrass crème brulee, studies in chocolate, yuzu cheesecake, and sorbets and ice cream. Humbling and humiliating, so much tantalizing abundance. Oh, well, if one wants to have a lighter fare, the Tropica Bar, at the rear of the restaurant, backed by a shimmering water wall, is a destination itself, a romantic place to enjoy pupus & starters, tropical entrees, and desserts, not to mention the inventive cocktails.
I still have tons of tales of visits to the upcountry and the missed airplane (chagrin) … One more Hawaii column coming.