feel pure aloha: adventure, culinary, culture, fitness and wellness at travaasa hana

TravaasaHanaIt had been a while. As many of you may agree, Hana sometimes seems like a neighbor island; a sweet, old neighbor whom you think about and hope to see soon. But, nonetheless, a distant neighbor located a million miles away from our hectic lives that we can have here on Maui. It can just seem “so far away.”

After living fifteen years on Maui, I tend to feel like the only way to go to Hana is to stay the night, and it had definitely been too long. I was curious about the new owners of the hotel after reading and hearing word of their re-birth of the Hotel Hana Maui and wanted to see it first hand.

I took a leisurely pace on the serpentine drive from Pa`ia to Hana, even stopping to take a photo or two at the lookouts (shocking!). I turned off my phone and played some of the old music of Hawai‘i just to get in the mood.

As I pulled into the graceful circular drive with the Makaha Sons playing on my stereo, I felt like I had arrived at some amazing kama‘aina home. I was greeted by gentle smiles, and the first words that came to mind were “Pure Aloha.” The people who I have met from Hana over the years just seem to naturally exude it. This was definitely the case with the staff at Travaasa Hana.

A fragrant hand-strung plumeria lei was draped around my neck, and after a sweet brush of a kiss on the cheek from my new friend I was ready to unplug and absorb Hana’s Aloha. I immediately wondered out loud why it had taken almost 4 years to get back to this place.

The Sea Ranch Cottages were my ultimate destination, and since I had noted that they are “keiki-free” it was a bonus. I was solo and my loving and energetic five-year-old was at home with dad. Children are welcome at Travaasa Hana, but on the Sea Ranch side of the property guests must be 16 years and over. There are family periods in this area offered throughout the year.


The mission of Travaasa Hana is for guests to really “Experience” their different pathways at the resort. What are pathways? Travaasa defines the resort experience around the following: Adventure, Culinary, Culture, Fitness, Spa/Wellness. Adventure offers everything from Glider adventures to Stand Up Paddling and Snorkeling. Culinary is a focus on serving locally sourced organic fruits, veggies, seafood and meat of the highest quality. The culinary programs offer things like basic skills and how to use local produce (how do you husk a coconut? how do you properly slice a pineapple?) Guests participate daily in these interactive classes and programs. Culture is featured in almost every aspect of the experience and they strive to share the local culture of Hana and of Hawai‘i through hula, lei making, ukulele, throw net fishing and more. Guests participate in these activities throughout their stay with daily programs. Fitness is a serious part of the schedule (should you choose) with daily offerings for the most fit guests to a first time yogi. Yoga, outdoor fitness circuits, core conditioning, pilates, nature walks outdoor coastal workouts, foam rollers were all offered on the daily schedule during my stay. Spa and Wellness features workshops designed for a guest’s inner and outer needs. A balanced state of mind, coupled with managed stress, a healthy body and a satisfied soul, gives focus and a point of view to our lives. Travaasa wants their guests to explore this through meditation, stretch, yoga, posture and breath work. They offer health-oriented consultations that help get guests started. They call them a “wellness toolkit” that you can refer to again and again after leaving Hana.


The Spa at Travaasa Hana is open daily from 9am to 7pm and is perfect for a day tripper who needs a little stress relief after the long drive.

The spa treatments here go far beyond pampering and indulgence. They reflect Hana, their passion for, and knowledge of, the human body. They honor the ability of plants and essential oils to naturally treat, heal and revitalize the soul. An array of massages, healing rituals, beauty treatments and personalized services are available, using only organic, bioenergetic products. The Spa features Amala skin care products.  The Maui Concierge will cover the Spa in detail in our next issue (stay tuned).


There are three categories of rooms (I hesitate to call them rooms, they are so much more!) at Travaasa Hana. All are free of radios, clocks and TVs so that you can fully embrace the vibe here. They all feature organic linens and blankets, Made in Maui bath products, (think handmade Vanilla Sandalwood Goat Milk Soap with Amber Lavendar and Sage), Fresh fruit and snacks (the perfectly moist homemade banana bread with mac nut chunks and Whole Bean Hana coffee were amazing, they stock you with a grinder for the freshest pot each morning), refrigerators stocked with complimentary bottled water and nightly turndown service.

The Sea Ranch Cottages are located on the east side of the property and are offered with all-inclusive packages so that you can sample spa treatments and meals without worry. Many of the cottages feature private hot tubs and all have expansive lanais with ocean views.

Garden Suites are located on the pristine grounds nearer the main lobby and restaurant and large “villa” like suites with wet bars, refrigerator stocked with complimentary bottled water and the Waikoloa Family Suites are located together on the fun 3-hole pitch and putt golf course, perfect for families because they feel just like home (but way less cluttered). They feature a large dining area and gourmet kitchen and large bathrooms to accommodate the whole crew! This set up is perfect for multi-generation family gatherings.


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were offered in the Ka‘uiki dining room and with a covered outdoor lanai and amazing view of Hana Bay the temperature was perfect to enjoy meals any time of day. The Paniolo Lounge located just next door offered delicious pupus and cocktails with a comprehensive wine list as well.

Executive Chef Barry Villiarimo returned to Hana in 2010, coming full circle to where his career began. Raised in Hana, Chef Barry spent the previous twenty years heading up some of the finest hotel restaurants on the West Coast, including the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. With a focus on farm-to-table cuisine, coupled with a blending of indigenous Hawaiian ingredients whenever possible, Chef Barry’s attention to healthy eating is the perfect complement to Travaasa Hana’s mission.


Travaasa Hana has a commitment to presenting local Hawaiian music and dance on a regular basis. I was treated to an amazing Thursday Night show in the Paniolo Lounge that week. There could not be a more perfect soundtrack to this place than Leokane Pryor and CJ Helekahi who played acoustic for just over two hours that evening. The lounge was comfortably packed with locals and guests mutually enjoying the vibrant tunes and accompanying hula. The talent on those stools was amazing, Leokane and CJ’s melodious voices and the chemistry of the two entertainers was memorable, I bought both of their CD’s after the show and when it comes on in my car I am immediately transported back to that little lounge in Hana where these pure, warm voices just belong. I encourage you to check them both out: http://www.mountainapplecompany.com/cjhelekahi and http://www.leokane.com.


Beginning on October 1 of this year, Mokulele Airlines started operating twice-daily flight service from Kahului Airport to Hana Airport. Passengers fly aboard a nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravan 208B and enjoy rich views during the 20-minute flight. Tickets start at $59 each way and flights can be booked online at http://www.mokuleleairlines.com. The morning flight departs Kahului at 11:19am and arrives at Hana at 11:40am. It departs Hana at 12pm returning to Kahului at 12:21pm. Afternoon flight departs Kahului at 4:14pm and arrives at 4:35pm. It leaves Hana at 4:55pm and arrives in Kahului at 5:16pm. A restored Packard jitney operated by Travaasa will meet both flights and shuttle passengers a short four-mile drive to the hotel.

By Land…The Road to Hana is approximately 52 miles of twists and turns and deservingly has been consistently ranked as one of the most scenic drives in the world. With over 50 bridges and 600 curves guests can expect a long, winding adventure. However, with Travaasa on the other end the drive just seems so worth it!


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