Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Hawaiian Tsunami That Wasn't

I spent a good portion of my Saturday glued to CNN, watching the continuing coverage of the possible tsunami as a result of the 8.8 earthquake in Chile.  Did anyone else do the same thing?  While the coverage was riveting and I couldn't look away from the screen, it actually started to stress me out so much that I had to leave the house, and I asked J to call me should anything bad happen.  Some of the footage indicated that people in Hawaii were literally freaking out - while others were just packing up what they could fit in their car in the hopes of waiting it out.  Take a look at this YouTube video of a cool surfer packing it all up on the North Shore just before the tsunami was supposed to hit O'ahu (Thanks tbone924)!

I'm really glad I left my house, and returned to hear that the tsumani warning had been cancelled, and that Hawaii had 'dodged' a bullet.  I was super worried about friends in Hawaii, not to mention Hawaii itself.  While I appreciate that CNN had ongoing coverage of this potential disaster, it scared me half to death, so I hate to think how the people in Hawaii were actually feeling while this was going on.  Thank goodness its over; but its a reminder of the need to be grateful for the things we have and the beauty that is earth.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Favorite Family Resort? Hilton Hawaiian Village

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa has been selected as one of the 10 best family resorts in the United States and Caribbean, according to Parents Magazine. The survey results, which will be published in the magazine’s March issue, were released yesterday.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village ranked 8th overall in the best-resorts survey, which was conducted among family travel agents and tourism boards.

Evaluation criteria included range of family activities, quality and uniqueness of supervised children’s programs, size and quality of rooms, safety factors such as lifeguards, fun features for parents, and overall financial value.  Sadly, there is a lack of presence in the top ten for west coast resorts, and many resorts selected were in overseas locations, which can make it tough if you don't have a passport.

The top 10 resorts for families according to the magazine are:

1) Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

2) The Franklyn D. Resort, Runaway Bay, Jamaica

3) South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island, Florida

4) Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Florida

5) Beaches, Turks & Caicos

6) Loews Coronado Bay, San Diego

7) Club Med Ixtapa Pacific, Ixtapa, Mexico

8) Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii

9) Winnetu Oceanside Resort, Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard

10) Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

For those with families, where do you like to stay in Hawaii?  Is the Hilton Hawaiian Village on your list of top hotels?  I've always loved the Hilton, not only for the location but their gorgeous wedding chapel and super cute penguins!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Drive to Hana and Hotel Hana Maui - By A Maui Blog

One of favorite Hawaii blogs is A Maui Blog - and most recently, Liza has written about her stay at hotel Hana Maui and the drive on the road to Hana.  Take a look at her great blog post here, and for all you Hawaii bloggers, be sure to add A Maui Blog to your blogroll!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blogging Inspiration

I am trying to read more blogs, websites and other travel related material, not only for blog inspiration, but to expand my knowledge in general.  There are good days and bad days; sometimes I find blogs and feel so depressed that I have such a long way to go, but other days I read things and I can put things into perspective, in terms of my writing quality and quantity. 

Today I came across this amazing blog, The Road Forks - 'where food and travel intersect'.  When I read this blog, it inspired me to want to take my writing to the next level.  Not only do I love Hawaii, I am a foodie and a world traveler at heart and I really want to be able to share more of those experiences as my life unfolds.  Seeing this blog made me realize that I just need to write about the things that are important to me, in a timely fashion, and variety is the spice of life.  While my blog will continue to be about Hawaii, I think its time for a little more in terms of travel news, travel tips, and travel inspiration.  Thanks Akila and Patrick for helping me see the light.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day for Hawaii Lovers

It's hard to believe that almost 12 months ago, our good friends Jimmy and Sammy were getting married on the beach in Hawaii.  Happy 1st anniversary you two!  With Valentine's Day approaching, I wanted to put together my top three Valentine's Day must-haves for those who either live in Hawaii, or who love Hawaii and would like some sweet treats to remind them of the Islands (husband, hint hint):

1. Flip Flops - While I would love a pair of designer flip flops, I know I would not get the most value out of them, so I prefer to go with cute designs at lower prices, and I can get 4-5 pairs per year.  My favorite designs are from Paul Frank, seen below.

2. Hawaiian Pearls - There are lots of great Hawaiian jewelry stores in Hawaii, and in fact, many of them have stores on the mainland as well. I have always wanted some fancy pearls, and I would love to get some that are either pink or chocolate in color, such as the ones below from Maui Divers Jewelry:

3. Hawaiian Lei - There's no better way to say "Aloha Au Ia 'Oe" (I love you in Hawaiian) than with a flower lei. Leis are made with a range of different Hawaiian flowers and are often made with nuts, seeds and shells for special occasions. Here's a picture of a beautiful lei, and many companies deliver to the US mainland so no excuses that you aren't in Hawaii!

Thanks to my friends at Orange Violet for the Valentine's Day inspiration!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Can't Keep Count of Hawaiian Vacations

After much discussion over the weekend, it looks like we have a date for our next trip to Hawaii.  It got me thinking about how many times I have traveled to Hawaii, including the times I went there with three suitcases and a green card in hand.  Whenever you travel to Hawaii, you are required to fill out a quick survey from the Hawaii Convention and Visitors Bureau, and it asks how many times you have visited the Islands.  I think on this next trip I will create a box titled: Too Many Times to Count.

Here's some of my favorite images from our most recent trip, in November 2009:

On the way to Koko Head Crater

Koko Crater, in all its glory

John at Fort De Russy Beach - with Diamond Head in the background

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sam Choy - Airline Style

Need to get your Hawaiian fix while you travel? First class and business class passengers on American Airlines traveling to and from Hawaii /Tokyo will now be offered a menu designed by Hawaii chef Sam Choy.

Choy’s menu is described as Asian-fusion — hibachi miso chicken, wok barbeque shrimp and wasabi-crusted salmon — designed to complement the carrier’s in-flight menu that includes traditional Japanese food fare. YUM!

American Airlines is one of the bigger airline carriers to serve Hawaii, with direct Honolulu-Tokyo flights operated via Japan Airlines.  This is great news for the popular chef, famous for his poke recipes and many cook books, as well as his well known restuarants in Hawaii and Guam.  To find out more about Sam Choy, visit his website.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

All Smiles at the Sheraton Waikiki

I’ve stayed at a number of hotels in Waikiki, and last year I had the pleasure of staying at the Sheraton Waikiki, located on Kalakaua Ave, next door to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. While we were only there for three nights, we had a fabulous time! Let me share my highlights:

1. The View – Wow, from our room on the 17th floor the view of Diamond Head was spectacular, and looking down from our balcony you were able to see Waikiki Beach and beyond, it was simply stunning.

2. The Restaurants – In addition to my usual favorites like Alan Wong’s, we also had dinner at Rumfire, which is on the ground floor of the hotel. Again the view was simply beautiful, and the food wasn’t bad either! The dish I had (pictured below) was asian-style chicken lettuce wraps, which were very impressive. The menu does change frequently, and you can view all their food and drink menus on their website. One small complaint – although the food and drinks were good, it made for an expensive meal –for the two of us it was over US$100 for two small appetizer dishes and two cocktails each!

3. The Location – This hotel would have to be in one of the best locations in Waikiki. Literally, the hotel is in the center of the action, and is in walking distance to everything. You can access the beach via the hotel pool area (see photo), and although there is not a lot of beachfront at the hotel, it’s a five minute stroll to Waikiki Beach or Fort De Russy Beach. The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is almost connected to the front of the hotel facing out to Kalakaua Ave, with plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and retail stores close by. In terms of location and value for money, this is by far the best Waikiki experience I have ever had.

All hotels have their weaknesses, so if you are looking for personalized service and Hawaiian hospitality, I probably wouldn’t recommend this hotel. With over 2,000 guest rooms, the hotel lobby always looks like an overcrowded train station with people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. It’s a busy hotel, and with only a small business center and limited concierge service it’s probably easier to bring your laptop and plan your own itinerary from your room (for a fee of course). Overall, the stay we had at the Sheraton Waikiki was fabulous and I would definitely recommend to other travelers. One final tip: Be sure to check the website regularly for travel specials; after we had booked our hotel, the price per night dropped by over US$80 per night and we were able to get a much better deal closer to our travel date, which we were able to update at no cost.