They say luck is believing you're lucky. I believe we are lucky we live Hawaii, lucky to be happy, healthy and you have the power to create your own destiny. I consider myself lucky to have some of the best friends in the world... And this is why I recently experienced what it's like to visit the new Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
There are a series of weeks in and around Thanksgiving up until the first of December where 3 of us girlfriends have birthdays. One of my friends had an amazing idea for a one-night staycation at the Four Seasons. The five-star resort located on Oahu's famed Ko Olina coast opened in late May 2016. After the Ihilani closed and underwent a renovation and Four Seasons delightfully arrived everyone was excited to see the changes. Our small group of friends had frequented the spa and literally spent the day getting treatments 24 hours just before the closure.
It was fresh, elegant, refined and beautiful. The moment you arrive you feel like royalty. You are greeted with a lei, friendly smile and beverage. We stayed in an oustanding villa located on the ground level facing the infinity pool and ocean. This was extra special because it also included a private hottub. The staff is welcoming, charming, accessible, willing to assist and generous with their time and effort to make you feel comfortable. Simple things like showing us where to borrow stand-up paddle boards... To more complicated requests like having a mini-fridge brought to our room are executed with grace and the true essence of Hawaiian hospitality.
The main thing that stands out to me at this resort is the service, everyone makes you feel like your family. We spent most of our time in the infinity pool and at the beach. The weather was remarkable and the sunset spectacular. The structure of the hotel is the same, but enhancements have been made to coincide with the luxury that is the FS brand. Notable changes from the renovation include more than a dozen new suites, 2 new pools including the adult-only infinity pool and new restaurants. If you want to indulge a bit, be treated like a king or queen make the effort to visit the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina for a romantic and luxurious getaway. They often have special packages and kama'aina discounts because you deserve to feel lucky too!
Over indulge a bit this holiday season? I know the feeling. I discovered something that just might do the trick if you're hoping to relax, cleanse your spirit and body, release all those toxins, renew and refresh. The Na Ho'ola Spa located at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki is the perfect place to find some solitude, scrub away those excess toxins, cleanse and moisturize.
Recently, launched the Japanese Onsen Mineral Wrap is more like a 3-in-1 retreat for your body and face.
First, you are scrubbed using a special Onsen salt and sugar organic mineral scrub, which is also infused with green tea exract. Loaded with more than 90 natural minerals like the traditional onsen in Japan this has many healing properties. Similarly, I have been to Seoul, Korea and visited a spa where they scrub your body on a table and you can see the leftover skin and oils left behind. Although loved by many, this process in Korea is sometimes painful and can leave your skin looking red and somewhat sore. This is *not* the case here at Na Ho'ola, Kaori my therapist was so kind, accomodating and applied just the right amount of pressure; I didn't feel any pain at all. It was more like a mesmerizing fullbody massage, it felt sooo good.
The second part of the process involves application of a delicious yuzu citrus cream to your body. While on the amazing warm massage table you are gently folded into a plastic sheet and then a cozy blanket to let all the minerals and healing agents absorb into your body. It's nice and warm, comforting and you feel like you're in a cocoon healing your body. Meanwhile, Kaori conducts a relaxing yet invigorating Matcha facial. The touch and products used are noninvasive and stimulate all the senses leaving your face feeling hydrated, refreshed and it's perfect for sensitive skin. This is so relaxing and comfortable you might fall asleep.
Then after the wrap and facial you go into a shower in your room and rinse the minerals and cream. Afterwards you return to the bed and another delightful fullbody massaging rubdown begins to once again moisturize and replenish your body. The body butter is crafted with Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Oil, Kukui Nut Oil, Japanese Yuzu and citrus. This delightful experience left my skin glowing, healing and my soul refreshed.
This was a wonderful experience, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am dreaming about when I can return...
Here's a look at the spa:
Here's the deets:
Currently on SPECIAL - the Japanese Onsen Mineral Wrap (includes scrub, facial and massage) is $120 for 50 minutes
Self Parking at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki is complimentary
Use of the amenities and facility is good all day
(does not include sales tax, service charge and gratuity).
Click for a look at special offers: www.nahoolaspawaikiki.com/special-offer/
As Island Air continues its path toward expanding to a larger aircraft fleet, the now locally owned and operated air carrier remains focused on its growth and expansion in the Hawaiian Islands. Over the past year I have often flown "the island way" to Kauai, Hawaii Island and every month to the Valley Isle. One thing that stands out to me is the true spirit of aloha and prominent feeling of hookipa while traveling with them.
Often when I am dropped off at Honolulu International Airport I have to remind my driver that their terminal is not in the main wing but in the commuter terminal, where the interisland planes used to fly in and out of many years ago. There's something charming to me about the friendly family-like customer service and boarding the plane from the ground/jetway and then up the ramp. It reminds me of my childhood.
With all my frequent interisland travels to and from Honolulu I have come to feel like ohana with the staff, often exchanging hugs, hellos and the ground crew sometimes whispering to each other "she flies with Island Air all the time." It's kind of funny actually. The small touches really impress me, like the storytelling that takes place on board where the flight attendants give you a brief summary of each island with stats and other noteworthy facts. It feels like it's your own personal charter plane.
My all time favorite thing is... when you depart, take a look out the window, as soon as the plane will push back the ground crew gathers and WAVES. Yes, they are waving goodbye to you. It's the cutest thing ever and everytime I fly I always sit by the window and wave back. It puts a smile on my face and reminds me of what true hospitlatiy is and what it means to share aloha with others!
*Island Air offers Kupuna and Keiki fares for $62 one-way you can also score the one-way coupon Travel Pak which includes no minimum stay and no blackout dates, good for one year available until 12/31/16.
I recently visted Paris for the first time, in fact that was my very first time visitng Europe. The weather was chilly, the architecture phenomenal and the people all dressed as if they were supermodels. I had the opportunity to travel with a group of 8 that grew to a group of 12 (if you count other friends who met up with us while there). I don't speak a lick of French but thankfully my friend Will Chen, who is also a Le Cordon Bleu graduate and phenomenal chef, does.
When Will posed the question 'Do you want to eat at a 3-Michelin Star restaurant, of course I said "yes." If you don't know too much about Michelin Stars for restaurants consider them the finest, most complicated, most coveted and most sought after ratings and reviews for fine dining establishments in the world. To compare it to Yelp is a slap in the face, but for those who haven't heard of it before here's a what food and travel expert Akila McConnell said to define what the Michelin Star meant to restaurants: "The term "Michelin Star" is a hallmark of fine dining quality and restaurants around the world... The anonymous restaurant reviewers generally are very passionate about food, have a good eye for detail and have a great taste memory to recall and compare types of foods. Each time a reviewer goes to a restaurant, they write a thorough memorandum about their experience and then all the reviewers come together to discuss and decide which restaurants will be awarded stars."
Ultimately, Michelin awards 1-3 stars to restaurants deemed worthy. Word is that Chefs including Gordan Ramsay cry when they receive and sometimes lose their Michelin star. If you want to learn more watch the movie "Burnt" starring Bradley Cooper for a simple story about trying to obtain a Michelin star-rated restaurant.
Anyway, now on to this dinner. L'Arpege is located in Paris and the Chef and Owner of this haute restaurant is famed Alain Passard. Known for taking fresh garden grown ingredients and utlizing them in a creative and innovative way, L'Arpege holds 3-Michelin stars and is also dubbed as one of the World's Best 50 Restaurants. Located within sight of the Eiffel Tower this unassuming restaurant is known for it's vegecentric food and maintaining the 3-Michelin stars since 1996.
We enter and it's warm and cozy inside. Each table is set with white linens and topped with a candle. The staff is young, some looked like they were teenagers, but they were welcoming and polite. Most of the table ordered the Tasting Menu and my self and one other ordered the Vegetable Tasting Menu. You can order ala carte (for $90 an entree) but hey this is a once in a lifetme experience that is going to cost me around $450 so I will just go for it.
Here's a look at the meal:
Overall the canapes (not photographed) were outstanding, they were litle bits of tasty goodness served on potato crisps topped with differnt toppings a good starter.
Then you move on to the classic dishes and some aimed at being innovative and unique, but then everything seems just repetitive without any transformation of the ingredients. There are a few hits but some misses that make me feel like the stars of the show are those classic dishes that have been served for decades.
In the end, the experience was good, but not great. Going into it thinking you're going to eat at a 3-Michelin star restaurant you would perhaps expect your mind to be literally blown at the end of the meal. The servers didn't all speak English and those who did had a bit of a strange sense of humor. It was a comical to watch. There was also the chef in the kitchen clearly firing courses and sending the dishes out who seemed very stressed and frantically looking through the kitchen window at the tables and running back and forth, that was entertaining.
The servers are presumptious and at times appear a bit snooty, but that could just be the French thing. They were attentive in the beginning but it started to tapper off toward the end. We left full and happy but not super impressed. I would say it was a great experience but I wouldn't return. I am thankful I had the opportunity to try the restaurant, meet the chef and experience haute French cuisine in the heart of Paris!