Maui: Hyatt Regency Ka’anapali

Time sure flies when life is happening, eh? Things are a little crazy right now, which means certain things fall by the wayside. Like the blog, for instance. Gotta live life to write about it, right?

Back to Hawaii (and remember, I’m going in chronological order): let’s talk about the hotel. We left the perfect beach at Mama’s Fish House and raced back across the island in our Camaro with the top down (living the fancy life!), inhaling the island air, and excited to see our hotel home for the week — the Hyatt Regency Maui on Ka’anapali Beach.

Anish can sure pick ‘em! What a gorgeous hotel. The Hyatt is one in a line hotels that sit on a three mile stretch known as Ka’anapali Beach, all connected by a stone pathway on the oceanside. From the Hyatt all the way down to Black Rock, you can walk along this beautiful path from hotel to hotel. It was perfect for sunset walks with a clear view of the ocean and the island of Lana’i.

The hotel has five restaurants, a mini mall in the hotel (with a Macy’s and everything), penguins (!!), a spa, and a humongous swimming pool. That was my favorite part — the pool! With two sections separated by a cave and grotto, it was the best place to spend a day. It also helped that servers came around quite often asking if we’d like something. “Pina colada, please! And maybe fried green beans with wasabi mayo too…” Oh yes, I LOVED it.

Our hotel reservation included breakfast every day at Swan Court, which happened to literally be a restaurant on the hotel’s pond where its resident swans live, along with 100+ small birds who would wait like hawks for a diner to abandon their plate and then BAM. Swarm of birds on one unsuspecting plate.

We had a partial ocean view from our room, so we could see both mountain and beach from our lanai (balcony). Our room was massive and gorgeous. We settled right in, threw on our bathing suits, and went out to explore.

Our first afternoon there was spent hanging out by the pool and working on ‘relaxing.’ First thing on the agenda: we deleted all the social media apps from our phones. After posting a “We’re in Hawaii!!!” post, we said goodbye to social media and our constant phone checking (the worst habit), and got ready for a week on Hawaii.

The next day, Monday, was our designated Road to Hana day, and Tuesday was… well, you know. ;)

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View from our room!

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The atrium in the main building.

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The pool! Pretty terrible view, huh? ;)

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Pool basketball and a cave to swim in?? Awesome!

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Oceanside view from the hotel. Lana’i just across the way.

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The flowers were incredible!

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Swan Court Restaurant from across the pond.

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See the little birds?? Waiting to pounce!

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And because there always needs to be a food photo, especially when there’s an all-you-can-eat breakfast every morning.

Maui: Mama’s Fish House

The most consistent piece of advice we got from everyone before our trip was, “Go to Mama’s Fish House.” We always take restaurant suggestions very seriously, so we kept this item at the top of our list. When we got into the car in Kahului, I immediately turned to Anish and said, “Mama’s for lunch?” We had plenty of time before check-in at the hotel and a fresh seafood lunch sounded ideal. He agreed, so we called ahead to make a last minute reservation for lunch.

Because Anish’s sister Diya is THE BEST, she’d sent us a gift card for our Mama’s meal for my birthday. Thank youuu, Diya! We pulled in to the parking lot at Mama’s, let the valet guy take our car (complimentary!), and walked down the gorgeous path to the Mama’s Fish House cove.

WOW. The location is seriously incredible. It’s a restaurant with its own cove and beach surrounded by palm trees, bathed in sun, and cooled by the sea breeze. We were grinning like fools at this point and staring at each other like, “Can you believe this is real?” 5 hours earlier we were in the overcast Bay Area and now, we were standing barefoot in the warm sand on a private beach in Hawaii. Life is crazy.

We wandered around for a few minutes, taking photos and breathing in the island air, before heading over to the hostess station to tell them we were there. They sat us in a huge booth facing the beach and we immediately ordered tropical beverages. When in Hawaii, right? Another piece of advice we got about Mama’s… “Get the Ho’okipa Sunrise!” It’s a cocktail made with Stoli Citrus Vodka, pineapple, lime and Creme de Banana, i.e. DELICIOUS. I understand why our beloved Minards were raving over it.

For lunch, we shared everything so we could try more things, like a good foodie couple. ;) Here’s what we got:

  • Hawaiian Ceviche: Uku (a local fish) with mango, kaffir lime, spicy Maui chili pepper and cilantro with breadfruit & sweet potato chips. — THIS DISH WAS HEAVEN. We were drooling over it and gobbling it up, while saying to each other with stuffed mouths, “Mama’s was worth it JUST FOR THIS.”
  • Grilled Maui He’e (octopus) caught by Rogelio Balala diving offshore from Spreckelsville. — Also delicious and super tasty. We loved having the details of who caught the fish and where. Local at its best.
  • Ono (another local fish) caught by James DeBussey trolling near Keanae, seared in a Hana ginger-panko crust with Kalua pig fried rice. — Pig fried rice?? Panko crust? Yes, this dish was an easy choice for us. We ordered the fish at the recommended medium-rare cooking, and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The fresh ginger gave it a great flavor.

By the time we finished all that and I’d had another drink – this time a creamier one, Pina Colada style, but with a cacao liqueur – we were stuffed and couldn’t get dessert. Not a big deal and we were happy with what we’d had, and still craving more of that ceviche.

After eating, we went back out to the beach and put our feet into Hawaii’s Pacific for the first time. Ahh….

Overall, the food was fantastic and worth the hefty island price (pretty much the norm at all the restaurants we went to). If you go to Maui, EAT AT MAMA’S. Get the ceviche and the Ho’okipa Sunrise. You’ll thank me later.

We left Mama’s cove feeling full and happily on vacation. We were ready to zip across the island to the west side to see our gorgeous hotel and the beaches of Ka’anapali for the first time.

I was completely unaware that Anish had a ring hidden in his pocket and special plans for the days ahead…

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Just look at this place! Such a lovely, private setting.

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10 minutes of sunshine and I’m a happy girl. Add this view? Over the moon…

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Mama’s beach!

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The gorgeous island decor of the restaurant.

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Pleased as punch to be on vacation together.

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Thank you Diya for the gift card!

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Best ceviche of my life. And those breadfruit chips? Surprisingly fantastic.

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Grilled octopus!

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The main dish – so good!

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Vacation! Makes me smile to think that I had no idea what was coming later that week… :)

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Hello Hawaii — now on to the hotel!

Maui: Arrival

Because Anish is the greatest significant other in the [my] world, he surprised me with a trip to Hawaii for my 25th birthday. I honestly still can’t believe it, but it was definitely, wonderfully real, and two weeks ago we took off from the San Jose International Airport on a Hawaiian Airlines flight headed for Maui! Little did I know, the trip was much more than a birthday celebration, but more on that later. (Oh yes, you gotta wait!)

Mini Hawaiian Airlines review:

– Loved: comfortable seats, super sweet staff, meal (!) on the flight, complimentary rum punch before landing in Hawaii, and the general relaxing Hawaiian vibe.

– Not such a fan of: no TVs or entertainment — you have to purchase one of their tablets to use for the duration of the flight ($20); lack of flight options from SFO resulting in our departure from San Jose and return to Oakland.

Overall, great flight experience, and finally after 5 hours crossing the Pacific (blue everywhere - a little nerve-wracking), we drifted down below the clouds and there was Maui. An island in the middle of a never-ending ocean. Lush, green mountains, white sand beaches, rolling blue-green waves. We could see it all as we landed in the valley at Kahului Airport.

After a dicey early morning trip to the airport where nerves were a little high and tempers were a little hot (eh-hem, me), we were finally settling in to vacation mode and plain giddy with excitement by the time we landed.

We sailed off the airplane into the quaint Kahului airport, taking our time (no more city life rushing!), grabbing a coffee, and then stepping out into the warm, salty air of the island. Man, I can’t explain that feeling I always get when I’m on vacation or arriving somewhere I love. It’s a deep breath that goes down in my very soul. An “ahhh” feeling when all my usual tensions start melting away. It took me a few days to settle into vacation mode.

At Hertz, we opted for the rental car upgrade keeping the Road to Hana in mind, and left the airport riding in style with our black convertible Camaro. Ohhh yeahhhh.

First thing on our very-flexible-vacation-to-do-list (I can’t stop making lists, even on vacation): the famous Mama’s Fish House for lunch. That’s when the fun and the food started.

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Good morning pretty Hawaiian plane!

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You see what I mean??? This is just the view from the airplane. Holy smokes, Maui is gorgeous.

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I’m so fancy… and grinning ear-to-ear in the background. Ridin’ in style.

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Our first impression of Maui at Mama’s Fish House. HOLY CRAP it’s so beautiful, right?? Still can hardly believe places like this exist.

 

It’s Official

One week ago yesterday, Anish asked me to marry him at sunset on a romantic beach in Maui, and of course, I said yes! We’re the happiest we’ve ever been and so thrilled for the exciting things to come!

Details to follow soon, and you know I’ll tell the story. For now, we’re on cloud nine and enjoying sharing the news with friends and family. 

– Taylor

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Connecting The Hundred

I didn’t think much about my decision to attend The Hundred Event in Dallas. I woke up one morning and scrolled through social media, as you do, and saw Lauren’s post about the event. It’s unusual for me to make such a rash, split second decision, but I purchased a ticket and a week later, had my flight ready to go. Hello first blogger conference. It only cemented my confidence in the decision when Grace, Megan, and Bridget posted about it later that same day.

It was only a few weeks later, when August was just around the corner, that I started to get nervous. Whoa, what had I signed myself up for? Who was I going to meet? Would I make friends? Was it totally crazy? For once in my life, I let those thoughts go away and prepared myself with a low to no expectation feeling about the weekend. It would be what it would be. “It is what it is,” as my Mom likes to say.

So I flew to Dallas last Friday morning and arrived at the Warwick Melrose Hotel with some semi-cute outfits, little sleep from the night before, and no expectations. I checked in and dropped my stuff off in my exquisite room (humongous king bed and all), before heading downstairs to check in.

That’s when everything started to fall into place. The elevator doors opened and across the lobby was the check-in table with four familiar faces standing there and getting set up. Four bloggers who I’d been reading for the last 2+ years apiece. Blogging’s funny, because you start to feel like you know people even when you don’t know know them. So I walked up, a bundle of nerves, and introduced myself to these women I felt like I knew.

They were exactly who I thought they’d be. And that small detail, the translation of blogger to women standing in front of me, that was it. Everything clicked in that moment. They were the four kindest souls and the most gracious hosts the entire weekend.

In that moment and later on, sitting at the airport waiting to go home, I realized why I’d gone there and what I needed…

Connection.

That’s it. It’s so simple and so hard. Connecting with people isn’t easy. The more things that have happened to you in your life, the harder it is. The older you get, the harder it is. You (I) start not wanting to let people in. To let them get too close. Or it’s just plain hard to find people that you connect with. The ones that get you, who listen to you, who offer you dedicated friendship and support, and give you the chance to give it back to them.

There I was, miles from home, in a city I’d never been to, surrounded by 100 people that I’d never met before, and what I found was connection.

I learned so many things over the course of the weekend during the workshops, sure. I listened to Curt Steinhorst talk about attention & distraction, to Annie Fitzsimmons detail her experiences in writing and travel, to experienced brands and bloggers discuss social media, to Jenni teach us photography 101, and to fashion bloggers & designers show us how to style clothes. I died and went to heaven during breakfast at Breadwinners, devoured some of the best pizza I’ve ever had at Il Cane Rosso, and ate the best patty melt of my life from Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe.

But all of that paled in comparison to the most important thing – the people. Lauren described the event as a way to bring people together. To learn together, to build relationships, and to enjoy a weekend away with good food and a fancy place to stay.

I met some of the most inspiring, genuine people in two days time, and even then, I didn’t have enough time to meet as many people as I would’ve wanted — because I just know that every single person was wonderful.

I met women from all over the country who, like me, had taken a chance. A common thread ran between us all — no matter where were from, or if we blogged, or if we ran a small business, or just really had no idea what we wanted in life.

We were all there with open hearts, and that was enough.

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Let me just say, Dallas was beautiful! I was thoroughly impressed with my first Texas city. I’m ready to visit Austin next…

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Our lovely hostesses: Lauren, Megan, Bridget & Grace!

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Sipping a fancy lemonade during our first meet-and-greet on Friday evening.

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So that’s how I look when I’m paying attention to something…

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These three! Some of the sweetest women you’ll ever meet: Sarah, Joanna, and Amber.

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Had the best weekend with them!

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It was amazing to get to meet the famous Grace Patton. If you don’t read her, you should. Really, you should read all four of the hostesses; I just didn’t get photos with any of the others!

The gorgeous shots above were taken by the sweet Paige of Awake Photography, along with a few of my own iPhone photos. ;)

If you want to read more about The Hundred, you better believe there are some amazing posts out there. Check out Grace’s link-up for all the links in one place.

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