March 24th, 2010
The ultimate staycation required me to go no further than the neighboring island, literally. Not even as far away as Big Island. We hopped over to Kauai for a couple nights. It was my first trip alone with my husband in a year and a half. Our daughter is two. It was a bit overdue.
I'm sure you know the drill if you, too, have small children. Our existence has fallen into a comfortable routine, but the days are when we're at our best, so by late afternoon when he comes home from work, Claus and I are both brain-tired. We're not necessarily grumpy, but we're not about talking and sharing. We're about communication for efficiency, and we're still staying on the routine.
We play with Olivia together outside, or he'll take her for a run in the jogging stroller while I finish cooking dinner. I'm usually too tired to focus on anything that requires thinking. I've tried to file bills or even blog, and I can't. I look at the computer and end up surfing Facebook. I know I'm useless after a certain point.
When the opportunity came about that we had some extra babysitter time plus willing grandparents, we snapped it up and booked a stay at St. Regis Princeville. Kauai is my favorite island to visit (a close second is Maui), and I'd been quite curious about the newly rebranded Princeville resort.
It got a lot of buzz for being the legendary brand’s first resort in Hawaii, and opened in October 2009 following a multi-million dollar renovation. So it was planned: three days and two nights at St. Regis. Exciting!
Wouldn't you know it, but the movie I saw the night before was Changeling. Have you seen it? Angelina Jolie plays a mother who searches for her kidnapped and murdered child. It's based on a true story. It's totally depressing. It was so intense and sad at times that I had to get up and walk to the kitchen. Hits too close to home, as a mother of a young child myself. So of course, after the movie's over, I'm like, "I don't want to go anymore." Claus laughed. "It'll be fine."
Claus flies planes as a hobby. His friend John flies planes for a living. John let Claus pilot us to Kauai, and then took the plane back to Oahu himself. Hating commercial air travel as I do, I said yes. Sitting in a small twin engine plane can get very hot and bumpy - and I can get airsick - but that just tells you that I hate the lines and the TSA rules even more. I took on a full 16 oz. water bottle on my flight. HA!
Of course, as we approached Kauai, I hear the guys semi-joking about an incoming jumbo jet. "Let's make sure to avoid that guy," they said. It was also storming. "Let's fly under the clouds so we don't get disoriented and smash into a mountain," they said. I'm in the back slightly nervous.
I called Paul Drewes when we landed to ask how long the storm would last, and I mentioned this little conversation I overheard. He laughed. "You could get him back. Just tell him you think you're pregnant again."
So I did. "Oh, you think you're so funny," said Claus.
"That's Paul's idea," I deflected.
"Surrre. Blame the pregnancy thing on Paul," he said. Pause. "Wait. That came out wrong."
I have a friend in Lihue, Elton Ushio. He's the reason I like Kauai so much. Over the years, he's hosted me and my friends on a handful of wonderful eco-tours. With him, we've gone sailing, diving, snorkeling, hiking, spear fishing, and to Niihau.
We had lunch with him, and of course, he knows all the good spots. We tried a new one, Pho Kauai. Good food, good prices. Don't forget the iced coffee with condensed milk. Sinfully good.
There was a lot of traffic through Kapaa, both to and from Princeville. If you go, budget an extra 20 minutes for the slowdown.
It took us about 45 minutes to reach the resort, which is on the north shore of the island. "Built on historic grounds beside the emerald green Hanalei Valley and overlooking the awe-inspiring Napali Coast, The St. Regis Princeville Resort is surrounded by five majestic mountains, a patchwork of taro farms, a wildlife refuge, equestrian paths and hiking trails," sums up the press release.
Photo courtesy St. Regis
As new guests, we were greeted with orchid lei at the port cochere, and after an efficient check in, led to our room. There are 252 rooms, and we were booked in one of the 51 rooms with an ocean view. The bellman gave us a quick orientation for the room.
At the risk of sounding like a hick, I've never seen this feature before: our bathroom had a window which you could make opaque for privacy. If you left it transparent, you could see through the room and clear out the window. A shower with a million-dollar view. If you flicked on the switch, it turned frosted white. Cool!
After we unpacked we decided to tour the grounds: the infinity swimming pool, the bar, the spa, the exercise room, the visiting vendor in the lobby. It's a beautiful and compact property, easy to navigate.
Photo courtesy St. Regis
We decided to take a jog. We ran a two mile loop around the golf course. It's too bad we're not golfers, because "The St. Regis Princeville offers access to two premiere 18- hole golf courses, including the Prince and Makai designed by Robert Trent Jones, II. The championship Makai Course is also undergoing a major renovation to be completed in March 2010," according to the press kit.
At 6 p.m., I had a one hour massage, so Claus ran another few miles while I got rubbed by a guy named Pete, who I would now highly recommend to you. Great hands, sincere personality. I actually wobbled a little as I walked down the hall after the massage.
At 8, we made dinner reservations at a hot Hanalei tapas restaurant called Baracuda (pronounced Bar, like wine bar - a play on words). Good eats, but if your budget is tight, maybe go grab a burger first so you can let the flavors at Baracauda roll around on your taste buds.
We were seated outside and it started to pour, so the outermost table moved all the way in. We had dinner company, a nice couple from San Francisco. The wife owns a hair waxing salon specializing in Brazilian waxing. We ended up talking about pubic hair over dinner. The husbands were both used to this- that's her line of work to deal with crotches all day, and mine to be able to casually discuss anything.
So that was our first day on vacation. Loved it. Couldn't wait to see what was in store for us the next day.
You can also reach me at Diane@DianeAko.com