Experiential Maui properties emphasize yoga and wellness

By Michelle Baran

Lumeria MauiAs the sun rises over the island of Maui, roosters begin to crow and guests at the 24-room Lumeria Maui, a yoga and wellness retreat that opened in March 2012, quietly head to the dining room for a healthy breakfast of yogurt, fruit, granola, hard-boiled eggs and whole wheat toast before making their way onto the central lawn for the morning's first yoga class.

Built in 1909, the buildings that house the Lumeria Maui have lived several very different lives (including as military housing during World War II and as a dormitory for pineapple workers). But in their current incarnation, they've been re-envisioned as a spiritual sanctuary where patrons come to cleanse, practice yoga, rest and relax.

Located two miles up the road from the sleepy surfer town of Paia on Maui's North Shore, Lumeria offers guests a very different experience from the big resorts that cling to the island's coast.

The property is nestled into a hill along a winding road among quaint residential homes and fields of sugarcane. Its cottage-like buildings have been painted in a deep turquoise in order to blend with the rich, edible landscaping.

At the entrance to the large main cottage, which harbors a library and plays host to meditation sessions and some indoor classes, there is a large, commanding crystal, which along with shoes resting outside the door, signals the property's ethos.

An on-site produce garden is overseen by chef Craig King, who creates juices and broths for clients who opt into Lumeria's cleansing program. He also makes a daily batch of mixed fruit juices, sold in large mason jars for $15 each.

The rooms are housed in two rows of cottages. Inside, they are bright and airy, with soaring ceilings and furnishings that marry Eastern influences with details that seem to salute the property's history, such as industrial light fixtures. The sanctuary setting continues into the bathrooms where the large showers feature textured river rock floors. The rooms have iPod docking stations but no TVs.

Lumeria MauiThere is no pool, but property owner Xorin Balbes said one is in the works. Guests can relax on lounge chairs that line the main lawn or on hammocks scattered throughout a forested area off to one side of the property. The Lumeria Maui is also in the process of building massage facility rooms, which will allow for more treatment options. At night, there are fire pits for keeping warm under the starry Maui sky.

Alternatively, guests can day-trip to any of the island's numerous beaches. Lumeria provides beach towels, and guests can arrange activities such as surfing or stand-up paddleboard lessons at the front desk for an additional charge. The private lessons are provided by a local instructor.

Visitors not opting into the cleansing program can dine at the on-site restaurant or drive to nearby Paia or Makawao for lunch or dinner with the locals at standbys like Paia Fish Market and Cafe Des Amis.

Guests can choose to engage in the health and wellness aspects of Lumeria as little or as much as they want. They can completely immerse themselves in a cleansing program and in the yoga classes and meditation offerings or simply use the property as a guesthouse and a base for their visit to the island. Regardless of how they choose to engage, the staff at Lumeria is friendly and approachable for tips on how to execute exactly the kind of stay they would like.

Whether it's Balbes himself suggesting his favorite hole-in-the-wall sushi joint in Makawao or the adorable housekeeper recommending an adventurous hike through a bamboo forest, Lumeria exudes a very positive and peaceful energy, fitting for the zen-like property it aspires to be.
Rates start at $299, including daily yoga classes, a light organic breakfast and daily meditation. Visit www.lumeriamaui.com.

Travaasa Hana

At the eastern tip of Maui, in the small town of Hana, Travaasa Hana is hoping to attract yogis and wellness seekers, too. But it also wants to woo a wider range of guests, including more men, families and couples.

Originally opened in 1947, the property was formerly the Hotel Hana-Maui. It reopened as Travaasa Hana in June 2011, the second property in the Travaasa Experiential Resorts collection, which includes the Travaasa Austin in Texas. The properties strive to provide guests with adventure, good and healthy cuisine, cultural engagement, fitness options and spa and wellness programs.

Travaasa Hana MauiThe 74-room property is beautifully situated above the rocky black bluffs that define Hana's shore. Up until recently, getting there meant making the two-hour drive along the wonderful, winding road to Hana. While the drive is fabled for its incredible scenery — a medley of tropical rain forests, cascading waterfalls and dramatic ocean views — for those who would rather get to Travaasa Hana more quickly and efficiently, the property recently inked a partnership with Mokulele Airlines to operate a twice-daily flight from Maui's Kahului Airport to Hana Airport.

The 20-minute service takes place aboard a nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft with ticket prices starting at $59 each way (www.mokuleleairlines.com).

Once there, guests will find a sprawling, lush property set in the quaint town of Hana. Travaasa Hana is hoping to attract a wide range of clientele with a wide range of activities, one of the defining features of the property.

For instance, in addition to yoga and fitness classes, the resort offers throw-net fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, coastal horseback rides, coconut husking, archery and biking, many of which are included in the nightly rate. There is also a kid-friendly section of the property and an adults-only section so that families and couples alike can enjoy their stay. As with Lumeria Maui, guests can engage or disengage as much as they choose in terms of the activities and entertainment options the resort offers.

And similarly to Lumeria Maui, there is an emphasis on serenity and solitude. Far from the hubbub of Maui's overrun tourist areas, Travaasa Hana is a quiet and peaceful property where the only sounds are those of the island breeze and the ocean crashing on the cliffs.

In keeping with that tranquil spirit, there are no radios or TVs in the property's 47 plantation-style Sea Ranch Cottages, which have private decks and Jacuzzis; 23 low-rise Garden View Suites; and four condos. When the property was acquired by Travaasa Experiential Resorts, the majority of the updating was in the hotel's operations and technical functions, with the decor and furnishing maintaining a vintage island resort vibe.

One of the special features of the resort is its unique location in the charming, small-town setting of Hana. Aside from Travaasa Hana's two dining venues, there is not a single Hana establishment open for dinner. It's just not that kind of place.

During the day, guests can stop at some of the small roadside stands that sell fresh produce, fish tacos and pork ribs en route to some of the national parks, nature walks, waterfalls and swimming holes in driving distance from the resort.

The people of Hana, a town where everyone knows everyone, truly exude the friendly and accepting aloha spirit. Their bright smiles and positive attitudes about life make it extremely difficult to cling to any of the stresses or anxieties patrons bring with them to Hana.

But for those who still can't seem to unwind, the Spa at Travaasa Hana offers an extensive menu of spa services in nine treatment rooms, including lomilomi, a traditional Hawaiian massage practiced by native healers. Guests also have access to an indoor/outdoor wellness center that has an outdoor lava rock whirlpool, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, a private garden, steam rooms and cold plunge pools.

Starting rates are $200 per night, which includes access to the daily schedule of activities. Visit www.travaasa.com/hana.

Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly
 

Michelle's Picks

Michelle BaranFish, cooked and raw: For excellent fish tacos, head to the Jawz trucks. There are several on the island, but the best combination of an isolated beach cove and nearby taco truck for snack runs is at Big Beach. For information and locations, see www.jawzfishtacos.com. For the best sushi at the most unassuming eatery, head to Makawao Sushi & Deli. It might look like a deli and tchotchke shop with sushi in the back, and it is! But the ahi poke and sushi rolls don't disappoint.

Stand-up paddleboarding lessons in Kihei: For those who want to try something different, easier and a bit less intimidating than surfing, head to Kihei for a private stand-up paddleboard lesson with Charlie Fleck of Blue Soul Maui. While paddling above the scenic coral reef, you might spot sea turtles swimming by or whales in the distance.

Oheo Gulch: Twelve miles past Hana is the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park, which includes the Oheo Gulch, also known as the seven sacred pools, a series of waterfalls and swimming holes. On a warm Maui day, a dip in the pools and some sunbathing on their surrounding warm rocks is a great way to rest and refresh.
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