The alarm chirps through the predawn silence of Hana, Maui, the room still night-sky dark with the blinds fully drawn. It's 5:45 a.m., and I'm reluctantly vacating my king bed for one of the Travaasa Hana's premier amenities: sunrise.
As the sun breaches the horizon, I sit on the deck of my oceanview bungalow and try to memorize the scene: the skinny palms shimmying in the breeze, the tangerine light over the water, the glowing clouds and electric-green grass. When I look around, I realize everyone else is on their balcony, too.
Set on the easternmost tip of Maui, two winding hours on the famous Road to Hana from the nearest other town, Travaasa Hana calls itself an "experiential resort." In practice, that means the laid-back, luxurious hotel with an all-inclusive option offers an expansive schedule of daily activities. There are cultural pursuits like lei making and bamboo-pole fishing, yoga classes in an open-air pavilion and adventure options like outrigger canoe lessons and horseback rides (for an additional fee). But it also means that just being here is an experience, and a vital part of that experience is Hana itself.
"One of the main things that's so special about Hana is our seclusion," said Travaasa spa and retail director Kauka Morton, who grew up in Hana. "Being away from the city and kind of out on our own, we're able to sustain ourselves on our own.
"Hana's very much a family-oriented community," Morton added. "Travaasa is a multigenerational resort. Lots of families and generations work there and have worked there from the beginning."
Inside the resort, that laid-back warmth and familiarity is extended to travelers, who get to feel like a part of someplace special, if only for a day or two. While many luxury resorts set themselves in spectacular locales, then seal themselves off from the outside world, the Travaasa footprint straddles local roads. Drive the 30 seconds from the main campus — with suites, restaurant, spa and office — to the oceanview bungalows with living rooms and soaking tubs, and you'll pass a baseball field, a community center and a historical church.
You could spend an idyllic vacation within the resort's elegant confines, but that would mean missing out on the Hasegawa General Store, founded in 1910, where the inventory includes fresh produce, hardware basics and cheesy souvenirs.
The Traavasa Hana is a gateway to those experiences and a base camp for exploration, but the local magic is infused throughout the resort, as well. In the spa, with its outdoor plunge pool and open-air showers, body wraps incorporate Hana honey, and every treatment ends with a spritz made by a local woman from flowers harvested on the property and salt water from Hamoa Beach.
At Preserve Kitchen + Bar, new chef James Watts has cultivated relationships with local fishermen and farmers, so the menu reflects the bounty right outside.
"Getting a 100-pound tuna delivered to the back door, that's something that doesn't happen everywhere," the chef said over a dinner of mahi-mahi. "Everything grows here. The land provides."
On my final morning at Travaasa, I wake in the dark for one more Hana sunrise and a breakfast of sweet, dense banana bread with passion fruit jam. I sit on my balcony and listen to the waves and try to absorb the screensaver-worthy view with my very pores. This is the Travaasa Hana experience, and it's one I won't forget.
Rates at the resort start at $525, double, a la carte or $1,025, double, meals included.