When people daydream about Maui, lavender probably isn't the first thing that pops into their minds. For some Hawaii tourists, however, a trip to the Valley Isle wouldn't be complete without a stop at Alii Kula Lavender.
First opened in 2002, the 13-acre farm has become a popular attraction thanks to its breathtaking, west-facing views of two Maui coastlines, fresh mountain air and an elegantly manicured collection of gardens and lavender fields.
The property's owner, master horticulturist Alii Chang, said designing an upcountry Maui farm that would attract folks with a relaxing, tranquil aesthetic was an important early goal.
"Living way up here at a 4,000-foot elevation, I asked myself, who is going to come out here and what's going to capture them?" Chang said. "So I decided, why not make it look appealing by making the landscaping nice and flowing and not like just a normal farm?
"To me, the presentation was very important, and now, of course, we can't stop people from coming up here."
Lavender fields forever
Visitors can take one of the farm's five daily walking tours and enjoy the stunning views while learning about lavender's history, uses and health benefits.
Self-guided farm tours are also an option with one of the facility's fact-filled maps, and a few times a day, Chang conducts tours on a motorized cart.
"When they come up, they get to touch, feel and smell," Chang said. "Visually they are looking at everything as they go around, and I always tell them, 'Touch a flower,' because when you touch the lavender it releases all its wonderful odors."
As they take in the natural beauty, guests can enjoy a cup of tea and one of the farm's famous lavender scones.
"I've got clients who make a special point of ordering lavender scones and sending them home now after ... trying them," said Hollis Davis, a travel counselor with the Portland, Ore.-area agency Julie's Travel Desk.
Davis, who has been selling Hawaii for 30 years, said she has thoroughly enjoyed her visits to Alii Kula Lavender.
"I think it's absolutely wonderful for clients to go up there and see a completely different perspective of the island and upcountry Maui," she said. "It's just excellent."
Guests at the farm will find a great deal more than just lavender scones in the property's gift shop. Chang and his business partner, Lani Weigert, have teamed up with more than 30 Hawaii-based companies to produce everything from lavender dark chocolate to lavender pet shampoo.
"Our business philosophy is based on the value of 'aloha,' " Weigert said. "And we found that it wasn't about competing with other companies in the state. It was more about being inclusive, so that we could compete beyond Hawaii."