Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Tips for Travel Planning with TripAdvisor

Trip-Advisor-logo2

Whenever I’m planning a trip, I make extensive use of TripAdvisor.com to figure out which hotel I want to stay in, what interesting things I want to put on my to do list and how to handle some of the finer points of logistics of traveling.

For instance, when I planned my trip to Maui last year, I read many complimentary reviews and critical reviews of the property I was interested in staying at. TripAdvisor even has a way to filter out reviews for travelers who are similar to you.  I generally check out what Families have to say since that is who I am usually traveling with. A business traveler often has different needs — for instance, no requirements for a kid friendly pool or activities!  I also noticed that they have added “Time of Year” as a filter since that is also critical–high season travel will often be crowded and you want to know if the resort has sufficient amenities to accommodate all travelers!

TripAdvisorReviewFilters

Another great feature of TripAdvisor is the FORUMS! I love being able to ask other travelers questions and I’ve picked up some amazing tips here. For instance, one of the most memorable parts of my trip to Italy was visiting the Vatican. It was in the forums that I learned about the Scavi tour, a little known underground tour of the Vatican catacombs. This was an amazing experience and one that I would have never read about in a guidebook.

I’ve also been able to ask on the forums about how train strikes work in Europe. Again, on our trip to Italy, train personnel were scheduled to strike on a particular day. We were scheduled to travel to Switzerland on that day and I was wondering if the train would make it to Switzerland or if it would stop at the specified time, or if they would stop at the closest station and walk off the job. The wonderful contributors on the forums assured me that my train would make it to Switzerland and it did!

I always try to write up a review of the hotel I stayed in — particularly if I’m able to help out another traveler. I just feel like its a great way to pay it back to the community that helped make my trip a success!

Maui for Toddlers – Wailea

In my last post, I talked about our stay in Kahului and Ka’anapali/Lahaina parts of the island.  In this post, I’ll talk about the Wailea part of our stay.

We stayed at the amazing Andaz Maui resort. This is one of the newest resorts in Wailea, having opened in the fall of 2013. I love that it is a smaller resort so it feels more intimate and the staff are all really friendly (only about 200 rooms!).

Andaz Maui Lobby

Lobby at the Andaz Maui

After being greeted with a lei upon arrival, we were upgraded to an ocean view room that was beautiful and modern. The room was all set with a crib when we arrived which was fantastic!  The room was big enough to hold the crib and still walk around but it wasn’t super spacious. As an extra special touch, they provided some baby bath products and a little rubber ducky! The only thing to note is that my room did not have a bathtub though it had an enormous rain shower and sprayer. I do know that some of the larger rooms have a deep tub, if you need that for your little ones. My little one is just fine with a shower so it wasn’t an issue for us.

Andaz Maui Ocean View Room

View from Our Andaz Maui Room

Andaz Maui Ocean View Room

Andaz Maui Ocean View King Room

Baby Bath Toiletries at the Andaz Maui

Baby Bath Toiletries at the Andaz Maui

There are 3 infinity pools and a larger one with a beach entry on one side (it gradually slopes down) and on the other wide there is a wide ledge that is 7″ deep. Both sides were great for toddlers! My daughter liked splashing on the ledge but she really loved playing in the main pool. I just had to keep reminding her that it was going to get deep as she was chasing her toys around.

Andaz Maui Beach Entry Pool

Andaz Maui Beach Entry Pool

The nice thing about having so many pools is that everyone seems to be able to find a spot. I was a little worried that we would be the only people with kids, by there were quite a few families hanging out by the big pool, leaving the infinity pools more peaceful for the adults to enjoy. There were also a few pool toys that the hotel staff brought out like boogie boards and noodles.  The only downside is that there are a lot of stairs to get down to the main pool since the resort is built into a hill and each pool is down a flight of stairs.

The beach does get a bit crowded because it isn’t super wide, but there still seemed like there was enough room for everyone to have a beach chair and umbrella.

We we brought a toddler floatie which she enjoyed playing in. We tried to get her to swim by reaching forward and kicking. She was able to propel herself forward that way. I think she’s still a little too small for the puddle jumpers (the recommended weight starts at 30lbs) but I bet by next year we can probably do the puddle jumper to try to get her to swim.

There is a kids club for kids 5-12 that is free during the day (9-3) but $30/hr from 3pm onwards. I saw them hanging out one of the mornings in the pool and they were having a blast with the staff member running the program.

The hotel has a few SUVs that it will use to take you anywhere in the Wailea resort area (and pick you up!).  There are some great restaurants in the Kihei area that are pretty affordable.  On the resort, the restaurant options are a little pricey.  We opted to eat lunch by the pool and then we went to Kihei for dinner a few nights and we splurged at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant on two nights.

Bumbye Bar Poolside Dining at the Andaz Maui

Bumbye Bar Poolside Dining – Enough to share for a light lunch

We had only planned on eating there one night, but it was so delicious, we had to go back! :-)  There were lots of kids at Morimoto’s when we were dining (we opted to eat early, at 5:30).  Just be aware that the kids options are pretty limited and quite pricey as there is no real kids menu–its just a few kid friendly options from the main menu.  My little one had Morimoto’s ramen chicken soup ($16) both nights and she devoured it.  The broth was AMAZING, but the parent in me wished there were some vegetables in the soup!  It was literally ramen, a little bit of chicken breast and soup.  They even made little trainer chopsticks (rubberbanded 2 chopsticks together with some paper in between) though my little one is still too young to use them.  It was a nice touch for younger guests who are still learning to use chopsticks!

Morimoto Maui

Morimoto Maui

Chirashi at Morimoto Maui

Chirashi at Morimoto Maui

Incredible sunsets at the Andaz Maui

Incredible sunsets at the Andaz Maui

Maui for Toddlers – Kahului, Ka’anapali and Lahaina

Aloha! We just came back from beautiful Maui. I wanted to do a few posts on Maui with a toddler as I had a really hard time finding information specifically aimed at the toddler set.

It was our first time to Maui and we stayed a night by the airport since we got in late at night and wanted to get our little one to bed as soon as possible. There is a Courtyard by Marriott hotel that is about 3 min away from the airport. They offer a free airport pickup on arrival in a private hotel van.  I had called ahead and asked for a crib/pack and it was all set in our room when we arrived which was great.

Courtyard by Marriott Kahului

Courtyard by Marriott Kahului

Courtyard by Marriott Kahului

Courtyard by Marriott Kahului

The hotel is in a great location, right across the street from Costco and Kmart if you need to pick up some essentials that you’ve forgotten. Costco also has some great fresh poke. The Limu one was especially delicious!  There is also a Walmart and Target nearby but not within walking distance. Both the Kmart and Costco had rash guards, swim suits and sand/water toys if you forgot your own or didn’t have space in your luggage!

Costco Kahului Fresh Poke

Costco Kahului Fresh Poke

After we picked up our rental car, we headed to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (aka the Sheraton at Black Rock) in Ka’anapali. The resort is enormous with over 500 hotel rooms. We were upgraded to a beautiful ocean view room on the 5th floor in tower 2. The room was definitely large enough for a crib.

Sheraton Ocean View Room

Sheraton Ocean View Room

Ocean View Room at Sunset

Ocean View Room at Sunset

On the side of the pool nearest to tower 2 (by the lawn), there is a great little section which is only knee deep, meaning that my 2.5 year old could stand and play without worry that it would get too deep. It’s not too big so it can get crowded if there are a lot of kids playing. You can see in the picture below that there is a barrier between the shallow section and the rest of the pool so the kids can’t wander off to deeper waters unknowingly.  The Sheraton can also provide a microwave for $30 (for your entire stay) if you need to heat up food for your kids.

Toddler Pool at the Sheraton Maui

Toddler Pool at the Sheraton Maui

The beach at the Sheraton is nice and wide, though it was a little windy when we were there.  We had fun digging in the sand and flying a Frozen themed kite we bought at Kmart.  For a $3 kite, it worked really well!!! My husband got the hang of it really quickly and was able to fly it quite high!  The Sheraton had beach chairs for rental for around $40 for the day.  We knew we would only be there an hour at most, so we brought our own beach mat to sit on.

The town of Lahaina has a nice long pedestrian stretch of stores and restaurants along Front Street.  There is a giant banyan tree park at one end of Front Street.  I read that it is over 150 years old and is the oldest banyan tree on Maui.  My little one loved chasing the pigeons around the branches.  It was a little tricky trying to make sure she didn’t run off, since the branches are only tall enough for little toddlers!

Banyan Tree Park Lahaina

Banyan Tree Park, Lahaina

While we were there, it happened to be Prince Kuhio’s birthday celebration and there was a free festival in the park with entertainment and vendors.  We watched an incredibly talented family consisting of a singing/drumming Father and 4 dancing kids.  My little one loved watching the kids dance!  There was also some food for purchase and lots of handmade arts and crafts items for sale in the park.

Kaniala Masoe and his beautiful keiki dancing Ulupalakua #PKF2015 #Lahaina #Maui #Hawaii

A video posted by Daryl Fujiwara (@sfdhawaii) on