The Road to Hana was a little stressful – I won’t lie. Even though it’s only 52 miles from the airport to Hana, the road takes an average of 2 ½ hours to drive in large part due to 59 bridges (46 of which are one-lane wide) and an incredible 620 curves, mostly hairpins. But for me there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the promise of quiet luxury at the was more than enough to keep me going.
The history of the hotel known today as the Travaasa mirrors the modern history of Hana itself. Paul Fagan, an entrepreneur from San Francisco, wanted to retire in Hana but the future of the town was in doubt due to a lack of jobs in the area. Paul believed Hana held tremendous potential as a tourist destination and so he and his wife developed a first class, luxury hotel – the Ka’uiki Inn. The Inn opened in 1946, but just because they had built it didn’t mean anyone would actually come. To solve this problem, Fagan developed an ingenious idea. He co-owned a baseball team and brought them to Hana and the hotel for the 1947 Spring Training season. Along with the team came an army of reporters and that is how word of this idyllic retreat first reached the masses.
The inn eventually evolved into the Hotel Hana-Maui and became known as a world-class destination for travelers and celebrities looking to get away from it all. Over time the hotel expanded and changed hands a few times, finally becoming part of the Travaasa family of resorts.
Today it’s still known as a luxury retreat, but it’s much more than that. Spending time in Hana is about unplugging, detaching and relaxing. It’s about health and being outdoors, and absolutely everything at the Travaasa is designed towards maximizing all of this.
I needed a Diet Coke; that was my first concern as the GPS said I was approaching Hana. I almost missed the hotel, the sign and entrance are low key, Hawaii at its best. I didn’t know what to expect and was shocked and thrilled when the bellman’s golf cart (the preferred mode of transportation at the hotel) dropped me off at my own bungalow. Yes, bungalow. Just below I could hear the waves crash and I looked up to see the towering palm trees swaying in the Maui breeze. It seemed like a million miles from anywhere and I couldn’t have been happier.
I had just survived an intense week at a major professional conference and the endless meetings, sessions and events had left me without a voice and absolutely exhausted. I needed to recharge and I was at the best place in the world to do it.
As I walked through my home for the next two nights I was beside myself; everything was just so nice. Then I looked past the small sofa and noticed the spacious lanai overlooking the ocean, including a private hot tub. Yes, this would do nicely.
I said that Travaasa helps people unplug, and I meant it. There is no Wi-Fi available in the bungalows, there aren’t any TVs or radios and the only air conditioning is provided by massive sliding doors and the cool trade winds. And you know what? I didn’t miss any of these modern distractions at all. It was hard at first, I won’t deny it, to be without my beloved Internet, but I quickly got into a rhythm and didn’t mind being unavailable for once.
The Travaasa is also well known as a premium health retreat, and even has one of the highest rated spas in the world. During the day the staff offers a wide variety of activities to keep guests entertained, from morning yoga sessions to lei making lessons and even ukulele classes. Hana is also a great base to explore nearby Haleakala Naitonal Park and more of the famous Road, but it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing.
The town has a few restaurants, the best being at the Travaasa itself. The focus on healthy living extends to the dining options with delicious but healthy meals that even include the calories on the menu, just in case you were wondering. For the ultimate in relaxation though, the Travaasa spa is not to be missed.
The spacious spa is its own little world, a haven of pampering and luxury in what is already a luxurious setting. I made sure to arrive early in order to take advantage of the extra perks, namely the steam room and cold plunge pool. Already entering into a zone of Zen-like peace, the massage itself was the icing on the proverbial cake. My mind and legs were jelly by the time I left in a haze of euphoric bliss. I just felt good, damned good, to be there, at that moment.
That’s ultimately what Hana and the Travaasa are all about – enjoying what one of those 1940s sports reporters called “Heavenly Hana” and to discover a quiet little spot of paradise untouched by any of the annoyances of modern life.