March 21st is a special day for a lot of reasons. It’s the first day of Spring, it’s frequently Noruz (Persian New Year), and it is also my anniversary. So we celebrated with a positively relaxing spa treatment. Well, sort of…
Funny thing about a spa, it is entirely set up for you to relax in freed mind and body and really just let the worries of the world go. In fact, if ever there was a time for me to relax, this was it. I mean, you walk in and there’s this zen water-trickle music in the background and everything smells like what I’d expect relaxation to smell like if it was a scent instead of a state of being. Everyone speaks in slightly hushed voices to keep anything really harsh from happening from the moment you walk in. Once the host checked us both in and pointed me back towards the changing rooms I was feeling pretty good about the prospect of getting extended relaxation in. Ten minutes, a new robe and some fuzzy slippers later I was wistfully strolling through the rooms of the male spa area. Relaxing in this indoor rain forest/Jacuzzi farm ought to be a cinch. Well, ought to be, indeed.
So many ways to relax, what ever shall I choose? First up, a dip in the Japanese bubble spa. Tick, tick, tick…30 seconds pass…tick, tick, tick…no relaxation. Argh, let’s try the steam sauna, that should work. Open door, step in foggy sauna. Wait, a thought flashes in my head: *people get killed in horror movies in spas like this when the killer comes out*. But I sat back to bask in the relaxation and…cough…hack…inhale…jeez, what is my problem…deep breath…cough, cough…I couldn’t breathe through the lavender scented steam! Okay, not relaxing in here. Coughing and gasping through the lavender steam I stumble towards the door, catching my breath outside. Whew, that was…odd. Let’s try the pineapple sea salt bath. Hmm, this is nice.
*90 seconds later*
Well, okay, that was relaxing. I suppose. How about this shower that looks like something out of a war torture movie, yeah, that’s GOT to be relaxing. (Picture Rambo, First Blood Pt II) As I step in and sit down the water pounds down on my neck and shoulders. Okay, surprisingly this IS relaxing. And the pleasant acoustics in this part of the spa create a really loud ocean wave thing that drowns out my fleeting thoughts about the Maui public works channel I saw earlier in the week. Great, at least five minutes of constant relaxation that I didn’t think about at all. Now I’m getting it. One salt scrub and a dry sauna trip later and I am really hitting my relaxation stride. This deal at the Grand Wailea through Hawaiian Airlines isn’t bad.
To keep the relaxation going I pulled a Sheldon-esque maneuver and found the exact point of maximal acoustics and minimal foot traffic. Perfect. Aaaahhhhhhh. I think I may have lost the next 12 minutes or so in a state of deep zen no-mind. Then Mark, my spa tour guide snapped me into reality for my 45 minute facial with Malia. Unlike her more popular namesake, this Malia was a 50-something slender lady with pretty teeth and a calm Buddhist aura about her. Perfect. If anything will help me relax on the spa day, it’s a nice conversation with a thirty year resident of the islands to give me a nice picture of the socio-political issues on the island. Yep, that’s right, I decided to simply embrace that listening to Malia talk about real estate development, changing cultures, wanderlust, employer vs independent contractor status in her field and Italy was going to be my best way to relax. That, and she was rubbing all manner of salts and oils on my face for an hour. Worked like a charm! Came out of the facial feeling totally relaxed. The conversation itself won’t be interesting to anyone but me but suffice it to say that hearing Malia talk about places on the island and her experiences was a pleasant way to calm the constant motion in my head. Whew, relaxation rules!
Spa completed, it was off to complete the Spa Grande deal with $25 vouchers for lunch. Unfortunately, the only good thing about the Bistro Molokini in the Grande Wailea was this
Seriously, I hate writing negative things, but this was the worst food I had on the island. In fact, it might be the worst meal I’ve had at least in my 30’s. Some of that is because I expected more out of a place in such a nice hotel, especially after the all-star service in the spa. But for completeness of the story, we shared this
On its worst day, Flatbread Co (reviewed HERE) is many times better, cheaper, and sources from on island farmers. And having just come off a decent fish taco at Coconuts yesterday (post HERE), with the $8 you will save getting that one instead you can cover your drink or a tasty shave ice after. Yep, spa day was a hit, even if post spa day food was abysmal. I almost want to go to Amasia in the Grand Wailea just to see if another restaurant inside actually cares about their food. I can count the number of times I’ve said something bad about restaurant food on one hand. I usually prefer just to ignore food that is not good, if you can’t say something nice and all that, but on Maui you only have a handful of meals so I feel I really should save everyone I can from ordinary, or in this case just plain bad, eating experiences. The service, by the way, was pedestrian. She was pleasant, mostly attentive, and brought our food in a reasonable time. But she was like that blind date that isn’t bad, it just isn’t memorable or nice in any meaningful way. Again, normally not a big deal, but if you are going to charge $22 for fish tacos you ought to have really good service.
Swimming with turtles (yes, again)
After the spa and very bad lunch we decided to take one last snorkel trip down to Maluaka Beach. I’ll skip the theatrics and just say if you want to swim with sea turtles this seems to be the spot. We darn near bumped into one within five feet of us, then swam behind it for a bit–working much harder than he or she appeared to be working–before peeling off to catch our breath and relish the experience a bit. After the snorkel we got one more recommendation of a place to eat from a couple locals…Cafe o’lei again. Lunch for the next day was now settled. We’ve now been directed here from a tour guide, a high end restaurant server, a mixed plate server, the guidebook, native Hawaiians, tourists and transplants. Pretty much everyone raves about this place. I guess I know where last day lunch is to be had.
This last bit of snorkeling and chatting with locals was very cool, it was a great way to spend a portion of our anniversary. One last stop to round out the day, Nick’s Fish Market. So good I will write about it separately.
Odds and Ends from Day 9
Somehow I failed to write about my trip to the outdoor barbershop. Yes, I went to a barber to get a proper line up before celebrating a very important day. So I headed off to this spot
which turned out to be an outdoor barbershop attached to a mall. I had a delightful conversation with the barber, a woman who did a surprisingly good job with my cut. There are no photos of said cut, but if you look closely at this photo you can see both that it is outside and there is a surfboard on the wall.
I didn’t have high hopes but she made me feel very at ease and by the end I was quite pleased. So, Black men of America, when vacationing on Maui, please consider it safe to search out Cool Cuts if your wife or partner informs you that you are looking a bit raggedy. The only other adventure from the day was getting completely ripped off by two guys at a fruit stand on the side of the road. They didn’t force us to buy their coconuts, so I don’t want to knock their hustle by calling them out by name. But I will say that when the guidebooks tell you that you will get ripped off by dudes whose pricing signs look like their kids created them, trust the guidebooks and find a market. I took a little comfort in believing that the 1000% markup my my coconut drink was probably going to pay for something important…but it was very little comfort. Still, we were in Maui, how bad could it be, right?
Thanks for reading (return to index page)