Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Undeveloped in a wealthy Californian way, not a budget hippie commune way
Travaasa Hana, Maui's history reads like a recap of the baby-boomer generation. Born in 1946 when a Californian developer bought 14,000 acres of land for a ranch and six-room inn, it slowly expanded and developed a hippie ethos of sorts -- local, organic food, no clocks or TVs in rooms -- in the remote wilderness of East Maui. Under new owners, it emerged from a 2002 renovation as a hybrid of idealism and modern comforts: Guests can honor the earth's natural beauty and local community from the comfort of a Crate & Barrel-furnished room. At Travaasa Hana, Maui, you'll encounter a remote natural setting, a faithfulness to the local Hawaiian culture, freedom from modern conveniences -- and spiffy clean suites that are as big and well-furnished as those at any luxury Maui hotel. The service is arguably better than what other Maui luxury resorts deliver, and with only 70 units on the property, you won't bump into throngs of other guests thrashing around the pool or gym.
In the end, however, the location is everything, and it makes it or breaks it for visitors. Its secluded East Maui setting offers something not found anywhere else on the island: rainforest-like landscape along craggy coastal cliffs, with waterfalls and gulches within miles of the resort. For some, these surroundings, plus the resort's bare-bones technology (no TVs, alarms, air conditioning, or radios in the rooms), are worth the dizzying drive on Hana Highway's 37 miles of unyielding twists and turns. For others, the isolation, lack of direct access to a sandy, calm beach, and windier, rainier weather are enough to keep them on the other side of the island, basking in the unwavering sun with hundreds of others and sending the children off to the Xbox-filled rooms at the kids' club. For those who want it, this is an ideal blend of luxury and rustic.
Specialized treatment for every guest with a laid-back, local vibe
Guests are truly honored here, but it's as if your grandmother is taking care of you, not a servant in a stiff uniform. The service is as good as you'll find at Maui's top luxury resorts: instant name recognition, a slew of free services, handwritten welcome notes, and fruit and snacks in the room. But the familiar staff -- some employees are second and third generation Hana employees, and your bellman's brother might be playing the music at the bar -- provides such hospitality so naturally that the word service never crosses your mind.
On Maui's wild side; reachable via the beautiful but harrowing drive on Hana Highway or on a 20-minute plane ride from Kahului Airport to Hana
Hana is in East Maui, on the island's windward coast, and is reachable by a highway that's the island's most beautiful road -- and the most difficult to drive. Guests can also opt to fly to Hana Airport from Kahulaui, a 20-minute flight on an 8-seater plane. The hotel will provide this airfare complimentary when you book a package. This side of the island is greener, wetter, and windier than most of Maui, where almost all resorts stick to the leeward coast for its far dryer, more consistent weather. The Travaasa Hana, Maui wouldn't be what it is without its verdant, unspoiled natural surroundings (and Hana wouldn't be much without the hotel). The hotel isn't a beach resort in the tradition of most Maui hotels: It overlooks the ocean but its nearest swimmable beach is about 10 minutes by car, and guests are likely to spend as much time driving and hiking to the natural landmarks along the coast as going to the beach.
No direct beach access; the hotel runs shuttles to Hamoa Beach, about 10 minutes away, or guests can drive.
Though the resort is located on Hana Bay, the property is on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with no direct path to the beach or the water. Instead, the resort provides a free shuttle back and forth to Hamoa Beach, a beautiful but rugged sandy beach with rough waves. There are other beaches in the area (most are secluded, and conditions along all East Maui's beaches are generally rough), but the resort provides services and shuttles only to Hamoa Beach.
Huge, comfortable bungalow and cottage suites with modern décor -- all unplugged
Travaasa Hana, Maui's single-story cottages house everything from junior suites to three-bedroom, two-bath suites. All the units are spacious and every bit as modern (and large) as the rooms at a top Hawaiian luxury hotel like the the Fairmont Kea Lani are, but with one huge difference: no electronics (unless you count the coffeemakers that brew the organic Kona coffee that's provided). As the hotel website explains: "To preserve your tranquility, all rooms at Travaasa Hana are television and radio free." So guests will find nothing more than room phones to disrupt their peace.
Tons of low-key amenities spread across the sprawling property.
Half the fun of being in Hana is exploring the area's lush verdant landscape and stunning coast -- inland hikes to the area's many waterfalls, gulches, and springs, or outings to find the many hidden beaches. That said, guests who tire of natural beauty (or just want a break from challenging Hana Highway driving) will find plenty to do on-site. With two pools, tennis courts, a fitness center, shops, and one of Hawaii's best spas, it offers nearly as much as any other Maui mega-resort. Spread over a huge property with less than a quarter of the typical number of guests rooms, the amenities here feel far less crowded and overwhelming than at most Maui resorts. The all-inclusive package includes three meals daily and a $125 resort credit per person per day, which can be used toward spa treatments and private classes.
Guests receive free access to the gorgeous spa's expansive on-site facilities.
The Spa at Travaasa Hana, Maui, the newest addition to the resort, was completed in 2004. The treatment rooms, which all face the grounds, have their own private lounges as well as treatment areas. The reasonably priced treatments include a variety of massages and specialized body treatments: An aquatic therapy pool is one of only two in Hawaii, and massage options include a variety of special techniques. Hotel guests can use the facilities for free without buying a treatment.
Suited for outdoorsy families
The kind of family that goes camping could have a field day here. Parents and kids over the age of 16 can spend the day hiking to waterfalls or exploring the coast's hidden beaches -- and then retreat to huge, comfortable rooms, order room service, and lounge by the pools. But just like on a camping trip, there's no TV for entertainment, and the low-tech resort doesn't have an Xbox-filled kids' club, or a kids' club at all. Instead, they arrange excursions and outdoors activities.
Like a diamond in the rough, Travaasa Hana, Maui's property shines, despite the wild, natural surroundings. Guests are warned to close screens in the rooms to keep out pests like ants, but even things like insects, rainy, windy weather, and a humid climate don't seem to make a mark on the hotel. You're in the wilderness when you come to East Maui, but you don't have to think about it while you're eating or sleeping at the Travaasa Hana, Maui.
Excellent cuisine uses fresh ingredients from local fishermen and Maui farms.
Travaasa Hana, Maui emphasizes local (and often organic) ingredients -- produce from upcountry and East Maui farms, locally caught fish, and Hana-raised beef -- and dishes are of gourmet quality with an island twist on most preparations. The hotel has only one restaurant, and options are slim outside the hotel. But the variety and quality of dishes is likely to keep most guests happy, so long as they're not expecting BLTs and pizza, and they're not expecting to eat on the cheap. Ka'Uiki, the hotel's restaurant, has a genuinely awesome menu that features local produce, locally caught fish, and beef from the Maui Cattle Company. It serves three meals a day and dishes are a bit pricey. All-inclusive packages are available; it includes three meals, all snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages. There are a few restaurants nearby; Hana Ranch restaurant serves typical pub food and Nutcharee’s Authentic Thai Food has dishes like crispy opaka and pad thai.
Superb food and many stunning and secluded wedding locations -- including two nearby churches -- but the hotel can be difficult and expensive to reach
The Travaasa Hana, Maui overlooking Hana Bay delivers rustic luxury in the middle of Maui's lush, secluded east coast. Guests can expect incredible service, a top spa, excellent food, a long list of stuff to do, and only 70 rooms on acres of uncrowded property. The rooms are large, clean, sleekly furnished -- and stripped of TVs, air conditioners, clocks, and radios. It's hard to reach unless you fly, but worth the trip.