**UPDATE: Thanks so much for voting my image to #1 in Bucket List Publications travel photo contest! Also, thanks to those of you who liked/shared on Facebook. I’ve been underestimating the power of social media these days… Perhaps I should consider re-opening my FB account.
You all are the best. -H
Great Maple is indeed a new favorite of mine amongst all eateries within or immediately surrounding the confines of Fashion Island. Their seasonal plates are created using farm fresh produce which makes for exceptionally delicious cuisine; Emphasis placed on the Healdsburg salad, creamy polenta small plate (minus pancetta for me) and market soup of the day (all of which have been outstanding so far, especially the butternut carrot and spinach soups). Seafood dishes are prepared to perfection and the Spicy Grilled Shrimp Prawn starter is positively piquant in its distinct flavor, somewhat reminiscent of my south of the U.S. border culinary experiences. Complimentary hot bread and sea salted, herb infused butter make for a magnificent addition to the experience. One note: It would be nice if gluten free items were available amongst the array of menu selections.
A diverse range of imaginative cocktails, many of which utilizing organic juices and liquors are available for those of us seeking a refreshing spirit or two. As much as I love organically grown anything, I’m not sure if something as toxic to the human body as liquor will benefit from certified pesticide-free ingredients. Does it reduce hangover intensity? Feel free to knock a few organic tequilas back and inform me as to whether there is a difference.
On top of the delicious food, you’ll typically spend far less time waiting hungrily for your table than a few other favorites such as R&D and True Foods. We’re always warmly greeted by the manager (or owner, will have to find out) at some point during our lunch which adds to the overall charm.
The inevitable cessation of our meal always results in prompt table clearing by friendly bus staff, followed by our bill shortly thereafter. I for one can thoroughly appreciate this. When any restaurant claims to be at all European, I immediately visualize wait staff neglecting me post initial seating process and sedately returning every thirty minutes or so. Did that make any sense? I really am trying to put it lightly that I don’t find slow service admirable. They may serve European dishes, but the service is far superior to much of what you’ll experience in Europe. Do ignore this aspect of my review if you are one who relishes a relaxing, laid back approach from your inattentive waiter; I do know that a lazy afternoon of conversation works for many.
Please eat here. Hope to see you there amongst the merry glut of organic liquor enthusiasts.
What culture shock being home for once, living out of my closet instead of my suitcase is a novel concept indeed. Jetlag-less-ness is both refreshing and unfamiliar. For those who don’t know me, yes, I tend to fabricate the occasional word or two. My precious E and I are both experiencing strange new worlds and I couldn’t be happier. Just visiting Hawaii twice has given me reason to stay away from airports as much as humanly possible. What era are we living in where certain aircrafts have no changing tables? Using the toilet seat as instructed by the flight attendant is far less than satisfactory for a lengthly and hefty 6 month old tipping the scales at 21 lb.’s. Need I mention the blatantly apparent hygiene issue?
The time we spent in Kona was most enchanting though. E had fun with grandpa Jim and tutu Bar Bar whose house was decorated in a plethora of baby necessities courtesy of Baby’s Away Big Island. Thank the Lord I didn’t have to cart my entire nursery and play area with me to the islands. I would have had a far lower level of sanity without their help providing clean and modern baby equipment.
Although for the time being you’ll see less of me and my worldly travel moments, please know that I will do my best to provide as many restaurant, product, and attraction reviews as possible here in my home state of California.
I’m back… Finally recovered enough from my c-section to take a little trip. Welcome Elijah to my chaotic world of travel! (The Birth announcement is really low res., but it says: August 29th 2011, 3:38am, 8 pounds 12 ounces, 20.5 inches long!)
Thats right. Two months later and we’re back to Kona for another leisurely visit. This time we decided to see how the Waikoloa Beach Marriott has held up over the years. I was 14 last time I stepped foot on this property (when my agent had booked me for my first ever fashion show). Oh how I wish that I could find the ridiculous photos of me working the catwalk sporting the latest in Speedo swimwear and adolescent casual island wear for merchants such as Ross and Macy’s. Don’t you miss 1990’s fashion… maybe I’ll find some comedic images later and post them for added viewer amusement. The resort looked fine to me back then, but the convention/conference area was the extent of my Marriott experience, so I was curious to see the new and improved grounds.
We were pleased to be upgraded to a pool view room with a lovely, just through the trees panorama of A-Bay. The room and hotel grounds had obviously been recently renovated as everything has been noticeably refreshed. The only thing that needed upgrading in my opinion was the TV. A flat screen would have been nice. The room was a little on the small side and became hard to navigate when my husband utilized the desk area to do emails. Other than that, we were delightfully surprised by how nice of an accommodation it really was. Our room (2294) was right next to the fire escape which gave us easy and convenient pool access. The infinity pool was quite aesthetically pleasing but the water was freezing. The rest of the property grounds are absolutely beautiful. Inevitably, this part of the island is very windy, so that does get a little irksome at times. Pool staff are rather strange when it comes to the process of picking up and dropping off towels. All other hotel staff were magnificent though.
We did make use of the gym facility during our visit. The fitness equipment is amply stocked and everything has obviously been kept current and is rather clean.
The King’s Shops are right across the street (and Queen’s shops just a little further up the road), so you couldn’t ask for a better location with regard to shopping and dining selection. The Marriott offers the choice of an a la carte menu or buffet breakfast. Both were good but the buffet wasn’t worth the $29 in my opinion.
Overall we couldn’t believe how great this accommodation was for the price paid (approximately 40% cheaper than other 4 star resorts in the area). We almost gave the Waikoloa Beach Marriott a miss after reading a multitude of negative reviews. We’re glad to have given it a chance… it was surprisingly exceptional in almost every aspect and we’ll most likely return to this financially feasible hotel in the future!
In addition, we set off on an around the island drive to perhaps evoke a multitude of childhood memories. My husband’s patience was effectively tested as he endured the approximate 5 hour drive with me conducting an almost constant narrative pointing out every place I’d ever lived or spent any significant amount of time. (e.g. Annoyingly I can indeed point out every health food store from start to finish.) We had lunch at Cafe Pesto in Hilo and then stopped in at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park for a quick hike through a glorious lava tube. If anyone has experienced the Volcano Mist Cottage please let me know how it is. I hope to book in with them next time we’re in the area.