Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hawaiian I

Back from the land where tattoos are not just a fad, reggae music fills the air, and you never see out of state plates – Hawaii.

Armed with sunscreen lotion almost confiscated at LAX, my wife Debby and I arrived at the Maui airport and sped off for the Kea Lani hotel in Wailea, passing all the sights that remind us we’re back in paradise – a Costco, Bad Ass Coffee, K-Mart, McDonalds, and a factory with two imposing black chimneys spouting smoke…or steam… or peyote. We figured this was a perfect time to go, before kids are done with school and TV executives are still stuck in affiliate meetings.

Hawaii is my favorite spot on earth. Someday I plan to live there. I know there is concern about island fever but if I ever feel too hemmed in and need to return to the mainland I can always hop a flight to Tahiti.

This was our first time at the Kea Lani (Hawaiian for “no shade”). A lovely luxury resort done in the Hawaiian tradition of Morocco. We chose not to stay in one of their private seaside villas that go for about $2500 a night (but breakfast is included… just no seconds.). A friend stayed in one and was told he was in luck. All new furniture because Charlie Sheen had just trashed the place.

Most resort hotels have return business in the teens. For the Kea Lani it’s in the 30% range. On the one hand they’re very proud, on the other – it might mean Charlie Sheen returns and doesn’t like that new rattan d├ęcor.

There are three pool areas at the Kea Lani – an adult pool, a lagoon for families (read: screaming kids), and a drunk tank. This is a pool with a swim-up bar and let me tell you, the folks wading here were smashed out of their minds. Other than diving for fallen pineapple wedges, all these swimmers do is bob and weave to stay afloat…in four feet of water. There have been so many accidents however, that every day at 4:00 the red flag is put out.

True story: A guy took at a seat at the pool bar, water up to his waist, ordered a drink, and put a paper napkin on his lap. The message here: Don’t drink and swim.

The first night we had a leisurely dinner at the hotel, under the stars, listening to the gentle sounds of the trade winds and a fire alarm siren. We sipped cocktails and remembered Pearl Harbor.

They change the carpet in the elevators three times a day. (good morning, afternoon, evening.) They change the carpets in the room once every seven years.

You know us! We biked down the Haleakala crater, rode horses in Makawao, kayaked through the coves of West Maui, hiked through a bamboo forest, surfed Kapalua, and snorkeled in a cove of sea turtles. That was the first morning. After that we did nothing!

It’s bad enough I saw this woman slathering suntan lotion on herself and baking in the bright noon day sun. But she was reading LIFE LAUGHS by Jenny McCarthy. If she gets sunstroke that renders her stupid, how will anyone know?

For two days Maui was covered in Vog – volcanic emissions from a volcano on the big island (I forget its name. It had an “l”, a “k” and sixteen “a’s”, five in a row). It blanketed all of Hawaii (except the very exclusive Four Seasons) with a slight haze/fog the locals call vog. Fortunately, from our terrace we could still see Molokai and the Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the Wailea Shopping Mall.

All of Hawaii is still in mourning over the recent passing of Don Ho. There’s even talk of renaming Honolulu International Airport, Don Ho International Airport. I’m all for it. Most cities name their airports after presidents or beloved politicians. This would be the first one named after a lounge singer.

Macadamia nuts are cheaper at Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles than at Safeway in Maui.

Stand-up Paddle Surfing is the new island craze. It’s kayaking for people with balance. Caution: Not advised for oceans that contain waves.

In honor of the LOST season finale (filmed in Hawaii) the hotel did a fun thing. They abducted some of the women guests.

Saw a guy with a big Chai tattooed to his chest. He must save a fortune in jewelry.

Every cabana boy on the entire island looks like Owen Wilson.

Condo ad spotted: “Lovely unit. Two doors down from ocean view”.

Real estate prices in Maui are through the roof. All the haoles want to move to Hawaii. Where do Hawaiians want to move to? Las Vegas. Who needs rainbows when there are nickel slots?

As you walk the beach path there is a sign that says: “Welcome to the Grand Wailea. The pool & services are for guests only.” Originally, it also included “views” but the state made them remove it.

Only in Hawaii. Two serious local news anchors reported on the U.S. death toll in Iraq while wearing Aloha shirts and leis.

I got quite a scare after downing a particularly potent but yummy Lava Flow. I glanced down and yelled, “AAAA!! I HAVE TWO KNEES ON MY RIGHT LEG!” My wife assured me it was a mosquito bite but that still didn’t stop me from frantically calling 911 and demanding to speak to Dr. House.

As usual, there was no shortage of balding, pot-bellied, cigar chomping 60 year old men with their gorgeous 30 year old nieces (usually around the pool buying jewelry even rappers would think is ridiculously marked up). Hawaii just seems to bring families together!

A synagogue in Oahu has the following website -- “Shaloha.com.” I’m guessing they’re reform. Stopping just short of having a pig with an apple in its mouth at the Purim Luau.

FOUND!! One of my favorite lost singers of the 70’s, Yvonne Elliman surfaced and performed at the Diamond Head Crater Celebration. Yvonne is just like Katharine McPhee except Hawaiian, older, sings disco, and doesn’t smile every minute. When Yvonne passes (hopefully many years from now) there’s talk of renaming the Dole Pineapple Factory after her.

The Dali Lama recently stayed at the nearby Renaissance. (You’d think he could do better.) Wouldn’t you love to be checking in and there he is going bonkers because they gave him a room by the ice machine? It would also be pretty cool to go to a Yoga class and there is the Dali Lama sitting next to you. (I thought that actually happened to me but again, it was the Lava Flow.)

I always leave Hawaii kicking and screaming but at least now I’ll be able to get my daily fix. WHODAGUY HAWAII premieres July 7th, an internet radio station hosted by broadcasting legend, Ron Jacobs. I just know I’ll be transported – to the sandy beaches, the exotic rain forests, and when Ron spins a classic Don Ho hit -- the airport.



Roger Christie said...

"volcanic emissions from a volcano on the big island (I forget its name. It had an “l”, a “k” and sixteen “a’s”, five in a row)"

aloha Ken, the volcano is Kiluaea and the current vent spitting out the hot stuff and ash is Pu`u O`o. I live a few miles from the vent and run a small ad network over her on the Big Island. If you're ver over here, I can be your guide out to the laval flow in case you're interested and haven't been. ;)


Rory L. Aronsky said...

Once again, another travelogue by you hits the imagination in just the right place, enough to be transported there, charmed by Hawaii, and then leaving without crying for your wallet back. I may go one day, but this was fine for now.

John said...

Your logic for going to Hawaii is the same reason I'm headed to New York next week -- the little urchins don't get out of school until the end of June, so they're still inside while the weather outside is warm, but not yet in clothing-soaking mode.

(And people fly to resorts in Hawaii to read Jenny McCarthy books? Can't they just do that while on the treadmill down at Curves?)

Michael Zand said...

Last time we were in Hawaii we stayed at the Grand Wailea, (where, by the way, you SHOULD use their precious pools when you're not a guest just on principal -- whose gonna know?)my wife turned to me after our usual $60 a head buffet breakfast and said, "Wow, hundred is the new twenty."

BTW, you're so right about Kathrine McPhee and her perpetual smile. It's either a holdover from her beauty pagent days, or a nervous tic. Never seen anyone sing "I Who Have Nothing" while holding a rictus.

Emily Blake said...

Is Yvonne Elliman the chick who played Mary Magdalene in the original cast recording of Jesus Christ, Superstar? Because if it is I love her voice. I've never heard "I Don't Know How to Love Him" sound better.

Mel Themhoneemann said...

Reading your notes and the "comments" on your Hawaiian Vacation blog reinforces my belief that cynical mainlanders, (and that's what you and your readers are, Levine) can't see paradise beyond the recognition of LA's familiar commercial icons.
If you left your lounge chair long enough to take a swim in the most wonderful water on earth or stopped at a local snack bar to have some "saimin" and talk story with a local, maybe you would have had a better time. and please lay off Don Ho! He was so much more then "a lounge singer".

Mr. Hollywood said...

Just back from Maui myself Ken ... always stay at lovely condos adjacent to the big hotels ... the Grand Wailea and Kea Lani look like they belong in Vegas rather then paradise.
By the way, did you notice all the new condos going up across from the Grand Wailea? We should enjoy lovely Wailea while we can. Because, as the song says, "they're paving paradise and putting up parking lots!"

Eric Weinstein said...

Ahhhh, Temple Emanu-El (Shaloha)...at the kiddush luncheon after the Saturday "traditional" service, they serve Gefilte fish with poi!

Dwacon said...

The soft island breeze brings you strange melodies

And they tell of exotic mysteries under the tropical spell of Hawaiian Eye.

Where love and adventure await this is your fate

And you can not stray from you can’t run away from Hawaiian Eye.

Ken Levine said...


The robots at blogger.com have temporaily frozen my blog accidentally flagging it as sending spam. They've been alerted that it's not and now I wait while they review it.

I'm getting less and less enamored by blogger.com

I hope the problem is resolved soon.


Gerry Steiner said...

The Dali Lama did very well in choosing the Renaissance. It was the very best place to stay on Maui it's now only a memory. And if you were a part of Maui culture, or even Oahu's, any new without an aloha shirt with seem very strange.

Gerry Steiner said...

The Renaissance was the best place to stay on Maui. It's closure was a tremendous loss. The Dali Lama did very well.

Anonymous said...

just bought JCSuperstar on DVD yesterday. I used to love the album as a young man. Still in love with Yvonne and her voice on Don't know how to love him and Everything's alright. Some things never change.

Daniel, www.SecretShortcuts.com

sewa villa said...

the hotel on the first image looks awesome ,what hotel name is it?