Babymoon in Hawaii
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Last month we took our first big trip in a while (thanks pandemic) that also will be our last big trip for a while (thanks pregnancy ;) ) Doctors generally suggest pregnant women stop traveling once they hit the third trimester / for sure by 32 weeks; however, with twins the request comes a bit earlier. Originally my doctor said to stop flying by 24 weeks, but later extended it to 28 weeks due to the good nature of my progressions. I have di-di twins, so keep that in mind as mo-di and mo-mo are more high risk. We weren’t sure we were even going to be able to take a trip because of the twins, much less COVID, so around 20 weeks when my doctor said I could, we were ecstatic. Little did I know, Nick had been working on a surprise trip for me.
Keep reading for more details on our babymoon to the island of Lanai in Hawaii.
Side note in most of my travel posts I use my DSLR camera. I did bring it, but I didn’t use it at all / these are all iphone photos. It was more of a relaxing trip this way, which is what it was meant to be! I did however have a hard time selecting photos and portraying the beauty of the island. Enjoy!!
The top question I received is how Nick was able to keep it a secret from me. I didn’t know where we were going until we landed in the Honolulu airport, and even then I didn’t know we weren’t staying on Oahu. My main answer is that I wasn’t trying to think about it or figure it out. Why would I want to spoil the surprise? Nick kept me off of all the communications and even went as far to delete / forward emails and texts I got regarding the trip. When we got our COVID test, he told the person administering not to say / ask where we were going. He did that with the airlines / TSA too. Most people were happy to play along and not spoil the surprise. I didn’t look at the ticket or the flight info banners. When we boarded the flight, I put my headphones on so I couldn’t hear and so on. I think a big reason secrets don’t work is because most of us can’t stand not knowing. Nick also didn’t really share the information with friends or family, which is typically another point of failure with surprises. I did pack for myself, so I had some idea of the climate where we were visiting, but again didn’t know where. Nick just went through what I needed and “approved” outfits I picked out to bring based on what I needed and didn’t need.
Now for the actual trip information! We flew from Los Angeles, CA to Honolulu, Hawaii (Oahu) and from there to Lanai City, Hawaii (Lanai). We took Lanai Air to Lanai, so it was their team who picked us up from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and took us to the Lanai Air station. We waited maybe 30 minutes, then took a small plane (8 seater + 2 pilots) for a 25ish minute flight from Honolulu to Lanai City. Note that if you don’t want to fly, they do have ferries that go from both Oahu and Maui. Would make for a good day trip from another island!
The island of Lanai is relatively small. It has one city - Lanai City and is actually under the jurisdiction of Maui / Maui County. There’s only about 3000+ people who live on the island and a lot of it isn’t developed. For this reason, it gave me a feel of Maui with its raw beauty. It used to be called the Pineapple Island, as 75% of the world’s pineapples (Dole!) came from there. Now the island is owned by Larry Ellison (former CEO of Oracle). Before this trip, I had visited Oahu and Maui with my parents and sister and to be quite frank, I had not even heard of Lanai! It was a real treat for many reasons, but one of them being that it was a very different feel than the other islands I had been to or what one might think of as traditionally Hawaii. Now to be fair, we stayed in the mountains, which I will touch on later; however, even not referencing that location, it was different. One evening we were driving from the beach resort back to our mountain resort and stopped to let about 50 - 80 white tailed deer run across the road. It was insane! Never in my life had I seen that many deer at once and I never expected to experience a heard in Hawaii of all places. Needless to say, Lanai is a gorgeous island and we do recommend it!
We stayed at Sensei, a Four Seasons Resort. It is 1900 feet above sea level and in the mountains, so again probably not what you think if when you think Hawaii. Once our small plane landed, we were greeted with a Lanai branded Tesla and driver, who took us the 20ish minutes up to the resort. There were tall, pine (?) trees leading up most of the road to the resort. It was stunning, just again, I think more palm trees when it comes to Hawaii? You also pass through the city’s “downtown” area that has several local restaurants and shops. You’ll also pass Sensei’s hydroponic farm (they grow a lot of produce for dining, but also wholesale to certain vendors), in addition to their horse pasture. Once you make it to the resort, you are immersed into the zen garden of your dreams, complete with sculptures and wildlife. I’ll note that Sensei just opened. They were a resort under a different name and closed 5 years ago for renovations. Before that, they were a retirement home. They were supposed to open back up in 2020, but the pandemic prevented that from happening. It makes sense that they took 5 years for renovations, because the rooms were nice, but oh wow the landscaping was to die for!! So lush and amazing.
Sensei is branded as a wellness retreat. They have lots of different workout classes and the food is on the lighter side. We didn’t do their wellness package, but would gladly go back to experience it after the twins come. That being said, it is adults only. There is a Four Seasons resort on the beach and that location is family friendly. We had the best of both worlds, as we were able to shuttle to the beach resort whenever we wanted and use their beach / eat at their restaurants. They do say not to use the pools and have the same request for those visiting Sensei. The Sensei pools are amazing (lush, nicely built, plunge pools too), so I didn’t feel like I was missing out; however, the mountain temperature is significantly cooler than the beach resort so take that into account regarding swimming. Regardless of swimming, I wish I brought a jacket with me as it was often cool. Clouds would roll through the areas and the sun would often hide, so just keep that in mind if you visit.
We would 100% recommend Sensei and would love to go back. I think our favorite part was the grounds. They were STUNNING and we found new things everyday. The hotel rooms were nice, but the star of the show was the Toto bidet / toilet. They open when you come into the room, have a night light, and are heated. In general that is luxurious, but as someone who was 23- 24 weeks pregnant, it was a DREAM. I did not mind waking up in the middle of the night to use the restroom at all! Originally we thought they were going to upgrade our room, but they were fully booked, so that was a no-go. Even so, our room opened up to the gardens and was delightful. I’m not sure how it could have been “upgraded” unless it was simply for space. Oh, they also had a bomb pregnancy pillow I used too. Be sure to ask your front desk if they have one. It came in clutch. Even though the hotel was full, I think we saw 10 people max a day, so it didn’t feel busy or loud. In sending pictures to my mom she asked if we were the only ones there. Hah! In comparison to the beach resort, it was VERY zen. That resort was hopping. To be fair, it is larger and of course has kids, so that didn’t come as a surprise. We met some people staying there who had just come from the Four Seasons in Maui and said that Lanai even at the beach was quieter than Maui. I’m not sure if it was because of peak summertime, revenge traveling from the pandemic, or a mixture of both.
If I had one complaint, I would just mention the food. And the only reason I’m mentioning it is because I was pregnant. Not even really a complaint, just wanted to keep this review well rounded and be totally honest! Sensei has one restaurant and it is by Nobu. We love Nobu and the meals were so good; however, I’m not really eating light meals right now and that is what Sensei focuses on, especially since it is a wellness retreat. I am into bread, macaroni, chicken tenders, etc which is not readily available. I was able to ask for a side of bread with every meal no issue though! The vegetables were amazing and all the dishes we had were divine. Our favorite was probably the white fish tempura. They don’t have a sushi menu right now (not that I could have enjoyed it anyway), but are working to build one out. There is only the one restaurant and a pool menu, so if you are staying there for a prolonged amount of time, there is a chance you might get bored of the options. We stayed Thursday - Tuesday and I’m glad we had other places to explore. Room service and the bar menu both come from the restaurant. As mentioned, you can enjoy the restaurants at the beach resort, which we took advantage of. They have Nobu and Malibu Farm, with a couple other options. I may be biased, but in my experience, the best Nobu and Malibu Farm locations are in Malibu and I frequent those, so it wasn’t like a wow this is amazing. Buuuut I am also happy we had other restaurants to visit. One night we did go off property to Lanai City Grill. We were able to try local venison there and it was yummy! Definitely opt for the specialty dishes like that, as those are what they excel in. Overall the food was fine! I am just such a foodie and also kind of weird with eating right now, as I have quite a few aversions and most of the time nothing sounds good.
Now that I’ve given you an idea of our trip, I’m going to share our exact itinerary, so you can get a feel of what we did and the options there are. Even though it is a small island, there is quite a bit to do!
Arrived late afternoon. Had a snack in the bar area, then took a nap in our room. Our flight was 7 am from LAX, so it was a long day. We had reservations at Sensei by Nobu and it was a great way to kick off our trip. Note that this menu is not what you find at traditional Nobu restaurants. You can get that menu at the beach resort though. Oh and both have good mocktails ;)
We pre-ordered room service the night before for 6:00 am, so we could eat before 7:00 am yoga. They have classes you can join daily as well as private classes. You should try to get a reservation even for the group ones. If they are booked up, you can try to just arrive and see if people don’t make it. A lot of people have good intentions, but don’t actually roll out of bed. After yoga, I took a nap and ate the rest of my breakfast from that morning. This was really our only day with downtime, so we spent the afternoon by the pool. Their pools really are amazing and I’m not just referencing the landscaping. The actual pools themselves were very nice from their flooring, to the design of them. They also have plunge pools for you to enjoy in an even more intimate setting. The pool menu doesn’t open until afternoon, so just keep that in mind and make sure to eat a good breakfast and / or bring snacks. This pregnant lady was hungry!! We ended up having bar snacks after the pool, then headed into town. We went at an awkward 2:30 / 3:00 pm time and most things were shutting down for the day or closing before re-opening for dinner later. It was fun to experience it all, just keep that inn mind, should you decide to venture from the resort. We walked there from Sensei, but caught a ride back. I was kind of tired at that point! That evening, we beach resort for dinner. If you plan to leave Sensei, make sure to reserve shuttle times, so there is room for you. Also be sure to be there before the leave time, not right at leave time as they just might leave without you. This happened to us once and we were there on time! We had dinner at the steak restaurant called One Forty. I have come across some really nice steaks in my day, so it was just okay. The rolls were amazing though! I ended up not feeling very well this night, so we headed back early. I was beginning to experience heartburn and had no idea what it was!
Another day, another room service breakfast and 7:00 am yoga class. Nick and I really enjoyed this light stretching and meditation to the point where Nick admitted to missing it once we were back in California! Today we headed back to the beach resort side for Nick to play golf. I hung out with him in the cart and it was fun! He only did 9 holes, since I wasn’t playing / didn’t want to take up the whole day. They actually let him play the back 9 instead of just the front 9, as the back half is “prettier” and has the iconic 12th hole. I say “prettier”, because there really isn’t a bad view at all. I liken the looks to Pebble Beach, but more elevation. Bill and Melinda Gates rented out the whole island when they were married and tied the knot at the 12th hole. Manele Golf Course was so nice. You are treated like it is a private course. From the golf cart to the refreshments (amazing lemonade), it was bomb. It isn’t unique, but I did like that they offered sunscreen both on the course and at the pools. Not just any sunscreen, but Coola sunscreen, which is in the more non-toxic realm. I put sunscreen on my face, but forgot to make Nick put any on, as it is pretty cloudy in the mountains. I was very thankful he had some to wear, plus I put some on my legs, arms, and neck. After we finished the back 9, we had lunch at Views which is after the 18th hole. Next we went back to Sensei where I… you guessed it! Napped. That evening we had dinner at the Lanai City Grill, which is at what I think is the only other hotel available besides the Four Seasons properties. It was nice to sit on a patio and hear live music. The venison sliders and venison with polenta were very good. We finished slightly early, so we headed back to the hotel and walked the grounds. It is still stunning, even when it is dark! They have fire pits and it is just beautiful.
More yoga and room service! Today we took a shuttle to the beach resort and enjoyed the beach. We go to the beach at least once a week in LA, so it wasn’t a huge necessity for us to go, but I’m glad we went. What’s kind of weird is that they don’t offer or allow alcohol on the beach. The food is run by Malibu Farm, but is not their normal menu. I’ve stayed at the Nobu property in Miami and they were similar in the sense that Malibu Farm is the beach food, but they had the traditional menu and served alcohol. I know everywhere is different, just wanted to mention this! I didn’t get more than calf deep in the ocean. The tide is really strong and I didn’t want to fall. I was happy just sitting in the beach chair with my umbrella! Side note - at the beaches and the pools, they bring over a personal cooler with water and cups, which was really nice. I’ve been to places where they are weird about water and I was happy to see they didn’t skimp on this. They also give you these re-fillable metal water bottles and have water refill stations amongst both resorts. The whole island is very eco-conscious which I loved. Afterwards, we headed back to Sensei. That afternoon, I got a mani pedi and Nick took an Archery class. They have lots of different options like skeet shooting and horseback riding, but we kept it low key, since I was pregnant. After that we got ready for dinner, only then shuttle back to the beach resort. This was actually 4th of July and they had a fun little gathering to celebrate. The highlight of this night was that I confirmed my suspicions of Kate Mara staying there. I had seen who I thought was her (wearing a mask) the day before and then again on the beach. I don’t think many people realized who she was, because she had just chopped and bleached her hair. She was there at the 4th of July party with her little family and they were darling.
Are you surprised? More yoga and room service! This was our last full day, so Nick had a surprise spa day. If you do one thing at Sensei, I’d say to book a spa service. The massages were in these “hales” which translates to home or lodge. They are essentially small houses where you receive the massage, but they are equipped with an infrared sauna, steam shower, towel warmer, bathtub, cool and warm plunge pools, and an outdoor rain shower. When you enter you get to pick your oil scent for them to use during the massage and when you leave, they give you a roller of it! You also get time to enjoy the hale after your spa service is over. I had a prenatal massage which was great, but I had trouble enjoying it. They had a tummy pillow so I could lay face down, but I probably should have just stayed on my side. I think maybe because I have twins, I have more weight / stress and a nerve was pressed. I can’t lie flat on my back for more than 15 minutes, so I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising to me that my stomach is similar. It was a me problem though, not a Sensei problem, so I still would recommend their services. The massage felt good - I just couldn’t fully enjoy it. I know Nick loved it! It was for sure a highlight of the vacation. After the massage and a nap, we walked around the property, doing the self guided art and plant tours. That evening we shuttled to the beach resort to eat at Nobu, which didn’t disappoint. Love it as per usual.
Last yoga morning! Today we switched it up by dining in restaurant for breakfast after yoga. Their property is so pretty, it was fun to overlook the koi pond. Mid-morning we hired the only “Uber’ driver on the island to take us to the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. They have a outdoor cat cafe if you will that is home to over 600 cats without homes. Don’t worry, they take good care of them and make sure they have proper veterinarian care and so on. It was so fun! After that we headed back the resort and walked the grounds one last time before leaving. We were shuttled to the airport, took our small plane, then made it back to LA from Honolulu. I think we landed around 11:30 pm, so it was a long day to say the least!
Like I’ve said several times, we had a fantastic time and Nick did such a good job planning it! This was such a relaxing vacation and I’m so thankful we were able to do it. Despite the late flight and inevitable travel hangover, we came back rested and revived. We typically squeeze trips in over the weekend, so I think this was the longest consecutive vacation we have taken since our honeymoon. I also don’t think I’ve taken that long of a hiatus from work since my honeymoon either. I didn’t even bring my laptop! Even on work trips (I didn’t work with this hotel), it is often not very relaxing between photoshoots, writing, and postings, so it was really nice not to have to do that. I put my phone on do not disturb and didn’t really look at it but once a day. I did upload stories at the end of night, but it was so nice to just be in the moment. Even if you can’t get away as far as Hawaii, I’d recommend taking staycation of some kind just to totally relax. As everyone (who has never had twins mind you) likes to keep telling us… we are going to need to the sleep! We’d love to go back, if only a day trip from Maui or something like that. Nick has never been to Maui and I think he’d really like it. I also would love to go to Kauai. Looks like we need another Hawaii trip sooner rather than later!!
Side note - Nick used a travel agent and would recommend them. The one he used is called SS Gold Travel. We would suggest trying to book as many activities and shuttles ahead of time, as we spoke to some people who weren’t able to schedule things due to lack of availability once they arrived. This could be just a COVID / short staffed issue, but thought I would mention it. We didn’t have any issues regarding this thanks to our travel agent! Oh and we did consider this our babymoon, but it would be great for a honeymoon or any kind of romantic getaway!
Safe travels!! Have a great time and let me know if you have any questions I didn’t cover. Happy to help!