Water baby heaven at Spa Montage Maui

imageI’ve said it before: I am a water baby. I love the water — ocean, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls, water parks, pools, you name it! I also don’t do very much to pamper myself. I cut my own hair, have no beauty regimen and skip the facials and manicures. The one thing I do indulge in is a massage every now and then, so when you combine massages and a water spa, you know I’m going to be there.

100 Bay Drive, Kapalua (Maui)

100 Bay Dr., Kapalua, Maui

On a recent visit to Maui (props to Melissa Chang for inviting me to be her guest at the Kapalua Wine Festival) I got to visit the Montage Kapalua Bay and check out the Spa Montage. I had never heard of the Montage before. It’s actually a year-old, all-suite luxury hotel that was formerly The Residences at Kapalua Bay. The 24-acre oceanfront resort underwent a $15 million renovation.

This sounds fancy shmancy, but you can enjoy the facilities and spa amenities without being a hotel guest by grabbing a day pass for $55 (disclaimer: My day pass was graciously provided by Spa Montage). The spa offers a kama’aina 10 percent discount. There’s also a fitness center, classes, a juice bar and all kinds of massages and beauty treatments.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Spa Montage and the cool amenities you can access with a day pass.


Here is the highlight: a hot jacuzzi with waterfall on your right and a cool, refreshing bamboo rainforest on your left. For an immunity boost they recommend going from the hot to the cold three times — which I had a lot of fun doing by myself. Sit in the jacuzzi for 4 to 5 minutes, then jump into the cold rain for 45 seconds, repeat. You feel refreshed, invigorated and alive.


They also have a dry sauna and a eucalyptus steam room. These two areas are clothing optional, so I didn’t take any photos. The steam room was delightful and opened all the senses. Once you step outside you can take an ice cold towelette to cool off.


The outside area is coed. You can relax in the jacuzzi or take a dip in the infinity pool. It was very relaxing with the sounds of rain and chirping birds. There’s lemon cucumber water, sunscreen and magazines to read. What was especially nice was there were no children, no one talking, so you could let your mind rest and drift into relaxation.

The hot waterfall into the jacuzzi was unique, a lot of fun and very relaxing. Loved this massage!

The hot waterfall into the jacuzzi was unique, a lot of fun and very relaxing. Loved this massage!

I’ve visited spas around the world. Some had hydrotherapy options and some didn’t. This was by far the best I have experienced. I loved the way the spa brought together the comfort of nature with luxury. It was private yet allowed for an open tropical setting which was a treat for the senses.

Spa Montage at Kapalua Bay
100 Bay Dr., Lahaina, HI 96761

Eat and do good: Waffles for Wishes

Photo credit: Melissa Chang

Photo credit: Melissa Chang

Summer is officially here! As a child on Kauai, what I loved most about this season was spending all day in the sun at Kalihiwai beach, riding my bike around Kilauea town and hanging out with friends. Summer is also the busiest time of year for the Make-A-Wish Foundation: This is when it prepares to grant 500 wishes for children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Here in Hawaii, 60 children will see their wishes come true. And Make-A-Wish Hawaii also helps to grant 160 wishes a month for mainland keiki headed to these islands.

Photo credit: Kevin Lubera

Photo credit: Kevin Lubera

For years I have been touched by the amazing experiences Make-A-Wish creates for children. I saw the impact this non-profit made on the life of a 14-year-old Waipahu boy who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. TeeJay lost his battle with cancer on May 11, 2012, not long after a bucket list of his wishes had been granted by good samaritans from Hawaii and across the globe, and most notably by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Red Carpet event at TeeJay's wish-granting party.

Red Carpet event at TeeJay’s wish-granting party.

Make-A-Wish does a tremendous amount of work for children and their families, so it’s only fitting that there be a special event to help them raise enough money to secure at least two wishes for keiki. That’s not easy when fulfilling the average wish costs about $10,000. Waffles for Wishes is a special brunch fund-raiser set for this Sunday at the Ward Village courtyard.

Here, Make-A-Wish Hawaii will launch its newly formed Young Leader’s Board of working professionals under 45 years-old. They’ll debut their “Heroes for Hope” initiative, proving that anyone can be a hero, especially to a child. “This is one of the most exciting events this year because it’s great to see fresh, young new faces showing their commitment and embracing the community this way,” said Make-A-Wish Hawaii CEO Siana Hunt. “This is really two-fold as a call to action for our young business leaders to get involved and volunteer.” Waffles for Wishes will also welcome grown-up Wish Kids, two of whom will speak at the brunch.

Ward Village Courtyard Brunch

Ward Village Courtyard Brunch

And one more thing: All proceeds this Sunday will go to Make-A-Wish. Waffles for Wishes is an all-you-can-eat and -drink event featuring dishes from:

Bread + Butter
Koko Head Café
Liliha Bakery
Morimoto Waikiki
MW Restaurant
The Pig & The Lady
Whole Foods Market
Kope Coffee Catering Company

Brunch cocktails by Organic Ocean Vodka (Bloody Mary Bar), Market Advantage (Endless Mimosas) and Starbucks.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the dishes:

Pig & the Lady - Farmers Pho: Farmer's market Taro stems, Ho Farms tomatoes and okra, pineapple, Aloha tofu, rice paddy herb, rice noodle.

Pig & the Lady – Farmers Pho: Farmer’s market taro stems, Ho Farms tomatoes and okra, pineapple, Aloha tofu, rice paddy herb, rice noodle.

Bread + Butter - Smoked salmon with dill cream, one of two dishes being served. (Photo: Melissa Chang) Throughout July B+B is also holding their own Wine for Wishes fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Hawaii. For each bottle of wine purchased, guests can place their cork in a bucket and a portion of the wine sales benefit the organization.

Bread + Butter – Smoked salmon with dill cream, one of two dishes being served. (Photo: Melissa Chang) Throughout July B+B is also holding their own Wine for Wishes fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Hawaii. For each bottle of wine purchased, guests can place their cork into a bucket and a portion of the wine sales benefit the organization.

Koko Head Cafe - Cheddar Scallion Maple Waffle with house-made maple sriracha sausage gravy and creamy scrambled eggs, by celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong.

Koko Head Cafe – Cheddar Scallion Maple Waffle with house-made maple sriracha sausage gravy and creamy scrambled eggs, by celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong.

Come out Sunday and enjoy delectable bites by some of Hawaii’s best chefs and relax to the soothing sounds of DJ Anit while sipping a summery cocktail and supporting a great cause! See you there!

Waffles for Wishes
Sunday, June 28th 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
$85 per person. All proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Click here for tickets and info.

Kapalua Wine: Seafood Festival

We got ready to boogie down, enjoy stellar wines and nosh on some of the best seafood dishes in Hawaii, prepared by 14 of Maui’s top chefs at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival’s sold-out Seafood Festival.

The event was bustling with electricity, live entertainment, people from across the globe and some of Hawaii’s most sought-after culinarians as they created eclectic, memorable and unique seafood dishes to pair with wines and craft cocktails. Featured restaurants included: The Banyan Tree, Star Noodle, Pacific O, Japengo, Maui Culinary Academy, Joe’s Nuevo Latino, Makena Beach Resort, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Mortimoto Maui, Pailolo Bar & Grill, Hula Grill, Roy’s Resaturant Maui, Migrant, Mala/Honu/Frida’s.

Take a look at these party pics for a recap of the night’s events.

Kapalua Wine & Food Fest — Seafood Fest

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Kapalua Wine: The Grand Tasting

With winemaker Rajat Parr

With winemaker Rajat Parr

Foodies and oenophiles, visitors and locals converged this weekend for the annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. Highlighting Maui’s culinary superstars and Hawaii’s sommeliers, the event brings together the best in a tropical, picturesque locale.

The 34-year-old festival prides itself on being the oldest food and wine event in the country. This year, in addition to the wine tasting seminars, celebrity chef demonstrations and festival golf tournament, there’s a lot of eating going on! Melissa Chang and I kicked off the celebration with food, music and an abundance of wine and fun at The Grand Tasting — Kapalua Style, which featured cuisine by Kapalua restaurants: The Plantation House, Pineapple Grill, Merriman’s Kapalua, The Banyan Tree, Sansei Seafood Restaraunt & Sushi Bar, Honolua Store, Cane & Canoe, Laulima Events & Catering/Maui Culinary Academy. Desserts included creations by Maui Cookie Lady and Big Island Candies, and there were treats like Black River Caviar and Valley Isle Kombucha.

Here’s a inside look:

Kapalua Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

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Watch our posts on social media using the hashtag #KapaluaWine all weekend!

Our Top 5: Pitaya bowls

Pitaya bowl by Jess Da Best

Pitaya bowl by Jess Da Best

Crunchy, fresh, fruity, refreshing and often very filling… I am talking about sweet-tart pitaya bowls. These are kind of like acai bowls but with pitaya, a variation of dragon fruit, instead of acai. To make pitaya bowls and smoothies you start with the amazingly magenta fruit either fresh, frozen or in a pre-blended pack. Toss it in a blender with apple juice, coconut milk or coconut water and add in other fruits to thicken. The consistency ranges from thick to soupy.

Pitaya bowls are like the next-generation acai bowls. Acai, the purple berry from a South American palm tree, hit the health food scene several years ago and while it is still extremely popular as a breakfast, light meal or refresher on a hot day, pitaya has now emerged as the new big trend in healthy eating. Known as a super food, pitaya is full of antioxidants, high in vitamin C, loaded with fiber, usually organic and non-GMO, and it’s supposed to help with arthritis.

That said, it’s kind of expensive when you think about it. A couple scoops of pitaya topped with fruit averages $10. So you must think of it as a meal. And believe me, I do!

Photo Credit: Food-Worlds.com

Photo Credit: Food-Worlds.com

I set out to find the top 5 places to score a healthy, delicious and filling pitaya bowl. My top 5 had to be pleasing to the eye, full of color and abundant with fruits and pitaya. They had to be sweet, but not too sweet, with just a hint of tartness. And was the pitaya runny, was it soft, was it hard, was it smooth? Everywhere I went I bought a basic pitaya bowl, without any upgrades or additions.

Tilia Aloha Cafe

Tilia Aloha Cafe

No. 5: Tilia Aloha Cafe

Located in the heart of Waikiki, this hidden gem is very popular with Japanese tourists because of its diverse menu, whimsical offerings and retail shop. This bowl was beautiful, topped generously with puff rice, granola, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and mac nut honey. The pitaya itself was a little sorbet-ish, so it melted quickly and turned to soup. But the flavor was good, a bit tart, and the portion with fresh colorful fruits was beautiful and generous for $10.50.

403 Kaiolu Street, Honolulu, 808-888-2011

Lanikai Juice (Kakaako)

Lanikai Juice (Kakaako)

No. 4: Lanikai Juice

This was a standout: full of fruits, with pitaya that was soft and somewhat creamy with just the perfect amount of sweetness mixed with tart. The pitaya was blended with coconut water, coconut cream, banana and strawberry, then topped with granola, banana, blueberries, strawberry, mango and dried shredded coconut. For $9.75, it was the perfect combo of beauty, taste, texture and flavor. Plus it had a generous assortment of fresh fruits including mango, which is pretty rare.

680 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, 808-369-1400

Jess Da Best - powered by HI Cravings

Jess Da Best – powered by HI Cravings

No. 3: Jess Da Best

If you haven’t heard of Jess Da Best acai bowls, you are missing out. They have more than 18,600 followers on Instagram, so the bowls must be good, right? Well, this Kapolei operation occasionally does pop-ups in Honolulu. The bowls are beautiful and topped with an insane amount of fruits. The $9.50 pitaya bowl typically includes strawberries, coconut, honeydew, watermelon, pineapple, honey and granola. There are a range of fruit add-ons that include pineapple and sometimes grapes, apples and blueberries. The most popular add-on is a homemade egg-free cookie dough, which you eat raw.

525 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, 808-561-9386

Farmacy Health Bar Wailuku

Farmacy Health Bar Wailuku

No. 2: Farmacy Health Bar

I’m veering to a neighbor island here, but this joint on Maui known as “The Farmacy” takes freshness and health to a whole new level. This is where the island’s top chefs and foodies grab their healthy treats. The pitaya here is made with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, coconut milk, macadamia nut milk and aloe vera gel and topped with strawberries, blueberries, banana, mango, papaya and pitaya. Often it is also topped with roasted coconut, mac nuts, goji berries, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, honey and bee pollen, at $8 per pound. Farmacy specializes in locally sourced organic fruits and toppings. They use sugarcane juice instead of apple for the added minerals, vitamins and alkaline benefits. I feel so healthy now!

12 N. Market St., Wailuku, 808-866-4312

Hi-Blend pitaya/dragon bowl

Hi-Blend pitaya/dragon bowl

No. 1: Hi-Blend Health Bar

This hole-in-the-wall off Keeaumoku Street came as a surprise. I have dined at Raging Crab and Sushi ii, both in the same Samsung Plaza, but never noticed this little health bar. Their $9.95 pitaya bowl was a major standout because the consistency was like a soft sorbet and it was topped with fresh fruits including kiwi, local banana, firm blueberries, strawberries and toasted coconut. Local organic honey, granola and crunchy almonds hidden in the bowl added great texture and crunch to each spoonful. They blend their pitaya with coconut milk, which gives it a creamier texture. This is my favorite because it’s the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, has lots of fresh fruits and a nice hearty granola with crunchy nuts.

661 Keeaumoku St., Honolulu, 808-721-7303

Now after all this, would I prefer an acai bowl or a pitaya bowl? I would probably pick an Acai bowl since it’s usually cheaper, comes with more toppings and most places have perfected them by now. But pitaya bowls are just as delicious if they’re loaded up with freshness.

Bottoms up!