Colleen’s Hawaii Holiday – Final Blog

Our time in Kihei is done and we are moving to the Westin Kaanapali for our last 3 nights in Hawaii. Kihei and Kaanapali are 30 minutes apart but a world away.

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View from Westin

Kihei is low key and quite and Kaanapali is high end and busy. The hotels that line this beach are higher priced but most think it’s worth it. The beach here is beautiful and stretches at least a mile. There is a path that runs between the ocean and the hotels for easy access to everything. In the middle is Whalers Village with plenty is shopping and ladies take out your wallets for the outlet mall in Lahaina. The shopping here is like a dream.   The prices here are a little higher than Kihei but they do have an ABC store in Whalers Village to get everything you need. There is something about Hawaii that keeps us coming back. I can’t really explain it. It’s just something you have to experience.

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Colleen’s Hawaii Holiday – Part 2

After 2 relaxing days at the beach we decided to do something I have always wanted to do but never found the time: We are going to do the Road to Hana. Lots has been written about this trek and I think I have read them all. We are fortunate to have the Road to Hana CD in our condo so we took that along for reference. In all the books it says to stop in at Hana Picnic Lunch Co. for a lunch to take along and to get all the up to date Hana weather, road conditions and info to enjoy your trip. Truth is, they must pay a lot for that advertising as they asked us about getting the CD and bug spray and that was it.

To be fair the girl there was very nice and the food was good, but you could pack your own lunch or eat at one of he many stops on the highway. There is also a gas station right next door that sells food and styrofoam coolers. If anything I would recommend a stop here for the smoothie. It was perfect.

A couple of things that will make the trip better is to get started early:
– It is a long day and will leave you with more time to hit some spots along the way.
– Get gas before you get to Paia. The gas stations there were more expensive and were really busy.
– Take your runners not your sandals if you are wanting to trek to some of the falls. The trails are wet and muddy.
– Stop as often as you can. There are so many great places to stop and hike in to see falls or to just look at the coast line. Some places are pretty high up so the views are fantastic.
– Stop at Halfway to Hana for some of the best banana bread you will ever eat. We arrived just as it was coming out of the oven. It doesn’t get better than that.

About 15 mins before you hit Hana you will come across about 5 restaurants all side by side. From the amount of cars parked there I would assume they have great food. We opted to continue to Hana bay to eat our lunch we purchased in Paia. Yes the roads are narrow and winding and you have to drive slow but it is an experience you shouldn’t miss. We left Paia at 9:00 ( I know I didn’t take my own advice about leaving early but wished I did) and got back around 4:00 so it is a long day but was so much fun. Another thing off the bucket list.

Trail at Waikamoi

Trail at Waikamoi

Hana Highway

Hana Highway

Colleen’s Hawaii Holiday – Part 1

Aloha from Maui.

We had the chance to fly on Air Canada’s new product Rouge. This is their no frills flight from Vancouver to Maui. There is a charge for meals with water, pop, and coffee free. It was great to be greeted by a lot of young flight attendants happy to welcome you aboard. Nothing was too much trouble for them and they were happy to get everyone settled and on our way. There are no screens on the aircraft. They do supply a wide range of movies and TV shows, but you need to supply your own tablet or smartphone. The catch is that you have to download the app before you fly. If you don’t, then your only option is to rent a tablet from them for $10.00.

We arrived in Maui 10 mins early and our luggage was off within 20 minutes. We then went off to pickup our shuttle for our car rental. We booked a car rental with Advantage, but they are not located in the car rental building so you have to go out the front doors and stand by pole 2 in order to be picked up. The shuttle comes every 10 mins and it’s not long before we had our car and went our on our way to South Kihei. We decided to rent a condo in South Kihei that was recommended to us. It is the Kihei Kai Nani and is in a great location right across the street from Kamaole Beach Park II. We are in the first building so we are literally minutes from the beach. The condo has been recently renovated and is beautiful and clean. I love staying in a condo for many reasons – one of them being that we have a separate bedroom, we can cook some of our own meals and they usually come with all the beach toys. We have beach chairs, beach umbrella, beach towels, boogie boards, snorkel equipment. There are also floaty toys and beach toys which is great if you have kids. All you need to do is show up. We are also right next door to Moose McGillycuddy’s and many other great restaurants and shops. Contact me and I can give you the details on this condo. You won’t be disappointed.

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Colleen’s Mayan Vacation Part 3

The beauty of staying at a very large resort is that you have a lot of restaurants to choose from and the Barcelo has restaurants in spades. The restaurants have to be reserved in advance so we went to Guest Services office on Sunday morning and booked all our restaurants. The number of restaurant nights that you are able to reserve will depend on which hotel you book, number of nights that you are staying and if you are booked in a Club Premium room. We were able to go to 5 different restaurants.

The first restaurant that we went to was the Santa Fe which is a steak house. Our waiters weredressed in western wear with a western theme.  So if you’re looking for a great steak, this might be the one for you. Our next restaurant was the Capri which is an Italian restaurant. The food here was great and our chef was Italian. Some of the Italian customers stopped to have a quick chat about the food and it seemed to be a heated debate. They also have a wood oven to cook their pizza so we had to sample that too. The Mexican Lindo restaurant in the Maya Beach is a great atmosphere and we tried a lot of different dishes, but not too spicy. We also went to the Tokyo restaurant in the Maya Mall. I always love sitting around the table watching the chef cook and meeting your dinner companions for the night. There was just way to much food and we left happy and full. Our last night was at the La Trattoria another Italian restaurant. We love Italian food and were happy to be able to sample both. The menus were very different except for the wood stove pizza that we had to have again. There were many other restaurants to choose from but there are only so many nights. At each restaurant, there is a wine menu if you would like to purchase a bottle of wine instead of the wine supplied. If you are really into wines, you might want to pay as the wine served with dinner was not very good.

All other restaurants for breakfast and lunch are buffet.  Just a note about breakfast, try to get there before 9:00am as it gets really busy and the service gets behind. We usually ate at the Rancho Grill for lunch as they had the most extensive buffet.

No matter the restaurant, we always found something that we liked and the staff was really great. Sometimes they were run off their feet but would always get to you with a smile. Food is always a big part of our holiday and we were not disappointed with any of the restaurants.  Another big plus to book at the Barcelo Hotel on the Mayan.

Czar’s California Dream – Part 3

If Disney was an ode to my childhood, Universal hits the spot when it comes to my movie buff lovin’ side.

First off, it was a long day that began with a 8:15am pickup just outside our hotel courtesy of Southern California Grayline Tours. Included with our pickup was entry into Universal Studios. As we drove down, our driver Charles gave us a guided tour of Los Angeles and we were able to see the faint Hollywood sign in the distance. As we pulled up to Universal, Charles gave us instructions on where to meet him and how to best maximize our day at the park.

I think my favourite attraction has got to be “Waterworld”, an amazing live action show with plenty of explosions and craziness all in front of you. Another fav would be “The Studio Tour”, which covers some of the historic backlot where lots of our favourite movies were filmed, and combines some 3D action, a flash flood, a simulated earthquake and more! Both are equally exciting and show the quality of entertainment that Universal puts out there. They even have a section dedicated to “The Simpsons”. You can even head to “Moe’s” for a “Flaming Moe” to quench your thirst buds.
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So many people here, but Universal has these cool down stations where you can stand in front of these large fans that also sprays a fine mist on you. They also have these misting sprays in the lineups for most of their attractions. This is something I didn’t see at Disney but they should definitely invest in this too! I’m curious if it has something to do with the water shortage in California.
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After a long day at Universal, we left around 7pm back to our hotel. Glad we saw it, but I could use a day off these feet and away from lineups.

My last day was a visit to Laguna Beach. Renting a car and driving to the beach was a smart move after what felt like endless days. Finally, we can soak up this amazing weather without interruption.

What’s great about the drive between Anaheim to Laguna/Newport or Hunnington Beach? It’s easy! No highways. No tolls. Just an easy 20 minute drive down two streets and you are at the coast and it does not disappoint. The beaches are wide and the water is perfect for those California surfers and the wannabes who test it out for themselves.
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Enjoying a day at the beach puts the cherry on top of this amazing holiday!

Colleen’s Mayan Vacation Part 2

If you ever considered taking your kids on a hot holiday but weren’t sure where you could go, look no further as the Barcelo has everything you are looking for. This hotel has enough to keep your kids entertained for days. Let’s start at Stricker’s which is open 24 hours for the kids to do 10 pin bowling and when they get tired of that, they can play at the arcade. They can get snacks there anytime. If your kids like the pool, they can try Pirates Island Water Park with water slides and a surf rider. Each pool also has its own children’s pool area.

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If you ever wanted to swim with the dolphins, the Barcelo has it’s own Dolphinaris. Here you can experience a dolphin encounter starting at $82.00USD. It is literally 2 minute walk from our room. If you don’t want to get in the pool with the Dolphins you can just watch from the covered patio.
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Take a walk in the Mall and you will find a carousel for the kids and One disco club for your teens. One of the other popular things that the kids are doing is buying a piece of pottery either a fish, lizard or a pot and then they are painting it and taking it home with them.

Down by the beach they have a basketball court, volleyball court and a rock climbing wall. You can always find a soccer game down on the beach.

There is also a kids club for the little ones. They have a club house and an enclosed park so the kids can play outside.

The Barcelo has it all for your kids to have a great holiday.

Colleen’s Mayan Vacation

Hola form the Barcelo Hotel on the Riviera Maya.

We arrived on Saturday to our new home for the next week, the Barcelo Maya Caribe. At first glance it looks like a smaller hotel but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In actuality the Barcelo has 5 resorts side by side so you can actually stay at one but go to all four. It is a huge resort where you can find a lot to do and it has a ton of restaurants to choose from.

All the buildings here are no more than 3 floors so it never feels overwhelming. The grounds are very tropical and well maintained. Because you can wander all the resorts you have access to 7 huge pools each with a kids area at each pool. Yes, if you’re looking for a resort with no kids, this is not it.
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The first thing we see when we arrive is a large shopping mall with stores and restaurants on each side. Down some stairs and across to the next resort is the Plaza Mexicana with vendors of all types. So there is no need to go to town to shop since they have everything here. A liquor store the official Corona store and lots of Saskatchewan Roughrider things to buy.
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Now that it is the summer, there are a lot of Spanish people here so the resort is catering to them. It is great to hear more Mexican music, a wider assortment of Mexican foods at the buffet, and last night we saw a Mariachi band in the mall. I have been to a lot of resorts on the Mayan and this is the first Mariachi band that I have seen. Thanks Barcelo for bringing in the Mexican flavour that so many hotels ignore.


If you have any questions about the Barcelo hotel, email me at and I will try to get them answered for you.