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Aloha, New Hawaii

We don't need to tell you that Hawaii is a great place to chill. What you may not know, though, is that a travel agent's fantasy list of cool new stuff has made the Aloha State a better place to visit than ever before. From the shops and hotels at Waikiki, to fantastic new ways to access the natural wonders of Kauai and the Big Island, Hawaii is rockin' a whole new world.


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MAUI

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Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
To say you’ll be living in the lap of luxury is an understatement at the Wailea Beach Villas, an oceanfront resort opened in May 2006. The incredibly large two- and three-bedroom condominiums, each with a fully equipped gourmet kitchen (including Sub-Zero refrigerator and granite countertops), reach a new high note on the indulgence scale. Wailea Beach Villas, 3800 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, (808) 891-4500, www.waileabeachvillas.com, $1,100–$2,500.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua (pictured) was due to reopen last month after a $130 million renovation. The lavishly redone rooms include flat-screen LCD televisions, hardwood floors, and marble bathrooms. The hotel’s fabulous new spa seems designed for romance, with its cabanas for couples, yoga studio, and treatment rooms with private outdoor shower gardens. Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, 1 Ritz-Carlton Dr., Kapalua, (808) 669-6200, www.ritzcarlton.com, $600–$2,100.

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The Wailea Marriott scored a culinary coup when celeb chef Mark Ellman chose the hotel for his Mala Wailea, a spin-off of the acclaimed Mala Ocean Tavern. The original in Lahaina is still a hot spot, serving up Island-Mediterranean totally delicious food. Mala Wailea, 3900 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, (808) 879-1922, www.marriott.com; Mala Ocean Tavern, 1307 Front St., Lahaina, (808) 667-9394, www.malaoceantavern.com.

Courtesy of the Four Seasons
Prepare to be knocked out by Duo’s (pictured) setting—amazing even by Wailea’s Bali Hai standards—and its delicacies from sea and land fit for a 25th wedding anniversary blowout. The Four Seasons’ newest Maui restaurant charges by the ounce for its designer Kobe beef; a steak can run you as much as a Coach purse. Ask the astute servers for a recommendation on one of the hundreds of international wines the restaurant offers. Duo, 3900 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, (808) 874-8000, www.fourseasons.com/maui.

The spruced-up Ritz-Carlton offers a pair of great dining options: Try the seafood, including moi (the fish once reserved for Hawaiian royalty) at the hotel’s signature restaurant, the Banyan Tree. The restaurant features spectacular views of the Pacific and the island of Molokai, and live music five nights a week. As an alternative, sushi lovers should check out the innovative Japanese cuisine at Kai Sushi Bak. Ritz-Carlton, 1 Ritz-Carlton Dr., Kapalua; Banyan Tree, (808) 665-7096; Kai Sushi Bak, (808) 665-7040; www.ritzcarlton.com.

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Courtesy of Maui Canyon Adventures

Need excitement? In August, Maui Canyon Adventures (pictured) began offering canyoning, a combination of hiking, rappelling down waterfalls, jumping into pools, swimming, and climbing, all with experienced guides. Maui Canyon Adventures, 285 Hukilike St., B-104, Kahului, (808) 270-1500, www.mauicanyons.com.

The owners of Lahaina restaurants Pacific’O and I’o have cultivated eight-plus acres in up-country Kula where they harvest salad greens, vegetables, citrus, stone fruits, and berries. Tour O‘o Farm with a chef who will help you pick your own lunch. O’o Farm, 651 Waipoli Rd., Kula, (808) 667-4341, www.pacificomaui.com.

For a little relaxation, check out the spa at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. The spa offers cocoon beds and Vichy showers, as well as private Hawaiian-style oceanfront hale. While at the Four Seasons, take a tour of a new art collection encompassing work from Hawaii statehood in 1959 to the present. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, 3900 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, (808) 874-8000, www.fourseasons.com/maui.

For a vacation without the hassle of planning, check out the custom trips arranged by Pure Maui. Comprehensive packages include adventure boot camps, family vacations, surfing/yoga trips, and more. Pure Maui, (866) 787-6284, www.puremaui.com.

OAHU

Courtesy of Hotel Renew

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Waikiki Beach WalkWaikiki Beach Walk, Lewers St. between Kalia Rd. and Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, .

The Royal Hawaiin Shopping Center, the Rodeo Drive of Waikiki, has undergonea $115 million renovation since 2005. Shoppers flock to Fendi, Cartier, Hermes, and Salvatore Ferragamo; foodies feast at trendy hangouts liike P.F. Chang's and Wolfgang Puck's W's Steak. The center also houses ethnobotanical gardens and a traditional Hawaiian hale called the Royal Grove, offering entertainment and cultural events. Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, 2201 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, (808) 922-0588. www.royalhawaiianshoppingcenter.com.

Tired travelers rejuvenate at Spa Pure, a new full-service day spa at the Wyland Waikiki Hotel. Treatments include lomi lomi massage, shiatsu, and Ganban Yoku, a Japanese technique using stone tables that generate low infrared heat to cleanse and detoxify the body. Spa Pure, 400 Royal Hawaiian Ave., Honolulu, (808) 924-3200, www.spapurewaikiki.com.

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Embassy Suites Hotel Embassy Suites, 201 Beach Walk St., Honolulu, (800) 362-2779, , $399–$649.

The renovation of the Outrigger Reef on Waikiki Beach includes VIP pool services and enormous bathtubs. The resort’s new Ocean Tower guest rooms are now open. Outrigger Reef on the Beach, (303) 369-7777, www.outriggerreefwaikikibeachwalk.com, $205–$600.

The 70-room boutique Hotel Renew (pictured), scheduled for a grand opening in March, reaches out to environmentally conscious travelers with in-room recycling and nontoxic room cleaning. The cool limestone and sandblasted oak décor provides a calming respite from island kitsch. Hotel Renew, 129 Paoakalani Ave., Waikiki Beach, (808) 687-7700, www.hotelrenew.com, $300–$370.

Enjoy spectacular views of the North Shore’s famous waves from Turtle Bay Resort’s new beachfront bungalows and villas. The Spa Luana offers “indigenous treatments,” such as coffee–macadamia nut body scrubs. Turtle Bay Resort, 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy., Kahuku, (808) 293-6000, www.turtlebayresort.com, $269–$2,275.

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Nobu Waikiki at the Waikiki Parc Hotel opened its doors last May to the delight of visitors from around the world. Nobu Matsuhisa’s new spot serves innovative Japanese cuisine: sushi and sashimi taken to an extreme degree of inventive refinement, and creative dishes such as Tasmanian ocean trout with crispy spinach and yuzu soy. Nobu Waikiki, 2233 Helumoa Rd., Honolulu, (808) 237-6999, www.noburestaurants.com.

James Beard award–winning chef and local favorite Roy Yamaguchi has opened his latest Roy’s Restaurant, featuring his famous Hawaiian fusion cuisine, at the Beach Walk. Roy’s Waikiki, 226 Lewers St., Honolulu, (808) 923-7697, www.roysrestaurant.com.

Downtown Honolulu’s romantic wine bar Brasserie Du Vin serves mussels, artisan cheeses, and frites—but wine is the star at this European-style brasserie. Brasserie Du Vin, 1115 Bethel St., Honolulu, (808) 545-1115, www.brasserieduvin.com.

LANA'I

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Courtesy of the Four Seasons

At the newly renovated Four Seasons Lodge at Koele (pictured), you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a British colony. Nestled among acres of towering Cook Island pines and palm trees, this resort has all the tranquility of a charming country estate—without any of the stuffiness. And, at more than 1,600 feet above sea level, the lodge promises cooler temperatures—with the beach still only a 20-minute shuttle ride to the Four Seasons sister resort, Manele Bay.

The warm, tastefully decorated rooms at the Lodge have plush beds with down duvets and four-posters carved with pineapple finials—a nod to the island’s pineapple plantation history. All rooms have brand-new flat-screen TVs and DVD players. After you soak in the deep, luxurious tub and snuggle up in your terry robe, take in the view of the sunset from your private lanai.

Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele, One Keomoku Hwy., Lana’i City, (808) 565-4000, www.fourseasons.com/koele, $345–$1,500.

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Courtesy of the Four Seasons
For a truly spectacular meal in luxe environs, make a reservation at the Lodge at Koele’s Dining Room (pictured), where the revamped menu offers traditional European dishes with a decidedly Hawaiian twist, such as Maui lavender honey–roasted duck breast and white chocolate pineapple mousse. The Dining Room, One Keomoku Hwy., Lana’i City, (808) 565-4580, www.fourseasons.com/koele.

Couples looking for island-style romance can head to the Four Seasons Ihilani at Manele Bay to find candlelight, a contemporary Italian menu with a stellar wine list, and an ocean view with a sunset so beautiful you’ll practically have a religious experience. Ihilani, Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, Manele Bay, One Manele Bay Rd., Lana’i City, (808) 565-2296, www.fourseasons.com/manelebay.

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The Lodge at Koele has games and activities throughout the grounds. You can spend the day playing croquet or lawn bowling, golfing, or testing your archery skills. If you’re seeking solitude and calm, head to the stables for horseback riding or hike through the Koele highlands, where you might spot pheasant, deer, or turkey. Be sure to return in time for the delicious afternoon tea in the Great Hall. Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, the Lodge at Koele, One Keomoku Hwy., Lana’i City, (808) 565-4000, www.fourseasons.com/koele.

If you’re up for adventure, the best way to explore the island is in a 4X4 jeep. Don’t miss the Garden of the Gods, a surprisingly arid region strewn with boulders of all shapes and sizes, and Shipwreck Beach, where many a ship has met its demise on the rugged coral reef (no swimming allowed there). Jeep rentals available at Adventure Lana’i Ecocentre, (808) 565-7373, www.adventurelanai.com.

KAUAI


Courtesy of Princeville Ranch Adventures
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The best way to see Kauai, the oldest and wildest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, is from as many vantage points as possible. Test your endurance with a 12-mile bike adventure (sunrise or sunset) from Waimea Canyon on the island’s western coast. Or, thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, get a bird’s-eye view of the island in a state-of-the-art chopper. You’ll dangle along the cliffs of the Na Pali coast, dip between mountains to see waterfalls and rainbows, and hover over clay-colored canyons. Outfitters Kauai, (808) 742-9667, www.outfitterskauai.com/bikedown.html; Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, (808) 245-5800, www.bluehawaiian.com.

Back on solid ground, take a guided hike up famed “GreenHill” (pictured), where you’ll encounter Kauai’s rainforest and Kalihiwai Falls—before cooling off in a pristine swimming hole. Princeville Ranch Adventures, (888) 955-7669, www.adventureskauai.com/hike.html.
 

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Courtesy of Princeville Resorts
If luxury is what you’re looking for, plan to stay at the Grand Hyatt on the south shore. You may never want to leave the open-air lobby and bar. But finish your mai tai and put on your bathing suit, because the Hyatt’s pool, lagoon, and beach beckon. So does the renovated Anara Spa, one of Hawaii’s most famous pampering spots. Get your lomi lomi massage in an open-air hale. Grand Hyatt Kaui Resort and Spa, 1571 Poipu Rd., Koloa, (808) 742-1234, www.kauai.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp, $430–$5,400.

On the north shore, Princeville Resort (pictured) will undergo a huge renovation beginning in May, scheduled for completion in March 2009. In the meantime, party it up at 5520, the posh nightclub the resort opened last year. Princeville Resort, 5520 Ka Haku Rd., Princeville, (808) 826-9644, www.princevillehotelhawaii.com, $600–$875.

For a more authentic experience on the quiet western side of the island, check into Waimea Plantation Cottages. Here, palm trees guard the resort’s new Hideaway Spa, and small signs read “Watch for falling coconuts.” Waimea Plantation Cottages and A Hideaway Spa, 9400 Kaumualii Hwy., Waimea, (808) 338-1625, www.waimea-plantation.com, $275–$800.

Keep your eyes on Poipu because in the summer of 2008, the luxurious contemporary Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort will open at the location where the Poipu Beach Hotel stood before Hurricane Iniki destroyed it in 1992. Ko’a Kea Hotel, (877) 806-2288, www.koakea.com, $395–$2,575.

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Courtesy of Bar Acuda
Hawaii is a seafood lover’s paradise, but if you’re tired of ono and mahi mahi, check out the delicious Pan-Asian cuisine at Yum Cha in Koloa. Yum Cha, 2250 Ainako St., Koloa, (808) 742-1515.

Bay Area natives will appreciate the culinary aesthetic at Bar Acuda (pictured), which emphasizes local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients. This familiar refrain should come as no surprise: owner Jim Moffat is the former chef of San Francisco’s 42 Degrees and the Slow Club. Bar Acuda, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, (808) 826-7081, www.restaurantbaracuda.com.

On the west side, the Hanapepe Park Farmers Market has seen an explosion in popularity in the last few years. Eat like the locals and try the one of the world’s juiciest mangoes, which sell for next to nothing. Hanapepe Park Farmers Market, Old Hanapepe Town, Hanapepe, (808) 742-1834.

Head to Waimea Brewing Company, a local favorite, and try the new Different Time Zone IPA, a hops-charged ale that might knock you out of your seat. Waimea Brewing Company, 9400 Kaumuali`i Hwy., (808) 338-9733, www.waimeabrewing.com.

It’s not all that new, but you probably haven’t heard of the far-off-the-beaten path Kilauea Bakery, which serves a macadamia nut butter cookie to die for. Kilauea Bakery, Kong Lung Center, 2484 Keneke St., off Lighthouse Rd., Kilauea, (808) 828-2020.

Hawaii

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Courtesy of the 'Imiloa Center
The newest, hottest reason to go to the Big Island: the island itself. Where else can you walk on rocks—created by the lava-spewing Kilauea—that are younger than you are? To help you navigate the living laboratory, the Big Island Visitors Bureau has published a new science travel guide. Another science highlight is the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (pictured) in Hilo. The center, housed in an eco-friendly building, features a planetarium, exhibits on space exploration, and the Science on a Sphere video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Staffers here know what they’re talking about: The Big Island is home to world-class observatories with astronomers from 11 countries. Big Island Science Guide, (808) 961-5797, www.bigisland.org/activities-learning; ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, 600 ‘Imiloa Pl., (808) 969-9700, www.imiloahawaii.org.

Get your head out of the clouds and your feet on the ground at the 2008 Great Waiomina Centennial Celebration. The town of Waimea and the Paniolo Preservation Society host trail rides, rodeos, and concerts all year. The beautiful 158-year-old Anna Ranch, a working ranch at the base of the Kohala Mountains, opens its doors to the public two days a week. Great Waiomina Centennial Celebration, www.paniolopreservation.org; Anna Ranch, 65-1480 Kawaihae Rd., Kamuela, (808) 885-4426, www.annaranch.org.

For shopping, explore the Queens’ MarketPlace and Cultural Gardens—a 28-acre, $200 million facility opened last year in the Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Kohala Coast. The shopping center has gardens and a vast performance space. Queens’ MarketPlace and Cultural Gardens, (808) 886-8822, www.waikoloabeachresort.com.
The Mauna Lani Resort also opened a huge shopping center last year, the Shops at Mauna Lani, which houses Tommy Bahama’s and Caché, among other stores. The Shops at Mauna Lani, 68-1330 Mauna Lani Dr., (808) 885-9501, www.shopsatmaunalani.com.

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Courtesy of the Canoe House
Last year, chef Dee Ann Tsurumaki came home from Hong Kong and is now the chef de cuisine at Mauna Lani’s CanoeHouse (pictured). On the menu: lamb medallions with star anise and orange, and grilled and split whole Kona lobster with mashed potatoes, edamame, and asparagus. CanoeHouse, 68-1400 Mauna Lani Dr., Kohala Coast, (808) 881-7911,www.maunalani.com.

On Saturday mornings, follow the chefs to the Waimea Hawaiian Homestead Farmers Market. The market used to offer a smattering of goods; now it’s huge—especially on the first Saturday of the month—and local foodies regard it as the best in the state. Wandering among the more than 40 vendors, you may find bamboo shoots, goat cheese, Waipi’o poi, organic greens, and killer papaya. Waimea Hawaiian Homestead Farmers Market, Kuhio Hale Building, Mamalahoa Hwy., two miles east of town.

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Courtesy of Marriot
The Big Island’s newest luxe location, the boutique Ahu Pohaku Ho`omaluhia retreat, is a solar-powered lodge on 60 acres of dramatic North Kohala shoreline. Ahu Pohaku Ho’omaluhia bills itself as a holistic wellness destination. The lodge limits the number of guests to 20, has a large yoga studio, and grows most of its own food, flowers, and even kukui nuts (used to produce the oil for the spa’s healing treatments). Ahu Pohaku Ho`omaluhia, 54-250 Lokani Rd., Hawi, (808) 889-6336, www.hawaii-island-retreat.com, $285–$450.

The big resorts along the Kohala Coast have been scrubbed and polished, and their extensive list of offerings enhanced. The Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa (pictured) at historic Anaeho`omalu Bay added a huge Mandara Spa, with a long list of rejuvenating treatments, steam rooms, and a salon (and a new saltwater infinity pool). Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, 69-275 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, (808) 886-6789, $259–$329.

For science lovers, the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort in Kona has renovated rooms and is working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on nature programs for guests. Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort, 78-6740 Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona, (808) 322-3441, www.outrigger.com, $155–$509.

- By Peter Crooks, Andrea Ferretti, Bonnie Friedman, Justin Goldman, Nora Isaacs, Michaela Jarvis, Paige Porter, Maria Streshinsky
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