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    Oahu Guide Part 2: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

    February 28, 2018

    Hawaii is second home to me. When my mother immigrated to the U.S, her first home was Hawaii before settling in California. I’ve been going back for over 15 years and there’s always something new that I haven’t explored. 

    We got to stay at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Waikiki. It was unlike any hotel experience I’ve had on the island. It was unique in that it combines laid back retro cool with modern local elements. The Surfjack is visually stunning; we love the mid-century modern vibes with touches of hip Honolulu detail like the Shaka and pineapple patterns. Our room felt like our own little bungalow in Waikiki instead of a standard hotel room.

    The designers envisioned a space for hotel guests to understand the true local Honolulu experience without being kitschy and cliched. The city has been experiencing a cultural renaissance, priding itself in its strong art, food, and art scene. The core idea is to bring this cultural pride back into Waikiki to make for a richer and more fulfilling experience.

    With an Olive & Oliver outpost along with Mahina & Sun’s serving as hotel’s restaurant, The Surfjack showcases the movers, shakers, and creators of the Honolulu scene. The hotel also provides weekly activities such as poolside film screenings, workshops led by local companies (like flower crown making courtesy of Paiko), pilates, and live music for both locals and travelers to partake and share in the community space.  

    I’m the type of person that loves a hotel that pays attention to details and is immersive in local experiences. I felt the deep sense of community, love, and pride in the hotel. For once, I actually slowed down and enjoyed the experience of being at a hotel and not feel so rushed to be out and about. If you’re looking for a unique and refreshed experience of Waikiki, the Surfjack is a hotel you should stay at. I’ll definitely be back.

     

    Oahu Guide Part 1: Kualoa Ranch

    February 27, 2018

    Hawaii! This trip was my very first time to Oahu. And when it’s my first time traveling to a new place I like to do all that touristy stuff. I mean, there is a reason why everyone goes there right?

    Our first stop was Kualoa Ranch, a beautiful nature reserve about 24 miles from Honolulu​. It’s natural beauty has made it the perfect backdrop for countless movies and TV shows such as Jumanji, 50 first Dates, Jurassic Park, the Karate Kid, Lost, and Hawaii 5-0 which is still being filmed in Oahu.

    It seemed like a must see for tourists in Oahu. The ranch offers a host of activities meant to take advantage of the expanse and beauty of the reserve. There was so much to do that we divided our activities throughout our entire trip.

    They offer several tours such as a Movie Ranch tour, Jungle tour, and Catamaran tour. You can also ride ATVs or go on horseback. The first activity we did was the Movie Ranch Tour. You hop on an old school bus and the tour guides points out where various movies were filmed. There are a couple stops where you’re able to get off the bus to explore. I remember seeing the bunker where episodes of “Lost” were filmed, and also feeling like I was actually in Jurassic Park.

    On the second day, we were supposed to do the Jungle Ranch Tour. Unfortunately, we were late, and were unable to hop on that tour. I suggest making reservations in advance. A week before our trip it was easy enough to call to book for the times and tours we wanted. However, if you don’t check in 15 minutes prior to your reservation, they will give it away.

    Instead, we went ATV riding. The raptor ATVs  allows you to ride with several people in the ATVs as opposed to individually. It was the best way to explore Kualoa Ranch, as the open structure of the ATV, paired with the ability to drive through the ranch with the tour guide gave you a more intimate look of Kualoa.  It poured that day, but that didn’t stop the tour from happening and actually made it more fun! They provide ponchos to keep your clothes dry, but riding around in ATVs in warm rain, and going through puddles through the beautiful terrain was an unforgettable experience.

    Kualoa Ranch in recent years has also taken to developing parts of Kualoa ranch to not only be self-sustaining but to sustain Hawaii as well. It is an active ranch, with handlers cultivating different crops, like Cacao, and taking care of the fish and cows to ensure Hawaii continues to thrive well into the future.

    I was in awe of this experience. I didn’t think a place this beautiful existed. It never got old for me. I went there 3 times and I couldn’t get enough of it. Kualoa Ranch is a must visit in Oahu.

     

    Explore: Indian Springs Resort

    October 25, 2017

    One of my best friends had her bachelorette weekend at the Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga. Located in the heart of Napa Valley, Calistoga is a small town nestled amongst the beautiful wineries, restaurants, and scenery that the area is known for. It is also home to the famous natural hot springs that feeds into many of the resorts and hotels.


    The lovely bride-to-be wanted a relaxing weekend with good food and friends. Calistoga was the perfect getaway. It was definitely a lady vacation that was well needed by all.

    The resort is a gorgeous sanctuary in the middle of Calistoga. The Spanish style buildings are sprawled out amongst the premises with different types of accommodations; there are individual rooms as well as cottages suitable for different party sizes and needs.

    As you enter the resort, a palm tree lined drive way welcomes you and hints at the tranquility awaiting you. One person in our party commented that it seemed like a Palm Springs getaway and it did feel that way. It felt surreal to only be an hour away from San Francisco, especially amidst all the natural beauty.
    The grounds of the resort reads more like a playground for adults with bicycles available to use at around town. There’s also bocce courts, cricket, shuffle board, hammocks, and blown up versions of checkers.


    There were walking paths, gardens, spa treatments (massages, mudbaths etc.) and my favorite amenity: the Olympic sized pool. It draws its water source from the natural geyers keeping the temperature a comfortable 90 degrees. It felt like we were soaking in an enlarged heated bath. The water is also high in minerals and purported to have healing, restorative properties.

    There’s a restaurant and bar on the premise if you don’t want to venture out of the hotel. The rooms are spacious and airy, decorated with creams and blues with complimentary snacks and all the amenities you need to make your stay comfortable. I loved how the rooms had impossibly fluffy robes for each guest.

    We found ourselves spending most of our time relaxing by the pool. We would spend the day taking naps in the shaded chairs and floating in the water. At night, we would take a dip in the pool, relax, and talk while stargazing. It felt perfect.

    Calistoga is a picturesque town made to be a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. It is a popular spot for couples on honeymoon, anniversaries, large groups, bachelorette/bachelor weekends and it’s not hard to see why.


    If you’re looking for a place to unplug and relax for a quick getaway outside of San Francisco, look no further than Calistoga.

    Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, we had to cut our celebration short.  Early Monday morning of our trip we made the decision to leave due to the Northbay fires. The town was completely out of electricity. Even though we were not under mandatory evacuation at the time, we thought it best to leave the area immediately. Driving through Calistoga without electricity and traffic lights to guide you was eerie. Seeing the fires up on the hillsides, and driving through the thick smoke was very scary.
    More importantly, our hearts go out to the people affected by the fires, who have lost homes, family and friends. Our thanks goes out to the medical personnel, first responders, and firefighters who tirelessly continue to risk their lives to battle the fires, lead clean up efforts, and help the people put their lives back together.
    If you would like to help please click here. Our local news channel is constantly updating their website with current information of what is needed and where.

    Explore: Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

    October 18, 2017

    Photo Credit: Tara Rock

    Adrienne and I have a much needed Hawaii vacation set for early next year. Not only am I excited to go back to my second home, I’m even more pumped to bring Adrienne since it will be her first time in O’ahu. It’s been a few years since I went back, but I’ve heard that the creative scene is thriving.

    Photo Credit: Tara Rock

    Quick back story: My mother immigrated to the United States back in the early ’70s. Before she settled down and met my dad in California, the first place she called home in the U.S was Hawaii, specifically Kalihi, a suburb of Honolulu. She still has fond memories of Hawaii; the constant beautiful weather, endless rows of pineapple plantations, the smell of plumeria in the air. It’s no wonder that I feel a deep connection to the island.

    Photo Credit: Tara Rock

    After doing my research, I knew my next trip would include a stay at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Waikiki. Their goal is to create an authentic connection for its guests to Hawaii, its people, and its history. The idea is that by creating this type of experience, travelers would gain a better understanding of the rich culture of the island and (hopefully) work towards appreciating, preserving, and respecting it.

    Photo Credit: Tara Rock

    I’m a big fan of how the Surfjack highlights local designers and makers. From serving Hawaii sourced food at their on-site restaurant, Mahina and Sons, to hosting an outpost of Olive and Oliver, an O’ahu-based boutique, this attention to supporting local is key to what makes the Surfjack extra special to me.

    Photo Credit: Mariko Reed

    The blending of vintage Hawaii and modern details makes for such a well designed hotel without being kitschy. Far too often, I’ve felt hotel design can be stuffy and nauseating. The Surfjack is far from that. I love how the geometric printed walls and tiles brings a sense of whimsy and playfulness to the space. These thoughtful decorative touches always reels me.

    Photo Credit: Mariko Reed

    The Surfjack has a very 1960s Explorer’s Club vibe theme akin to Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The interior continues with the keeping it local vibes by filling the space with Hawaii-based artists and designers. It’s no wonder that the Surfjack has been become the hub for an artistic movement.

    Photo Credit: Mariko Reed

    And, of course, we want to spend the afternoon lounging (or yoga-ing) by their famous postcard worthy pool. Don’t you just want to jump in it?

    Photo Credit: Mariko Reed

    Stay tuned as we continue to prep for our very first Style Approximately getaway to Hawaii. We can’t wait to share with all of you the things we are excited to do, explore, shop, and eat!