Entering 2018, I told myself that this was going to be the year I traveled to my top 3 bucket list locations: Bali, Tulum, and Hawaii. Well, just two weeks into the year I went to Tulum, and I am happy to report that I just embarked on my first ever trip to HAWAII! And it was a total dream!
Two locations down, one to go!
When Hawaiian Airlines reached out and informed me of their new curated wellness content series accessible through their In-Flight Entertainment System, I was so impressed. To all of my followers with gluten-allergies or other dietary restrictions out there, I’m sure you know what I mean when I say traveling with your restriction can be a total BTCH! Not only can it be tough to find healthy, allergy-friendly meal options on the flight, but when has an airline ever cared if you knew proper pre- and post-flight stretching techniques and other wellness hacks that would get you through your flight comfortably?!
FIRST, I have to discuss my first-class experience! As you can see in the photo above, the seats in first class fully recline into beds! Fun fact- I sometimes have bad anxiety when I fly! I don’t know when it started, but let’s just say small spaces and turbulence are a bad recipe for my anxiety. On both my flight to Hawaii and flight home, I had ZERO anxiety!! Furthermore, I slept like a baby each way! On the way home, my friend told me that we had a 30-minute period of rough air, but I COMPLETELY slept through it! I was THAT comfortable. And this anxious flyer was actually DISAPPOINTED when the pilot came on to announce there were only 30 minutes left in our trip. I could have laid in my seat forever!
The plane staff COULDN’T have been kinder and more accommodating with any of my needs. They were aware of my gluten-allergy, and kept me fully supplied with macadamia nuts and the other gluten-free options as I traveled. Bravo Top Chef Alum, Lee Anne Wong, is the new official Chef for Hawaiian Airlines, which explains how delicious and unique the menu is! Although there is no set gluten-free menu, because the flight offers two options on three occasions throughout the flight, you will be able to eat something! I ordered a rice bowl with an egg on top for breakfast on my way to Hawaii, and snacked on the airlines’ macadamia nuts the entire trip to and from the island!
- Pre-Flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M3oO_rVT-8&t=21s
- In-Flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCXImGWy8FM&t=82s
- Post-Flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e78Yxsbfb7E&t=287s
First stop, Maui!
We stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani, and the resort was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. The resort has 413 One-Bedroom Suites and 37 Villas (Two or Three-Bedrooms), and also has three swimming pools including one adult-only pool! My suite was so comfortable, and although it was just for me, I totally could have had a family with me! The room had a comfortable living room with a desk, couch, and TV, beautiful bar area, a bathroom meant for a queen, and a master bedroom with a large balcony that spanned the length of the hotel room. With my jet lag, I woke up each morning and enjoyed my smoothie while watching the sunrise from my balcony. It was a dream!
The Fairmont launched an Inspire Your Energy program to empower their guests through innovating exercise and motivating workshops. The program provides an integrated approach by enjoying the surroundings of Wailea, distinct mana (energy) and Hawaiian culture.
At the property I received a Customized HydraFacial. The 60 minute treatment cleansed, exfoliated, extracted, and hydrated my skin and the treatment included a Vortex-Fusion of antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid. This facial was the first facial I’ve ever received where I actually looked in the mirror after and said “WOW.” My skin was glowing, I literally looked younger, and I had NO reaction (which is a shocker given how sensitive my skin is).
The two menus I judge extensively when I travel are the brunch menus and pool menus, and I am happy to announce that the Fairmont Kea Lani does both exceptionally well! When I arrived at the resort, I arrived just in time for happy hour/late lunch, and my friend and I indulged in guacamole and pool-side cocktails. For my margarita/fruity drink fans, you HAVE to order “The Pushpop,” which consisted of raspberry, lime, coconut, vodka, and mango puree. This drink was the star of my vacation dreams.
At lunch the following day, while we were hanging out in our pool-side cabana, we were delivered our own personal fruit baskets filled with my favorite fruits (both fresh and dried) and macadamia nuts! I ate so many macadamia nuts this trip that macadamia nuts are my new favorite nut. I also ordered the Maui Chopped Salad with grilled shrimp on top. The lunch portions were SO generous, and the menu had so many more gluten-free options including a Grilled Vegetable Platter (nobread) and a Mahi Mahi sandwich (again, nobread).
Our first morning at the property, we were treated to a healthy breakfast on the Pacific Terrace overlooking the ocean. Fresh juice from the hotel’s juice bar (this bar is a GEM), coconut tapioca pudding served in a fresh coconut, granola and berries served in papaya, fruit galore, eggs, smoked fish, hash browns, BACON, and more!!
In addition to the restaurants, I visited the Fairmont’s cafe several times a day. Each morning, I walked downstairs to the cafe with a collagen packet in hand, and custom ordered one of their two smoothie options to my liking. The cafe also serves coffee and pastries and sells all of the essentials… including larger bottles of almond milk and coconut milk! It’s a great little market, especially if you are staying for longer than a few days or you are traveling with your family! It was here that I discovered my newest obsession, OHi Food Co.! These plant-based, organic bars are native of Hawaii (and expanding to the states!!), and non-gmo, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo, and DELICIOUS!
Ko is the fine-dining restaurant at the Fairmont Kea Lani. Chef Tylun Pang’s menu features influences from Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese cuisines. Ko’s signature dish is the Ahi On The Rock with an orange ginger miso sauce. The chef was happy to serve this dish gluten-free! Each order includes the freshest looking tuna chunks served with a hot rock skillet, so that you can sear the tuna to your liking! The concept is so fun and the tuna is NEXT LEVEL!
I typically avoid tuna, but I indulged a few times while staying at The Fairmont. Their cuisine was just too fresh and delicious looking! And tuna poke is one of Hawaii’s signature dishes!
For my main, I ordered a seafood stew that had the most delicious, gluten-free broth, and I went to TOWN on the fried rice. Several of the sushi items were gluten-free, and the team served my sushi with a tamari gluten-free soy sauce, which I appreciated! I quickly learned that shrimp is a staple order in Hawaii, and I’m pretty sure I ordered shrimp at every meal!
* A fill list of Ko’s gluten-free options are listed at the end of this post!
Grown on Maui Farmer’s Dinner
This feast was such a special experience! My group and I enjoyed panoramic views of the Pacific and sister islands while indulging in the freshest cuisine, made right in front of our eyes! Vegetable skewers, whole prawns, steak, kale salad, and a whole snapper in a ginger broth were on the menu, and each dish was better than the one before it. For dessert, a chocolate gluten-free, dairy-free, NUT-FREE, cake was placed in front of me, and it was after this cake that I realized I, in fact, was in heaven.
Two experiences I really enjoyed at the resort were the Kiakahi Functional Fitness program and canoe ride. This fitness class was taught by two energetic, fun Hawaiian locals. The class is best described as Polynesian strength training using ancient movements, techniques, and traditions. Oh, and a whole lot of laughs… these guys were amazing! The resort also offers a canoe experience, which is free of charge! Two Hawaiian locals taught us how to paddle and the history of canoeing and its importance in Hawaiian culture. I didn’t see any whales, but I saw a ton of HUGE turtles, urchin, and fish!
Second and final stop, Waikiki!
We stayed at the Moana Surfrider. I didn’t know what to expect on this island and I quickly realized it was the most touristy part of Hawaii. Given how hectic the area was, the Surfrider does a great job of making you feel comfortable and in your own little world away from the hustle & bustle. The hotel sits right on the beach, and I recommend spending a day at the Moana Lani Spa (I had the most amazing 90-minute massage) and then relaxing on the veranda under a banyan tree.
If I had longer than 24 hours on this property, I totally would have taken a surf lesson or taken advantage of the many beach activities offered on-site. I did wake up early enough to hit the hotel’s yoga class, and it was a super nice experience!
When we landed, we went straight to a private workout class at the Wainani Wellness Center taught by Wainani herself! It was one thing to watcher her pre-,in-, and post-flight videos during my travels, but a totally different, and cool, experience to be able to practice the techniques with her in person! Pilates has long been one of my favorite workouts, and her teachings comprise pilates and yoga moves to keep the body flowing and stretched.
The brunch feast I was served at the Surfrider was pretty exceptional. A gluten-free WAFFLE, eggs benedict (nobread), GF and vegan acai bowl, and bowls and bowls of fruit comprised my lovely brunch spread for one, ha! Set on my balcony, this meal was a highlight of my quick stay.
BANAN– second picture- This vegan GEM serves banana fro-yo. The ice cream is made out of puréed bananas and a touch of water! I topped mine with strawberries, matcha, dark chocolate, mochi, and puffed quinoa. I could have gone here for every meal, every day. Not only do they serve soft-serve ice cream, but they also make incredible smoothies!
LEAHI HEALTH BAR- first picture- We all know how much I love my smoothies. Smoothies are especially important while traveling because they balance out my unhealthy indulgences. When we landed in Waikiki we were given the menu for Leahi Health Bar, and immediately I knew I was in good hands. I ordered the Green Monster: almond Milk, local greens, banana, almond butter, and coconut nectar. I asked them to use just half of a banana, and per usual, gave them a collagen packet to add to the smoothie. I loved my smoothie so much I went back the next day for lunch on my way to the airport, and ordered the same smoothie, but subbed TARO in for the banana. Using taro was new and SO interesting to me… it gave the smoothie a thickness/creaminess, but without the sugar of fruit. Leahi also offers incredible looking salads… I had major food envy on the last day when my friend took a salad to-go!
Goodbye for now, Hawaii. You were a dream. I will see you soon!
Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani Gluten-Free Options: