Anyone else feel a lingering “holiday hangover” this time of year in the wake of December’s intense holiday obligations and the back-to-work busyness of January? Definitely makes a getaway to recharge depleted batteries sound mighty good! One fantastic way to achieve a relaxing reset is a wellness-focused long weekend, and one of my favorite places for this sort of getaway is Hawaii.
Hawaii might not be atop your list of weekend getaway destinations, but it’s totally doable from the US West Coast if you follow these guidelines:
Fly direct. There are plenty of nonstop flights to Hawaii to choose from if you fly out of a West Coast hub such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or Las Vegas. Honolulu on the island of Oahu is going to have the most options, but you’ll also find direct routes to the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai available depending on where you’re coming from. The 4-6 hour flight duration from the West Coast to the Hawaiian Islands is similar to flying cross-country, and because Hawaii doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time in winter, Pacific Time folks will only experience a two-hour time change.
Don’t check bags. Save yourself time at the airport and travel with carry-on luggage only!
Don’t rent a car. The goal of a wellness weekend is to chill out and enjoy your surroundings, so keep things simple by arranging transfers to/from the airport and your accommodations. You’ll avoid the time and stress of visiting the rental car center at the start and end of your trip, you’ll save money (both on rental charges and resort parking fees), and you’ll find it easier to take things slow and relax in the comfort of your resort property.
Stay at a well-equipped resort, and resolve to spend most of your time there. On a “standard” week-long (or longer) Hawaiian vacation, you’d probably be tempted to schedule loads of activities and sightseeing each day. For a Hawaiian wellness weekend, you must fight this urge! Give yourself space to relax, take it slow, and not angst over an ambitious itinerary. Opt to stay at a well-equipped resort that offers enough dining, activities, and amenities to keep you on-property for most of your trip.
Treat yourself to a bit of luxury. A bit of luxurious self-care is important to achieving a successful wellness getaway. That said, luxury is a personal concept, so when you’re planning your trip, take a moment to consider what it means to you and what factors into your vision of a relaxing wellness weekend (or discuss with your travel advisor!). For instance, are expansive spa facilities and an extensive spa treatment menu your idea of luxury? Or, would you prioritize a state-of-the-art fitness center and flexible dining venues that can cater to your dietary needs? Or perhaps peace, quiet, and a beautiful natural setting trumps everything else for you? Once you determine which brand of personal luxury is going to give you the most value, it’ll be easier to select a resort that lines up with your needs and expectations.
Book with a travel advisor. For a quick long weekend trip, you might be inclined to book all travel arrangements on your own. As a travel advisor, I’d strongly advocate for...booking with a travel advisor ;). There are a couple reasons why. First, many TAs have access to special rates and perks that you wouldn’t necessarily receive booking on your own. For instance, Nicely Travel is part of the Virtuoso luxury travel network, which means that when I book my clients at participating properties, they receive incredible added-value perks at no additional cost. Think free breakfasts, spa credits, early check-in/late check-out, and more! Second, if you’re truly looking to relax and de-stress, a good travel advisor can assist with every aspect of planning, booking, and supporting your vacation, from airport transfers to spa appointments to communicating dietary needs and beyond. All you’ll really need to do is pack your bags. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Nicely’s Picks for an Oahu Wellness Weekend
As a Hawaii Destination Specialist, I love all the islands that make up the state, and there are wonderful wellness getaway options all over. However, I recently traveled to Oahu specifically to test out a wellness weekend itinerary, and based on that trip, I’m excited to share some tried-and-tested suggestions for an amazing long weekend:
Extra Comfort seats on Hawaiian Airlines. These seats are a great value (not too much more than regular economy seats), and a nice little way to treat yourself to additional leg room when heading to/from Hawaii. My favorite Extra Comfort seats on Hawaiian are the ones just behind the first class cabin—they’re slightly separated from the rest of economy, so you get a quiet, calm in-flight experience (plus early boarding).
Ground transfers by Johnny Cab. I’ve used Johnny Cab on several occasions, and found them to be a really solid, affordable option for airport transfers on Oahu. They’ve always been on time, friendly, and courteous, and I also love that it’s a scrappy local business that I can support when I’m traveling! You may even get Johnny himself as your driver, which is super fun :).
Resort stay at Four Seasons Ko Olina. This Four Seasons resort is a relative newcomer to Oahu (been open just over a year and was previously a JW Marriott). It’s an amazing option for a wellness weekend. Let me count the ways:
- A beautiful setting on the quieter-than-Waikiki west side of Oahu. It’s about a 30 to 45 minute drive from the Honolulu airport, and situated on a beautiful beach lagoon with calm blue waters.
- A lovely sense of place. The ocean is visible as soon as you enter the lobby, and many common areas throughout the resort are open-air. Rooms (which all feature spacious lanais) are tastefully furnished with Hawaiian art and materials.
- Great food. I particularly enjoyed the breakfast buffet at La Hiki, and dinners at Noe. And all the restaurant staff were fantastic about accommodating dietary restrictions.
- Plenty of pools to choose from! There’s a lively family pool, a huge courtyard pool, an adults-only pool with wonderful views and bar service, and a super quiet rooftop spa pool.
- Many activities are included in your room rate, from complimentary paddleboards to use in the beach lagoon to outdoor morning meditation sessions.
- Spa access is included for hotel guests, and the spa has lovely facilities (steam room, sauna, indoor/outdoor relaxation areas, hot tub, cold plunge, and more).
- Fun stuff within walking distance, like the Ko Olina shopping complex across the street, Disney’s Aulani resort next door, and a beautiful beach-side walking path that takes you past all of Ko Olina’s beach lagoons.
- “Wayfinders” events and classes are offered daily at the resort, providing interesting opportunities for enrichment via painting classes, traditional Hawaiian crafts, etc.
- Good selection of evening entertainment, from DJs in the courtyard to Hawaiian bands over dinner at Noe.
- Nice little extras, like a lounge for arriving/departing guests, two great boutiques, and the comprehensive (and complimentary!) “Kids For All Seasons” program.
- Amazing Four Seasons service!
- And finally, a great promotion for all of 2018—stay three nights and get the fourth night free!
Happy hour at Monkeypod Kitchen. Ko Olina shopping complex, conveniently across the street from the Four Seasons, has a nice bunch of shops and restaurants to explore. Be sure to check out the happy hour at Monkeypod Kitchen, featuring great deals on food and live music on the patio.
Snacks and provisions at ABC Island Country Mart. If you’ve been to Hawaii before, you’re probably familiar with the magic of ABC stores and all the cool snacks, provisions, and souvenirs they offer. The Ko Olina shopping complex has a super-sized ABC store called Island Country Mart, and it’s a fantastic spot to stock up on snacks and beverages while browsing many unique made-in-Hawaii items.
So, rarin’ to book a Hawaii wellness weekend now? Give me a holler if you’d like a hand with planning and making all the arrangements. Would love to help you have an amazing trip to paradise!