Sunday, November 23, 2014

68 hours of Hawai’i – The Big Island [Blog Series] Part 1 Fairmont Orchid

Over the next month or so, I will be writing a 5 post blog series showcasing The Big Island.  The culture, awaiting adventures, unforgettable tours, the diverse landscapes, wide range of activities and the luxury that can be enjoyed in 68 hours!  It may seem strange to explore and visit Hawai’i in 68 hours but we did and here is why.
I had the great pleasure of becoming one of Fairmont Hotels Destination GoPro Heros.  With this privilege came the task of filming our story and experiences at one of Fairmont’s North American resorts for three days.  I choose Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii and armed with a GroPro Hero4, our whirlwind adventure to Hawai’i and “My destination story” begins.  (Ariel shot of Fairmont Orchid) 
Unfortunately the trip could only accommodate two travellers and it was with great sadness we had to leave Ben and Liv home.  They would have had a blast adventuring alongside side us and I have no doubt we would have done just as much had they been with us. Good news though, we plan to return to the Big Island and finish what we started with them alongside us.
Out of the 68 hours spent on Hawai’i, 37 of those hours were enjoyed at the Fairmont Orchid.  I realize that my normal writing consists of outdoor adventuring in wild spaces on Vancouver Island and coping with accommodations that most people would find unacceptable.  Normally our travel accommodations involve either a tent or hostel, we are modest travellers.  But in the spirit of adventure and to fully appreciate the whole story; Fairmont Orchid needs to be a part of it.  I often say to Ben and Liv, embrace the adventure at hand and what comes with it.  I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and step straight into luxury.  And let me tell you, the Fairmont Orchid knows luxury.
Luxury began in our Executive Suite Ocean view room complete with a private bedroom off of living room, a gorgeous marble bathroom with tub and separate shower, two large closets that swallowed the items in our one piece luggage, and a half bath for our guests to use.  It was beyond more than what we needed but if Fairmont Orchid wants to make you feel special, their rooms certainly deliver.  Luxury did not end there.  The Fairmont Gold experience continues delivering hospitality with the 6th floor reserved for those wanting extra perks.  Here we found a private lounge, continental breakfast, afternoon tea, evening canapé’s, and a dedicated Fairmont Gold Manager to take care of anything else.  Everyone should experience the 6th floor once in their lifetime.  We are grateful to have been treated with such a comfortable and elegant stay.  We will have fond memories of the 18 hours of blissful sleep had in room 2257. (View from suite balcony)
Being a Fairmont Destination GoPro Hero involved working with a team from Fairmont Orchid to assist with our pre-planning details.  If we are to film our story about Fairmont and Hawai’i, it is best let the people who know the island of Hawai’i provide us with their recommendations.  For weeks leading up to the trip my team and I did just that.  I provided them with an idea of who we are, what we like, and in turn they set out making sure our trip would be a memorable one.  I will write about those stories later.  The prompt and helpful service I received from “My Team” before arriving at Fairmont Orchid was amazing but the service and greeting we experienced while staying at the Fairmont Orchid was beyond amazing.  It was darn near magical. 
It was so good to finally meet a few members of our team for breakfast at the Fairmont’s Orchid Court, an outdoor garden patio style gathering place for either buffet or a la carte breakfast.  Jaisy (Director of Public Relations) and Darlene (Guest Services Manager) gave us a warm Aloha welcome and immediately we all hit it off as if we were friends catching up.   They were gracious hosts and went above and beyond what Joel and I expected.  The only thing that could have made meeting them more fabulous was having them join us on a few of the tours they hooked us up with.  To see them just as excited as us about what our three days of adventure was looking like was sincere and genuine.  Perhaps a reunion is in order, complete with a day of adventure together, because I love seeing excitement and passion for exploring in anyone who is willing.
These two beautiful ladies, along with the countless other Fairmont Orchid staff members, made us feel special and welcomed.  It seemed as though everyone knew what we needed before we did.  Fresh tropical fruit trays awaited us every day along with a personal note from my team.  Reservations were booked for us.  The bell desk knew our schedule and our vehicle was always ready waiting for us.  I thought perhaps we were getting more attention than usual, given our Fairmont Destination GoPro Hero status and VIP Concierge service, but some fellow travellers we met on a tour confirmed they too were treated special and were completely blown away with Fairmont Orchid.  They experienced two other resorts on two other Hawaiian Island’s prior to the Fairmont Orchid and had nothing but praise on how they too were treated.  Well Done Fairmont Orchid! (You had me at chocolate although the dragon fruit was a close second, and chocolate covered Kona coffee beans... ah heck.  I was smitten with it all.)
I will end our story of Fairmont Orchid luxury with two final highlights of our time at the resort.  Nothing is more romantic than dining at Brown’s Beach House, an AAA four diamond award winning restaurant.  The setting alone is award winning; just steps from the shores of Pauoa Bay, where one can watch Hui Holokai beach boys and beach girls light tiki torches throughout Fairmont Orchid as dusk settles and the sunset begins.  Beautiful.  Most of the sunsets we have experienced involve paddling a kayak or backpacking all day to camp along the coast of BC where we set up tents, cook our one pot meal, clean up and force ourselves to stay awake to witness the sunset.  Oh Fairmont Orchid, how I wish I could bring you and Brown’s Beach House with us on our wild adventures.  I can bring my own beach boy and beach girl, you can bring the rest. (Sunsets always on the menu)
The last highlight of Fairmont Orchid was one luxury that Joel and I know very little about and I am afraid the standard has now been set.  I have enjoyed a few spa experiences and Joel none so when an afternoon at the spa was recommended by my team, we figured we should take the opportunity and embrace the moments we are given.  Words cannot even begin to describe the Ocean Ali’i Experience at Fairmont Orchid’s Spa without Walls.  This is truly a spa experience like no other.  A Hawaiian lomilomi massage with a foot wrap followed with an absolutely amazing body compress of Hawaiian Herbs to encourage physical and mental relaxation called Awa, Earth and Fire.  So amazing! Then warm coconut oil and a cleansing herb poured over hair and scalp, called a Kahinu body treatment, which was beyond any relaxation I have ever experienced.  If that was not enough, a full scalp, neck, shoulder, foot, and hand massage using sandalwood, frankincense and myrrh essence.  Oh, and did I mention we were in an Oceanside hut?  No reason why we can’t incorporate some massages into our future adventures to remind us just how amazing this one was.  You never forget your first…massage. (Ocean side hale (huts) at Fairmont Orchid's Spa without Walls)
Darlene, Jaisy, Joan (who we finally met on our last day) and the entire staff of Fairmont Orchid have our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for everything we experienced in Hawai’i.  It was our pleasure to visit Hawai’i and Fairmont Orchid and will be hard at work putting together one hell of a video that will tell our story, a story that stays true to who Joel and I are.  Mahalo!
Want to know how we spent the other 31 hours on Hawai’i? It is a Big Island, all 4,028 sq. miles of it, and with it comes big adventure, diverse landscapes, a variety of climate zones, stunning beaches, active volcanoes and lava flows, an amazing undersea world, a rich history, and some of the friendliest people you will encounter during your travels.   There is one thing we know - islands and adventure.   And in Hawaii, the Big Island is the island for adventure.  Check back soon for Parts 2 – 5 of 68 Hours of Hawai’i.