Saturday, February 4, 2017

Recent Beauty Favorites: Feb 2017

1. Dearpacker Royal Black Black Tea & Black Rose Mask
Gel mask with 77% black tea + rosewater infusion that moisturizes, calms, and smooths the skin. Hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.
 BB Cosmetic

2. Esfolio Snail Essence Mask Sheet

3. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
Pretty, smelled good, felt good on skin
Made with Mediterranean Rose Clay, Canadian Willowherb and exfoliating Jojoba beads, it helps gently deep clean while refining skin's texture. Pores appear to vanish. Clarity is restored. Glow is instant.

4.Missha Safe Block Aqua Sun Gel SPF 30  PA++
Dual-filter, double layer UV blocking system allows for outstanding UVA & UVB protection
Glacial Water and Ice Plant Extract combine to create a lightweight water gel base that moisturizes and cools and is quickly absorbed by skin.
Antozone-Rose protects skin from environmental stressors while Thanaka extract provides a cooling effect

5. Etude House Sunprise Must Daily SPF 50 PA+++
 *** Favorite sunscreen used so far! A sun lotion protecting skin from UV and improving skin defence power with vitamin D, smooth and non-sticky texture hydrating skin. Containing Vitamin D to improve skin's defense power. Gentle ingredients destress skin with Dwarf ground sedge, Acai berry & Acerola, Aloe vera & Linden flower.

6. Wet N Wild Max Volume Plus Mascara
Great first-step mascara:
Macadamia, jojoba, and olive oil to condition lashes. Panthenol to strengthen them.
formulated with macadamia nut, jojoba, and olive oils for conditioning, and enriched with D-Panthenol to help strengthen lashes. And its show-stopping, proprietary brush lifts, separates, and extends for extreme voluminous lashes – no clumping or smudging - See more at:
formulated with macadamia nut, jojoba, and olive oils for conditioning, and enriched with D-Panthenol to help strengthen lashes. And its show-stopping, proprietary brush lifts, separates, and extends for extreme voluminous lashes – no clumping or smudging - See more at:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Travel Diary: Maui : Part 3 (the end)

Four Seasons Resort, Maui
On Sunday, I meant to get up and have a fancy Sunday brunch at one of the resort hotels, but ended up sleeping late and it was lunch instead. (By this time in my trip, I was having a hard time falling asleep at a decent hour at my AirBnB because of the bug situation, having seen a cockroach on the paper towel holder, and many ants all around - even in my bed!!!). Anyway, I finally made it out to the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea, and ate lunch at Ferraro. It was very pretty, with a lovely shaded porch looking out to sea. I had a delicous burger and a salad.
Four Seasons Resort, Maui

Lunch at Forrero at the Four Seasons
After lunch, I decided to go to Makena Beach in Wailea, which is part of a state park, due to the good reviews in the Fodor's guide that I had. However, when I got there, it was overcast, and the parking was very far from the beach, so because of my knee injury and not wanting to walk that much, I turned around and headed back up north, settling on Ulolo Beach instead. This beach had close-by parking, bathrooms, and shady spots to sit. It was lovely.
Ulolo Beach in Maui
Wild bird came very close looking for treats

Found a shady spot on the beach

Ulolo Beach in Maui
When the sun started to set, I drove back to Kihei and had dinner at 3 Grill. This was a comfortable restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating in that same touristy outdoor mall that I had already been several times. I sat out on the deck, near the parking lot, but under some pretty trees with fairy lights. The service was good, and I enjoyed some delicious fries, and a good bowl of ramen. Only negative was there was a live music performance, which I am not a fan of. But otherwise, I recommend this place.
Breakfast at the Four Seasons
Monday, May 2nd was one of those days that I wish I could do over. I woke up with high hopes of being able to swim finally when I went for my spa appointment at the Four Seasons. I woke up very early because of the yard rooster, but that was okay because I had finally slept well and felt rested. I checked my mail and watched the full "4 Things with Taemin" video, then headed out by 9am to enjoy the breakfast buffet at the Four Seasons that I'd missed by oversleeping the previous day. Well, holy cow! The breakfast buffet was $41, and it was totally ordinary, food-wise and presentation-wise. So that was the first disappointment: I wished I'd saved my money on that one. At least the valet parking was completely free, so that was good.
Four Seasons Maui spa

Four Seasons Spa Maui

Four Seasons Spa Maui
After a leisurely breakfast, I walked the LONG way over to the spa. My appointment for the Aromatherapy Journey Massage in the ocean-front hale was not until 12:30pm and I got to the spa at 10:15 but I thought I could use the spa amenities until then. Unfortunately, there were NO amenities, except for a sauna. I wish I had booked the Spa Montage for today instead. They had the lovely pool, water circuit and it was just a lovely place to spend the day. This spa was tiny and cramped with no outdoor spaces, and only the locker room and waiting room to hang out in. I ended up waiting in a garden chair outside of the spa because the interior was dark with no view. Eventually, it was time for my appointment and an employee came to escort me to the ocean front hale. It was another long walk across the grounds and down a bunch of stairs, and not wanting to be walking so slowly behind him, I ended up rushing and hurting my knee more.

The hale was simple and could have been really pretty but it was cluttered with equipment of various sorts. My massage therapist was a woman and unfortunately, I did not get a good feeling from her. She was pleasant enough but I don't know ..... just bad vibes. Also, I had asked for a firm pressure massage, but her touch was very light. So I didn't really feel any benefit from the massage. It felt like she was simply applying lotion. Plus the "aroma journey" part of the massage was a joke. They were selling a $265 set of essential oils, and all she did was pour EVERY SINGLE SCENT from the set on my back. So although the first couple of fragrances were nice, by the end, they had all mixed together and I couldn't smell any of them. And because she used even the scents I don't particularly like, like the peppermint, it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been. Any way, it was over before I knew it, and I felt very underwhelmed. Then came the LONG walk back to the spa to change and pay the $185! Way overpriced. Another regret for the day.
One of the pools at the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina

Japanese Garden bridge at the Hyatt

The view from JapanGo restaurant at the Hyatt
But in the end, it ended well. I drove back up to Lahaina to have dinner at the Hyatt Regency there. This was my favorite hotel, as I've mentioned, because of the retro Mid-century Modern style of the architecture, and how the grounds were not overly expansive, but were beautifully designed in Japanese style, with real black and white swans, and flamingos wandering about, Asian art everywhere, waterfalls, and pretty swimming pools. And it was right on a lovely beach.
Hyatt flamingos

Hyatt swans
After milling about the grounds, I had a nice dinner at the Japanese restaurant, JapanGo. The food was good and the location was amazing, perched high and looking down on the pool and ocean below. Only negative here: live music performance. It was a lady playing her guitar and singing Carly Simon and James Taylor songs. Blech! It would have been perfect without her there, but I know I am in the minority here in not liking live music performances at restaurants. I lingered over dessert to watch the sunset, then headed back to Kihei for the night. If I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed 2 - 3 days fewer in Maui and stayed at the Hyatt instead of the AirBnb. Oh well .... "hindsight it 20/20" as they say....
The Fairmont
Tuesday was my last full day in Maui and I really wanted to go into the ocean and laze on the beach all day. I chose to go to Kamaole III beach because of its closeness to my room. There was ample close parking but no shade to be found on the beach, so I ended up only staying for an hour because my white skin cannot tolerate that kind of sun. But it was pretty. A narrow strip of sand that was not crowded but also not deserted. The water was lovely: clear and warm.
The Fairmont

Ladies' locker room at Fairmont spa Wailea
After the beach, I went back to the room to change into a nice sundress for my appointment at the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont in Wailea. The entry way to the valet at the Fairmont was so so pretty. I really loved the super tall white arches, beautiful zen style landscaping and all the Hindu deity sculptures. The valet parking was free and the valet guys were really cute. I was glad I dressed up. Luckily, I did not have to walk far to get to the spa from the valet. The Fairmont hotel is gorgeous. Very high ceilings, open-air lobby, and very friendly and attentive staff. I loved the mini Japanese garden in the lobby and the amazing views out to the ocean.
Three shower experiences at the Fairmont Spa

The grounds of the Fairmont in Wailea

Little garden at the Fairmont
The spa was in a contemporary Zen style in earth tones. Unfortunately, there was no attached spa pool, but it was beautifully appointed. The locker area was really pretty. I especially liked the yin/yang shaped sofas and the lit make-up/vanity tables. The sink area was very pretty and well-equipped. The showers were lovely as well, and I really liked the shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel provided. But the best part of the locker area was the self-serve mud bar and the rain showers. There was a counter with little pots of two kinds of mud: cooling and warming. You could spread mud on yourself, relax on the heated tile ergonomic benches, then shower off in one of three rain showers with different temperatures, water pressures (mist, rain, massage, etc.) and light and sound effects. It was so cool and so relaxing. I did this for about an hour and a half and it was really nice.
Lobby at the Fairmont

Then I had my spa treatment, which was a custom anti-aging facial. It was really good, and felt luxurious, and my skin really was glowing afterward! Of course, the effects were only temporary, but it was still nice. I also liked the "energy bites" that were in the lounge area to snack on. They were date, almond, cocoa, flax and coconut, and really delicious. The spa also provided ginger tea and fruit infused water that were really delicious. Lastly, I got my nail polish reapplied, and then set off for dinner. This spa was really lovely and totally worth the splurge. I would say it would tie with the Spa Montage at Kapalua as being my two favorites.
Valet/entry way at the Fairmont
For dinner, I stayed at the hotel and ate at Ko, the upscale Hawaiian fusion restaurant. It was another lovely patio setting and I got a seat facing the ocean, and under some palms and flowering trees. I read an Agatha Christie mystery as I ate my dinner, which was delicious, occasionally gazing out into the coast. It was perfectly pretty, and a wonderful way to end my trip to Maui.
My view from the restaurant, Ko, at the Fairmont in Wailea
I hope you, dear reader, enjoyed my travel diary. I write them to help me remember all the details of my travels, but I also hope others can benefit from my observations and experiences. I read a lot of travel writing and they almost always talk only about the wonderful things, as if they were sponsored by the tourist boards. But I think it's important to record both my positive experiences and my disappointments, and talk about what I would have done differently. In that way, I hope to craft better and more rewarding travel experiences for myself, and for others.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Travel Diary: Maui : Part 2

The pool at Spa Montage

Pool again

Part of the women's water circuit: a rain shower, at Spa Montage
Kapalua was really pretty and felt very lush and upscale. It was more woodsy, being upcountry, and I couldn't see or walk to the beach from where I was, but it was really nice. Spa Montage at the Kapalua Resort was tied for my favorite spa. I loved that the swimming pool was integral to the spa, so you could go for a swim in between treatments. Every thing was top notch, with a beautiful reception area, locker room, and water circuit area, separated by gender. I had a really luxe manicure and pedicure here, and also relaxed by the pool.
Ladies' locker room at Spa Montage

Reception area at Spa Montage in Kapalua
Lunch was at the Pineapple Grill, on the grounds of the resort, right alongside the golf course. It was lovely. I had cornbread and a TexMex salad in a tortilla bowl, which was good. Afterwards, I drove the long way back along the coast to Kihei and went to a crummy laudromat to spend $20 doing my laundry. (Next time I do AirBnB, I will look for one with laundry facilities). After the laundromat, I went to the Kamolole III beach and read for a few hours. The beach is beautiful and easily accessible from the free parking lot, but there was no shade, so I would only be able to be there at the end of the day when the sun was weaker.
View of the golf course from the Pineapple Grill restaurant at the Kapalua Resort

The more woodsy feeling of Kapalua

The grounds of the Kapalua Resort

For dinner that night, I tried the local sushi restaurant called Sensei. It was okay. I had tempura onion rings, shrimp cake and a ramen bowl. I think this restaurant was a bit overrated, tbh.
Sensei sushi in Kihei, Maui
Saturday morning, I decided I wanted a formal breakfast, so I made a reservation at the 5 Palms restaurant, which is part of a resort part-way between Kihei and Wailea. The resort itself was not the fanciest: the decor looked a little dated. But the restaurant was pretty because it was outside and sat around the lovely pool (very crowded with families) and looked out to the beach and ocean. The service was good and the food was good, but it was a bit over-priced (like everything on Maui).
View of the pool from the 5 Palms restaurant
View of the beach from the 5 Palms restaurant.

Cool mid-century style lobby in the resort near the 5 Palms restaurant.
Afterward, I went to Polo Beach in Wailea to read by the water for a few hours. The parking was easy and convenient and the beach was lovely. I was happy to find a shady spot and spent a few lazy hours there.
Hyatt Regency Lahaina
In the evening, I drove up to Lahaina again. First I stopped at a Barnes and Noble to get some books because I'd already finished everything I'd brought with me. I bought two murder mysteries and three Korean language books (because I've decided to learn Korean). Then it was time to go to the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina for the second luau I had booked. I loved this hotel. Some people might think it was a bit dated, but since it was mid-century modern style, I loved it. I wished I had stayed here (for fewer days) instead of longer at the AirBnB, which I had discovered had roaches and ants! Yuck!!! Anyway, the grounds of this Hyatt were gorgeous! Live black and white swans and flamingos walked around freely over the Asian-inspired landscaping.
Hyatt Regency Lahaina
The luau was very nice, as well. The setting was not as great at the Old Lahaina one because it faced away from the beach instead of towards it. But the food was better. The performances were of equal quality in my mind. If I had to choose between the two luaus, it would be a hard choice because at one, the setting was much prettier, and at the second one, the food was better.
Luau at the Hyatt Regency Lahaina
Sooo.... I don't know. Toss up, I guess. Any way, it was very nice, and I made up my mind to come to the Hyatt again for dinner so I could really enjoy the beauty of the grounds. After the luau, I drove the long, dark, scary, winding road back down to Kihei for the night.
To be continued.....

Travel Diary: Maui - May 2016: Part One

I am switching up the format of the blog to reflect the fact that I keep procrastinating writing on it, because I've made it so complicated for myself. It is just going to be plain text now, without links or photos most of the time, in the hopes that I will write more often. I have a big backlog of things to write about, and since I don't know if there is anyone reading this anyway, I might as well keep it simple for myself. On to the travel diary:

My first impression of Maui as I arrived at the airport, was not a favorable one. Granted, I was extremely tired, (due to the lady in the seats across from me in the airplane who snore THE ENTIRE FLIGHT!!!!) but the airport is very rundown. I liked that it is mostly open-air: very tropical feeling. But everything needs to be updated and remodeled. It looked like it hasn't been touched since the 80s. Why people? You are a tourist destination! You should invest in your tourist infrastructure. The airport did have lots of good shops, though. Not a lot of restaurants: just junk food.

I picked up my rental car and headed to the AirBnB I had reserved. It was easy to find and easy to get to. It was in a shabby neighborhood, and the house was kind of shabby, but it had a nice yard. The parking area was narrow and getting in and out was a little harrowing. My room was plain but cozy and had everything I needed. It would have been fine except for the bugs. During my stay, I saw a cockroach and tons of other bugs. Yuck!

For a late lunch, I used my Fodor's travel guide to choose a restaurant that was touted as a tiki bar/restaurant, called South Shore Tiki Lounge. I was a little underwhelmed by this place because it wasn't very tiki, in my opinion. But the waitress was very nice and my food was good. I sat on the deck under some pretty plumeria trees and watched all the birds. There were picnic tables, plastic cutlery and paper plates. My food was simple but good, but I think they milked the whole tiki idea without it being very tiki. For instance, I ordered the "tiki fries" which were actually just regular fries! Haha. This restaurant was completely outdoors, and was situated in a touristy outdoor mall with lots of other restaurants and a bunch of shops selling touristy souvenirs. I would end up coming back to this mall twice for other restaurants during my trip. For dinner, I went to Humuhumu, the Hawaiian restaurant at the Grand Wailea Resort, in Wailea. Wailea was my favorite part of Maui because it was all new looking and nicely maintained. It had the biggest concentration of good beaches, with accessible parking and some shade, lots of shops (which I didn't actually go to because of my knee injury), and beautiful hotels with nice restaurants. I must have still been really tired because I don't remember much about this hotel or the restaurant. I think the food was good. I wanted to go here because the Grand Wailea was one of the biggest, most lavish resorts with huge landscaped grounds. The restaurant was in a grass hut-style outdoor structure that looked out onto the beach. (Photos below).

The next morning, I woke up refreshed and found that the house was host to zillions of local birds and a family of wild chickens! Although the rooster woke me at around 5:30 or 6 a.m every day, it was still cool to have chickens in the backyard. I enjoyed seeing the rooster's amazing irridescent colors, they brown, skinny hens, and the pale adolescent chickens. Very cool. I just wish they were tamer and would have let me approach them, but they just ran "like chickens" at my approach! haha

I set out fairly early on Wednesday to Hana. I wanted to make sure I was back in Kihei (my home base) by dark because I heard the drive to Hana was slightly perilous. On the way there, I stopped in Paia for water, bug spray, postcards, and flowered hair elastics, plus some snacks. It was a small town with a few cute shops and restaurants. The drive to Hana was very scenic! There were roadside waterfalls, lots of rock formations and very tropical foliage. As I climbed higher and higher into the mountains, the air felt thinner and clearer, the weather turned cooler and more humid, and there were frequents light rains and mists. It was intermittently overcast. The road was narrow and two-laned, and there were many twists and turns that were a little scary to navigate: you never knew if there was a wide vehicle or a crazy person about to speed around the bend and slam right into you. There was almost always a back-up of cars trailing each other, and there was always that impatient driver who sped to pass me as soon as he was able. I didn't stop along the way, but did slow occasionally to get a roadside photograph. It was very pretty and I'm glad I did it, but it wasn't something I would want to repeat.
Cold Plunge Pool at the Travaasa Hana Spa in Hana, Maui

Entryway to the Travaasa Hana Spa in Hana

The Travaasa Hana Resort in Hana

Serene lounge area at the Travaasa Hana Spa
I arrived late morning at the Travaasa Hana spa and resort for my appointment. It suddenly appeared before me, just sitting at the side of the road in Hana (which is not much of a town), and I passed it and had to turn back to it. There was convenient roadside parking at the foot of a gentle hill. I didn't see the ocean: I think it was far below. The resort was simple and rustic but pretty. There were not many people in the ladies' locker room, of which I was glad. I took a few photos of the grounds, and then it was time for my treatment. A middle-aged lady gave me a back facial that felt very nice, but I didn't see any lasting results. My treatment was held in a pool-side room that was simple but pretty. The pool was lovely (though I didn't go in - it was "that time of the month"). After my treatment, I picked up a few things in the spa shop, and had lunch by the pool at the resort restaurant which was a short walk from the spa. I had a salad with beets, and guacamole with some oily fresh-made vegetable chips. It was nice.
Relaxing on the grounds at Travaasa Hana

The deck at the spa restaurant: Travaasa Hana
After lunch, I made the return trip to Kihei and made it home by mid-afternoon. I think it was a little over 2 hours each way. I toyed with the idea of going back the opposite way around the island (to the southwest, instead of northwest), but apparently the road is virtually un-passable to regular cars, so I ended up just retracing my steps back to the AirBnB.

Koi Pond, Grand Wailea Resort, Maui

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui

Humuhumu Restaurant at the Grand Wailea Resort, Maui
Wednesday night back in Kihei, I ate dinner somewhere obviously, but I don't remember where, and I failed to write it down - so those memories are lost forever! :(

On Thursday, I awoke at 5:30 am to the sound of the crowing yard rooster. I drove around for a bit looking for a nice breakfast place, but the ones recommended by my Fodor's guide (which was from four years ago) had all closed. I ended up going to Starbucks just for something. Then I drove up north, through some more narrow roads, to Lahaina. My plan was to go to Front Street for some souvenir shopping, hang on the beach for a while, and then be there for the luau I had booked for that night. Front Street is a touristy destination with a large assortment of shops and restaurants fronting the shore. I liked it a lot. It was pretty and the shops were nice. I loaded up on pain killers for my knee and spent a few hours walking around. I was especially excited to see they had a Dole Whip storefront there! I thought those were only available at Disney World!!! Of course, I had one and it was delicious! I also stopped in at the Lush store, which I shouldn't have done because there are Lush stores near my home. But I was good and only bought a few things. I took my Dole Whip and walked to the park that had the giant Banyan tree, and a spot called The Birthing Rock, which I learned about by eavesdropping on a school field trip. Apparently, the rock was an historically popular place for native Hawaiian women to give birth because at the spot, both sea water and fresh water, via a stream, met and that was considered a healthy place to have a baby. I sat there for about an hour and just relaxed.
The Birthing Rock in Lahaina
The park along Front Street in Lahaina

View from the Park of Front Street in Lahaina

The shore along Front Street in Lahaina

Shopping along Front Street

The narrow strip of beach along Front St in Lahaina
For lunch, I walked over to Kimo's On the Waterfront, which was right there on Front Street, and recommended by Fodor's. It was a nice location on the water, and the food was okay. The service was very good and the prices were also good. After lunch, I drove to Kahekili Beach in Lahaina to just hang out by the sand. I was fortunate to find a shady spot under a tree and I spent a lovely two hours just lazing. Then it was time to drive to the luau.
Kahekili Beach in Lahaina

Lots of birds hung out on the beaches hoping to get food scraps from the sunbathers.
This was the first of two luaus that I booked for my trip. I chose Old Lahaina Luau because Fodor's recommended it as the most authentic. Unlike most of the other luaus I researched, this one is held in a free-standing building of its own, instead of in a hotel. I got there early and changed into my nice, sexy maxi dress in the (very prettily decorated) ladies' room. Since I was early, I was able to park very near to the entrance. I checked in and then waited about half an hour before they opened the doors and seated everyone. The tables were all communal tables, so I would be seated with strangers - Yikes! I really liked the layout of the place. It was right on the beach so you saw the beautiful sunset as the evening progressed. I got a nice lei, and the seats were comfortable.
Dancing and drumming at the Old Lahaina Luau
Everything was very pretty and tropical looking. The waiters were all attractive young Hawaiian men. (Eye Candy!). I took some time to walk around, drinking my non-alcoholic fruit punch (because of the pain killers that I was taking, I did not drink any alchohol during my trip), and I bought a hand-carved tiki statue for $40. There were crafts people there selling their wares, and hula lessons, which I did not take part in because of my knee. When it was time to be seated for the show, I saw that the rest of the people were there at my table. It was an Asian family at the end, and then a middle-aged mom, her teenaged daughter, and another young girl who was a family friend. I sat right next to these three ladies. The family friend was not very interesting, the mom was talkative and kind of a "Debbie Downer" but I really liked her teenaged daughter and enjoyed talking with her the whole night. For some reason, I felt instant love for that girl! So it was very pleasant to have them as table mates. The Asian family didn't really talk to anybody except themselves.
The buffet dinner at the Old Lahaina Luau
Our waiter was cute and he flirted with me all night. The show was wonderful! The music, narration (telling the origin story and a little history of Hawaii and Maui, in particular), and the dances were fantastic. It was all so lovely to watch in front of the setting sun, right on the beach. The food was buffet style, and it was good, and there was plenty. It wasn't displayed particularly attractively, but it was good and I had my fill. The desserts were the best part!!! Our waiter brought trays of mini dessert bites, and they were all amazingly delicious, tropical and unnusual. At the end, I said goodbye to my table mates, generously tipped out waiter, who did a great job taking care of us, and left for the slightly spooky, dark ride along the narrow, twisting road back to Kihei, and I felt very satisfied that this had been a lovely day.
Buildings at the Old Lahaina Luau

Old Lahaina Luau

Old Lahaina Luau

On Friday, I got up early (thank you, Yard Rooster!), and just had the leftover banana bread slice (that they gave us at the luau the night before) for breakfast. It was delicious! Banana bread is a big thing on Maui, I guess because of lots of banana trees? Then I set out on the drive north up the coast to Kapalua for my mani/pedi appointment at Spa Montage at the Kapalua Resort. Kapalua is another of the fancier resort towns, and the drive up was very pretty. It took about two hours, driving through Lahaina and the narrow, twisty cliffside roads, and up into an area that is often referred to as "upcountry."
To be continued.....