This arti­cle is part 4 of 9 in the series The Maui Condiments

The Altima was a com­fort­able car, much bet­ter than I expect­ed, and I cruised eas­i­ly along well-paved Highway 32, con­nect­ing with Highway 30 which led around the west end of the island and head­ed north toward Kaanapali.  Highway 30 is known as the Honoapiilani Highway, but most main­lan­ders have trou­ble pro­nounc­ing all the vow­els in the Hawaiian words, so Highway 30 rolls more eas­i­ly off the tongue.

The high­way runs par­al­lel to the shore, occa­sion­al­ly through tun­nels, but most­ly sand­wiched between the shore and the hills, offer­ing some beau­ti­ful scenery along the way.  It skirts along the island side of Lahaina, an old fish­ing vil­lage that is now a shore­line shop­ping mec­ca filled with art shops, tour guide shops, and an ABC store on just about every block. 

There are a few good restau­rants in Lahaina, but most of those are locat­ed in the hotels far­ther up the coast.  Lahaina restau­rants cater most­ly to the young crowd who come in for a break from the beach or surf­ing or wind­sail­ing for a quick burg­er.  A lot of tour boats work out of Lahaina as well and the town has an exten­sive dock area as well as a hotel that prob­a­bly goes back to the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry and served sailors off the com­mer­cial ships and boats that came in.

All the newest hotels are up around Kaanapali or down at the oth­er end of the island in Wailea.

I could see the back side of Lahaina — it only extends a few blocks back from the shore — as I head­ed on north where I would reach my hotel in anoth­er fif­teen min­utes or so.

As I drove onto the grounds of the hotel it was obvi­ous that this was one of the new­er ones on the island.  A long dri­ve­way lead­ing to the main entrance was framed with native trees and well-man­i­cured lawns. The gate­keep­er exud­ed island friend­li­ness as he hand­ed me a park­ing stub and raised the gate for me to enter.

I parked near the entrance and walked into a spa­cious open-air space casu­al­ly dec­o­rat­ed and beau­ti­ful­ly kept. Apparently, the lob­bies of most Hawaiian hotels are always open to the ele­ments because the weath­er here is so con­stant.  They nev­er have to wor­ry about cold tem­per­a­tures, but I could­n’t help won­der­ing as a new vis­i­tor to the islands what they did when hur­ri­canes occurred.  There seemed to be no way to close off these open areas in those instances.

The young, dark-haired lady at the recep­tion desk flashed a warm smile that seemed to bright­en the flow­ered, flow­ing dress she wore.

“Good evening, sir.  Welcome to the Kaanapali Shores.”  If words could be described as aro­mat­ic, hers echoed the hibis­cus flow­ers that abound on the island.

“Good evening,” I gushed, some­what embar­rassed by being so struck by this young beau­ty.  “I’m Michael Tate.  I believe you have a reser­va­tion for me.”

She turned deft­ly to the com­put­er beside her, typed in a few key­strokes, and said, “Yes, Mr. Tate.  We have you stay­ing ten days with us.  Your rooms are on the eighth floor, fac­ing the shore.”

“Rooms?” I asked, some­what puzzled.

“Yes sir.  Your suite has a liv­ing room and a sep­a­rate bed­room as well as a small kitchen area.  I’m sure this will allow you to be more com­fort­able dur­ing your stay.”

“I’m sure it will.”  Thank you, L.T. I thought to myself.

After all the usu­al check-in pro­ce­dures, I was giv­en my room access card and shown where I could park and where the suite was locat­ed on the floor, as well as infor­ma­tion about the hotel shops and din­ing room. I head­ed back to the car to find a con­ve­nient park­ing slot and to move my bags to the room.

I chose not to inquire about a Mr. Herschel stay­ing at the hotel right now.  I did­n’t want some acci­den­tal slip from the recep­tion desk telling him that some­one had inquired about him.  There would be time enough to search him out.

The doors of the ele­va­tor opened to a small open-air foy­er on the eighth floor look­ing out over a vast blue ocean and the island of Molokai in the dis­tance. Looking down­ward, I could see the tops of palm trees sway­ing gen­tly in the con­stant island breeze and the top of the beach­front restau­rant nes­tled between the court­yard of the hotel and the shore.

Not only was I look­ing for­ward to try­ing the hotel fare at the restau­rant, but I also fig­ured that it would be a set­ting in which I would be like­ly, at some point, to run into Herschel.

Entering my room — or suite — I was struck by its immac­u­late con­di­tion, neat and tidy and obvi­ous­ly set up for the com­fort of guests.  There was a huge sec­tion­al sofa sur­round­ing a cof­fee table and addi­tion­al lounge chairs, all of which would sup­port a small gath­er­ing. Just off to the side was a small round din­ing table adja­cent to a mod­est kitchen with all the nec­es­sary ameni­ties for prepar­ing a meal or enjoy­ing a break­fast in. 

Beyond the liv­ing room a large slid­ing glass door opened to a small bal­cony fit­ted with a lounge chair and a small table with two addi­tion­al chairs where one could, I sup­pose, enjoy a game of cards or check­ers or chess in the shade and a cool breeze from off the ocean.

The bed­room was small but ade­quate with ample space in a dress­er and clos­et for any amount of clothes brought for a stay.

I imme­di­ate­ly set about orga­niz­ing my clothes in draw­ers and on hang­ers and arrang­ing my kit in the bath­room, anx­ious to get back down to the lob­by to explore the grounds, ori­ent myself, and begin plan­ning on ways to encounter my target.

After a quick show­er and a change of clothes, I head­ed back to the first floor via a dif­fer­ent set of ele­va­tors and dis­cov­ered that the hotel offered free video rentals to guests and that there was a small library near the lob­by where guests could take, leave, or bor­row books.

Of course, I did­n’t plan on hav­ing time for videos or read­ing but it’s also pos­si­ble that these loca­tions could become meet­ing points.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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