Lahaina B&B features the best of 2 worlds
At the Plantation Inn, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
During the day you can check out the diversions of bustling Lahaina town, one of Maui's most popular visitor destinations.
At night you can slip away to the inn, a tranquil, romantic haven with beautifully appointed accommodations harking back to the turn of the last century.
The Plantation Inn
Address: 174 Lahainaluna Road, Lahaina, Maui
Call: 808-667-9225 or toll-free 800-433-6815
Rates: Based on double occupancy, nightly kamaaina rates are $135 for a Standard room; $160, Superior; and $200, Deluxe, including complimentary breakfast for two, parking and use of VCRs and video movies. A Kamaaina Gourmet Package, available through December at $250 for the first night and $160 per additional night, includes a Superior room and three-course dinner at Gerard's the first night (with champagne and keepsake glasses).
Web site: www.theplantationinn.com
Notes: The inn is not recommended for young children. Guests without a package deal that includes dinner will receive a $25-per-person discount each time they dine at Gerard's. There is a coin-operated laundry on site.
Touring Historic Lahaina
» Maui Nei offers a guided two-hour historical Lahaina walking tour for 10 to 25 people. The cost is $40 for adults and $26 for ages 10 through 16 (kamaaina pay $30 and $16, respectively). Participation by young children is discouraged. However, they are welcomed free if the accompanying adult believes they can handle the walk. Reservations are required. Call 808-661-9494.
» The Lahaina Historic Trail is a self-guided tour of the town. Thirty signs on Front Street explain the significance of sites such as the Baldwin Home Museum, the Wo Hing Temple, the Old Courthouse/Banyan Tree and the Fort Ruins, the fortress and jail that date to the mid-1800s when Lahaina was the Pacific's whaling capital. Pick up a free trail map at the Lahaina Visitor Center in the Old Courthouse. Call 808-667-9193 or visit www.visitlahaina.com.
I've always appreciated the comfort, intimacy and charm of bed-and-breakfasts; the inn offers all this plus a convenient location just two blocks from Front Street, Lahaina's main artery.
The weekend, my boyfriend, Paul, and I were there, we left our car keys on our room dresser; everything we wanted to do was within walking distance from movies, museums, shopping, boat excursions, an array of dining options and great entertainment (don't miss "Ulalena," a show best described as Polynesia meets Cirque du Soleil).
It was fun playing tourist, and our downtime at the inn was as enjoyable as our two full days of activities.
The armoire, night stands, coffee table and four-poster canopy bed in our room were crafted of gleaming red cherry wood and embellished with intricate carvings. Hand-painted orange blossoms were strewn across the ebony desk, and white floor-length curtains and stained-glass windows adorned the double French doors. Our veranda overlooked a lovely garden courtyard with a 10-foot-deep pool, Jacuzzi and lounge chairs.
The inn was so quiet that we couldn't believe we were in the heart of Lahaina.
"It's like going from the hectic pace of suburbia to the calm of the country in a few steps," Paul observed.
Through tasteful selections of furnishings, wallpaper, bedspreads, art and window treatments, the inn's 18 other rooms and suites show off their unique Victorian, tropical or contemporary ambiance. The two Honeymoon Suites are equipped with a microwave, two-burner stove and small refrigerator. The Family Suite's kitchen comes with full-size appliances, pots, pans, utensils and service for four.
If dining out better suits your taste, Gerard's Restaurant, winner of a host of accolades including a coveted 2006 Mobil Four-Star Award, is on the premises. Owner/chef Gerard Reversade, originally from France, has garnered rave reviews from gourmets around the world for his superb French cuisine incorporating island ingredients. Think ahi tartare with taro chips, foie gras with poha berry compote, roasted Hawaiian snapper with emulsion of orange and ginger, rack of lamb with Olowalu tomato stuffed with olive purée, banana or mango tarte tatin, and Reversade's sorbets in flavors such as coconut and passion fruit.
COURTESY THE PLANTATION INN
In bustling Lahaina, the Plantation Inn is an oasis of solitude and old-fashioned grace and charm.
Breakfast by Gerard's is included in the inn's rates. No Frosted Flakes or Love's doughnuts here. Served poolside from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., this repast includes fresh fruit with toasted coconut and your choice of homemade granola and yogurt; bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon; poached eggs Basquaise (a tomato-based sauce with onions, garlic and red, green and yellow peppers); or the hands-down favorite, Reversade's signature French toast.
This rich pastry is made with French bread, eggs, cream and fresh vanilla beans, and dusted with powdered sugar. Put on a pat of butter, drizzle real maple syrup over it, and you've got an irresistible treat you could gladly eat every day of your stay.
The morning we were to check out, we woke early and spent an hour before breakfast relaxing on our veranda. Paul immersed himself in a Michael Crichton novel; I jotted poems on paper. No one else was in sight; we felt as though we were ensconced at our own private estate -- sharing the peace but very much in our own space.
We loved our visit to the inn so much we didn't want to leave. Apparently, that's not unusual. While returning our room key at the front desk, another guest came up and asked if he and his wife could stay three more nights.
"We'd like to cancel the reservations we've made at a hotel and keep our room here instead," he said. "Please tell us we can do that."
COURTESY THE PLANTATION INN
Rooms and suites are done up in Victorian, contemporary and tropical styles to suit individual travelers' preferences.
He got his extension and left with a smile as bright as the Lahaina sun.
"Many of our guests return year after year for extended stays," said Luana Paahana, the inn's director of sales and marketing. "Our employees get to know them on a first-name basis, and they get to know our employees. It's the kind of personal relationship that's hard to develop at a big resort."
She recalled the Hubbells, an elderly couple from Michigan who have been staying at the inn every year for the past 15 years. "They're with us for exactly 41 days each winter, and they're the sweetest couple on the planet," she said. "They bring gifts for all the girls who work there. The first year, they gave everyone flower leis. The next year, they brought scarves. The year after that, they handed out boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. They do this every year."
Guests often share snapshots of their home, family and pets with housekeepers and gardeners, and forge fast friendships with each other, too.
One morning at breakfast, we saw two couples at adjacent tables start conversing. Before long, they had dragged their tables and chairs together and were chatting away as if they had known each other for years.
That doesn't surprise Paahana. "When you stay at the Plantation Inn," she said, "you become part of one big happy family."
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.