Mellow Hana
beckons for
next nuptials

A spirituality blankets
the eastern Maui town
that could help your
second marriage last

HANA, Maui >> For my first wedding, a seamstress custom-made my gown and 300 people swarmed our catered beachfront dinner. The second time, everything else in our lives was so complicated that the wedding demanded simplicity. And Hana -- a small town on the eastern shores of Maui, with no high-rises or malls, accessible by Cessna or a 2 1/2-hour drive from Maui's main airport in Wailuku -- beckoned.

The first time we visited Hotel Hana-Maui, the only alternative to B&Bs or vacation homes in Hana, my fiance's massive briefcase elicited a chuckle from general manager Doug Chang.

"What are you doing with that?" he asked.

My fiancé, Ed, ran his hand over the cell phone on his belt, muttering that work couldn't wait. Chang pointed to the leather case.

"You won't even open it."

He was right. Ed slept in. He took naps. He didn't watch the Sunday game because the rooms don't have televisions. They don't even have clocks. Most cell phones don't work in the shadows of the dormant volcano Haleakala, and newspapers aren't delivered to the door. You can get high-speed Internet access in the Club Room -- "if you must" -- said Chang.

Instead, we took walks. Conversed. Read. Jogged on a trail through a herd of cows. Watched horses graze. Listened to the ocean. Hiked to a beach glowing in red sand and brimming with local characters. After two days, we knew we would get married there.

The isolation and serenity -- while lacking the festivities first-timers often seek -- is an ideal answer for couples taking subsequent trips down the aisle, often with blended families in tow. And with more than half of first marriages ending in divorce, that's quite a few people.

Amenities are essential for the second wedding with mini-honeymoon. Glitz is not. This was that rare place that could please our parents, our children and us.

A spirituality blankets Hana. It feels different from the rest of Maui. It's a little greener, more unpredictable, less developed. It has the expansive feel of a working ranch; indeed, the hotel sits on the 4,700-acre Hana Ranch, where 2,000 head of cattle roam.

Despite Hotel Hana-Maui's luxury status, forget the mini bar with $8 sips of alcohol and $17 sunscreen. If you need anything, walk a few minutes to the general store and shop with barefoot residents. After a glimpse of rural, small-town life, you can trot back to your Sea Ranch Cottage, pour a glass of wine and slip into the spa on the lanai -- a Hawaiian-style veranda -- under the stars.

During the day, visit Charles Lindbergh's modest grave or tour the array of waterfalls amid the scent of ripe mangoes.

Our ceremony took place in Wananalua Congregational Church, located next door. But many choose to marry on the lawn between stone torches overlooking the ocean. Dinner at the resort's restaurant completed the effortless evening.

Hana isn't for everyone. Some guests report boredom. After all, there's no golf course and nightlife is limited. Others complain about the difficulty in getting there.

Yet for these reasons, Hotel Hana-Maui remains one of the best kept secrets in the Islands -- a 66-room ranch-style hotel spread over 67 acres. Passport Resorts, the hotel's owner, recently finished a major portion of what will be an $11 million renovation.

"Hana is a special place," said managing partner Peter Heinemann. "We're trying to get people who are seeking a place to restore their spirit and soul, and decompress. It's a very slow pace, and you just come down a few notches. You have time to walk and think and talk to your significant other."

And that may be just enough to make the marriage last this time.


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