How to Fake a Tropical Vacation

You know those unspoken rules about being a decent human being like holding the elevator for someone or not eating tuna in confined spaces? I’ve recently added one to the list: don’t post pictures of Hawaii on Instagram during a polar vortex, even (especially?) if you live there. While I assume a constant feed of tropical posts automatically induces a certain level of eye rolling to begin with, to post palm trees and pool shots when parts of the Midwest are literally colder than the Arctic Circle…well, that’s just insufferable. 

Yet, despite my self-directed silence on almost all social media channels, my inbox has been filled with DMs from nearly frozen friends joking about how nice a Hawaiian vacation sounds right about now. Sadly, even if you’ve budgeted in a tropical escape into your rainy—make that snowy—day fund, it’s nearly impossible to fly in these conditions anyway. And so we’re left with the next best thing: a polar vortex staycation.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Drake, if you’re reading this (there’s a good chance) it’s too late. Meaning, I don’t expect that you have a plethora of island-scented shower gels or shampoos on hand to suddenly whip out and mentally transport yourself to the Hawaiian Islands. And I certainly don’t expect for you to pull out the snow boots and walk to the nearest drugstore. But if you’re lucky enough to still get Amazon deliveries (or are expecting future snowy, cold days), here’s what I’d recommend to conjure up those island vibes. 

First things first…get your house/apartment/bedroom hot. Like really, really hot. If it takes a while for your furnace to kick in, don’t sweat it (sorry, couldn’t resist!). You’re headed to the shower first anyway. This too should be hot—sensing a theme here?—and don’t be afraid to let it run for a while. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living in the tropics it’s that every day is a constant battle against humidity. Embrace it today. Close the door, leave the fan off, revel in the hot, almost uncomfortable amount of moisture in the air. 

You may not be able to make it to the beach, but you can recreate that toes in the water/you-know-what in the sand feeling with an in-shower body scrub. My personal favorite is Kopari’s Coconut Crush Scrub which is made with a blend of coconut oil, crushed coconut shells, and brown sugar. Of course if you’re willing to put in a little work before your staycation begins, you can always make your own version at home by mixing one cup raw sugar with one cup coconut oil. Follow up with an equally tropical smelling shampoo and conditioner, like H2O+’s Sea Greens Shampoo and Bumble & Bumble’s Creme de Coco Conditioner (or whatever you already have in shower works too.)

Now that you’re in the right headspace—thank you olfactory conditioning—it’s time to look the part. Dry off with a lush, fluffy, hotel-worthy towel before applying the heavenly smelling Noni Glow Body Balm by Kora, a rich balm-turns-body oil made of coconut and cupuaçu butter. With your skin prepped, you’re ready to give yourself what Mother Nature just can’t right now—a beautiful, golden tan. And since tanning beds/tanning oil/prolonged sun exposure are all detrimental for your skin anyway, an investment in a natural self tanner like Vita Liberata’s Invisi Foaming Tanning Water is worthwhile no matter the time of year.

Of course, having a tan body isn’t enough. To truly fake a tropical vacation, you’ll also need to recreate that quintessential out-of-office glow. Start with an exfoliating face mask like Goop’s Instant Facial which, as the name suggests, will instantly smoothen, brighten, and soften skin. Next, add some literal glow with Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Glow Drops, a product that subtly shimmers and hydrates all at once. And since the best part of any island vacation is obviously the sunsets, paint some of your own with Glossier’s Cloud Paint (and maybeee add a swipe of mascara because that’s really all the makeup you need on vacay anyway).

At this point it’s time to take the party out of the bathroom and into the real world…erm, the living room. Set the mood with Homesick’s Hawaii-scented candle (notes of pineapple and coconut) before turning on the Jack Johnson playlist on Spotify.

My biggest tip for feeling like a tropical vacation is to do all the things you’d normally do: reading, sleeping, laying out, not answering work emails…in fact, the more time horizontal, the better. So head to the couch, turn on Blue Crush, and stay a while. Just don’t forget a heavy handed, fruity cocktail—this is a vacation, after all.

P.S. A guide to grabbing some winter sun when temperatures are finally high enough to leave your house.

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

 
Four Seasons Hualalai for Hawaii Girl's Trip

I’m not necessarily a hotel loyalist, but there are certain companies that never let me down. On the top of that list: the Four Seasons. So when my best friend Natalie and I were looking for a property to stay at during our long weekend, we quickly decided on the Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I had stayed at the Four Seasons Ko Olina property on Oahu before, but everyone—including the event coordinator there—kept telling me some variation of “it’s a total different property; you’re going to love it.”

They weren’t wrong. The Hualalai is more resort than hotel, sprawling over several acres which include four restaurants, four pools, a golf course, two shops, tennis clubs, and a spa. It’s the perfect destination for a weekend of doing absolutely nothing…which is exactly what we did. While we had flirted with the idea of a rental car or even a simple cab ride down to Kona, our plans ended up being much more simple: a three day pool bender. As it turns out, the Four Seasons Hualalai is the perfect place for such a thing.

WHAT'S TO LOVE

You know that saying, “the devil is in the details?” Well, the Hualalai (like any Four Seasons) does not have that problem. In fact, what makes the Four Seasons so enjoyable is that every detail, down to the littlest thing, is already thought of AND taken care of for you.

My favorite detail? Being presented with a lei upon check-in. It’s a simple thing that truly turns the switch from normal life to vacation life for me. Some other honorable mentions include: the AC automatically turning off when our room’s lanai doors open (assuredly a cost saving measure for the hotel, but still pure magic to me), sunscreen stations in every pool/beach area, and the continual greeting of “Aloha, Mrs. Bean” from every member of the staff.

TAKE NOTE

While it probably goes without saying, the Four Seasons isn’t cheap. But it’s worth. every. dang. penny. Hawaii residents are able to book at a special rate though, so ask for the Kama’aina rate when making a reservation. You’ll need to present a state ID at check-in, but it’s worth the trip to the DMV if you don’t already have one.

ROOM SERVICE 

A few things about our room—

First, even for a double, it was incredibly spacious. We had both beds, a sitting a area, a private-ish (read: it was attached to our room, but we often spotted our neighbors rocking their birthday suits over breakfast…eek!), and a walk-in closet. And, despite spending all weekend together, the room gave us enough space to hang out without feeling like we were constantly in each other’s space.

Second, the room had so many thoughtful details: a place to hang to your leis, chromecast for binging Sex in the City reruns, and a complimentary beach bag for use during your stay.

Get out of bed For

As tempting as it might be to stay in bed all day, I can’t recommend signing up through the hotel for an additional “experience” enough if you don’t live in or frequently visit Hawaii. The resort offers a variety of excursions around the island that range from cliff jumping to stargazing to triathlon training.

Since I a) am scared of heights and b) have a strict light exercise only when on vacation rule, we originally planned on doing a coffee farm tour + tasting. When that fell through (our last minute booking meant the trip only had room for us at the tasting), we defaulted to doing nothing. For us, it was just what the doctor ordered. But let’s get real—lounging poolside can be done from almost anywhere in the continental United States. If you’re on the Big Island and you have the time, get out of the resort!

Would I go back? In a heart beat. In fact, I miggghttt be headed there next weekend to celebrate a certain husband’s birthday. Care to join?

P.S. Here’s everything I packed for a my weekend on the Big Island (spoiler: the jeans never made it).

The Laylow Hotel

 
Staycation at the Laylow Hotel in Honolulu, HI

If I were to make a list of all my favorite things about Hawaii, the Laylow Hotel would top that list. If you don't immediately recognize the name--I've mentioned it here and there on the blog before--you've probably seen the boutique hotel's signature wallpaper taking over your instagram. 

The husband and I like to think that we've been fans since the start, before the hotel rose to fame as Waikiki's trendiest hotel. We stumbled upon the hotel by complete chance last July--it opened in late April--while I was visiting from Korea. At the time, the husband lived on North Shore with several roommates, so we took the first of many staycations to the Laylow together the weekend I arrived. And then we came back the very next weekend. We were smitten.

Over the course of that entire year, the husband and I saw each other twice. With two out of those three weekends spent at the Laylow, the hotel holds a special place in both of hearts. It's our go-to place for getting away and well...laying low. 

When we cancelled our trip to Kona this past Memorial Day weekend, we opted instead for a staycation at our favorite hotel. Some highlights include: drinks at the Hideout, reading Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii (there's a copy in each room!), and cruffins for breakfast.

The Laylow Hotel

Here's what you need to know about a trip to the Laylow, an Autograph Collection Hotel:

WHAT'S TO LOVE

You'll be hard pressed to find a more charming hotel in all of Waikiki. Beyond the iconic walls, each room feels straight out of a Mad Men episode with it's mid-century modern touches and furniture. And, as if that weren't enough, each room includes a ukulele for your strumming pleasures! (Don't worry if you've never picked one up before; lessons are included in the hotel's resort fee).

TAKE NOTE

The Laylow resides on Kuhio Avenue, meaning it isn't beach front if that's important to you. However, it's only a six minute walk from the world famous Waikiki Beach and a two minute walk from Kalakaua Avenue, otherwise known as Luxury Row for it's high end shopping opportunities. 

The Laylow Hotel

ROOM SERVICE

I've stayed in almost every type of room in the hotel...corner suite, junior suite, standard room...and can genuinely say that they are all equally great. No matter your budget or the hotel's availability, you're in for a good time. And don't let the mid-century aesthetic fool you; each room is equipped with device enabled flat screen televisions, speakers, and in-room wifi.

If you're able to choose, my favorite rooms for a weekend (or longer) are the deluxe corner suites which offer plenty of unique spaces to enjoy like a queen daybed, a sitting area, and a balcony. Just in for the night? Check into a pool side Cabana room. It's on the main floor, so you get easy access to the hotel's restaurant, bar, and gift shop as well.  

We'll be back soon, I'm sure. Hope to see you there!

P.S. All photos were taken by Cait Schlabach. She's a fabulous photographer and an even better historian. She runs the non-profit Project Green Faces

Packing List No. 2 | The Beach

Hawaii has a plethora of great beaches to enjoy and, if you don't already, you'll be sure to find a favorite soon. For some people, it's the surf conditions that make the difference. For others, it's the potential for a great tan. But the real secret to a great beach day anywhere? It's all in what you pack!

THE BAG

For my first dozen or so trips to the beach here, I recycled my Tory Sport shopping bags to carry all my beach essentials. The bags are adorable (those preppy blue and green stripes!) and made out of a nylon-esque material that's relatively sand and water resistant. However, the bags are also shapeless and have zero pockets. The contents of my bag spilled out every time I set one down and I always brought home at least a few pounds of unwanted sand. 

That being said, an investment in a dedicated beach bag pays for itself. Look for a large bag with enough structure to stay upright, a few pockets for smaller items, and is made out of a material that can withstand the elements. 

SUN ESSENTIALS

Sunscreen is a non-negotiable in life, but especially when dealing with the strong Hawaiian sun. Besides the serious risk of melanoma, sun damage is also responsible for roughly 90% of signs of aging (you'll either thank yourself or hate yourself when you're fifty #choosesunscreen). 

Not all sunscreens are created equal though and the best protection usually includes incorporating multiple types into your routine. I recommend a rub-in (mousse or lotion type) sunscreen for your body. They tend to be thicker in nature than other types, but you'll know for certain if you missed a spot! 

Next, pack a sunscreen specifically designed for your face (to prevent clogged pores and irritations) and protection for your lips. Plenty of chapsticks have built in SPF already, but you can step it up a notch with this lip shine.

Lastly, tuck in an oil based spray to protect your lovely locks. Prolonged sun exposure and salty water can leave your hair dry and brittle. The right products won't only prevent damage, but add shine to your soon-to-be wind swept hair! This is a personal tried and true favorite, but this spray--created by celebrity hairstylist and Oahu native Jen Atkin-- has gotten nothing but great reviews. 

What not to pack? Tanning oil. If you're trying to build color, opt for a product that offers a guiltless glow + protection like this sunless tanner. 

TEXTILES

While fluffy towels are dreamy, but they take up a lot of space in your bag and hardly ever dry completely. Instead, opt for a couple of Turkish towels.

Thinner material means you'll get a neater fold in your beach bag, leaving more room for the fun stuff. Low volume + quick dry time = perfect beach companion.  Oh, and did I mention their signature stripes? It's a win-win-win situation.

TECH SUPPORT

I'm a huge advocate of putting the phone away during beach hours (your brightness only goes up so high anyway!), but there's no reason to forgo technology completely. The right tech tools can turn a simple beach outing into a beach party.

In the mood to turn it up? Pack this retro inspired speaker from the Australian "summer lifestyle'" brand SunnyLife.  In addition to being sand and water resistant, this speaker literally plays your tunes anyway you like it--AM/FM, bluetooth, USB, aux cord, you name it. While you're there, pick up this underwater camera and this electric pump for all your adorable floats. (Real talk: you'll want pretty much everything SunnyLife offers...)

THE FUN STUFF

Remember that fun stuff I mentioned earlier? Here's where you pack your bag full to the brim with your favorite reading materials (I'm a novel girl, but you may be strictly magazines), beach games, and lots of snacks. 

Pro tip: Once you've gathered everything you need, pack your bag ahead of time. Keeping your beach bag fully stocked ensures you won't forget anything important (like sunscreen!) when headed out the door, making those impromptu trips with friends all that much easier. 

See you at the beach!

P.S. HOW TO SPEND A WEEKEND IN WAIKIKI

Passport to Luxury with Tory Sport

Last Friday I was kindly invited by Tory Sport Hawaii to attend Passport to Luxury, a private shopping event at the Ala Moana Center. We're incredibly lucky in Honolulu to even have a Tory Sport (there's only six in the United States!) and I felt even more fortunate that I was invited to spend time with such a select group of clients.

The event, hosted annually by Modern Luxury Hawai'i', featured several luxury boutiques, each with their own in-store presentations.

Naturally, I spent the majority of my time at Tory Sport. I loved getting to know some of the women who work there, shopping the spring arrivals (give me all the green stripes!), and participating in the store's fun raffles. The boutique also served delicious bites from one of Honolulu's best restaurants, Yauatcha--which I'm craving now just thinking about!

 

While I love just about everything Tory Sport creates, the 2018 Spring Collection is my favorite to date! I'm naturally drawn to blues and greens, so I appreciate that the collection offers a spectrum of color and pattern options for both. And as always, the collection celebrates women embracing ambition; so the clothes are as functional as they are stylish.

I walked away with this anorak jacket and this adorable tennis themed key fob. I had originally planned on picking up a pair of these leggings too, but the store was sold out of my size by the time I arrived. Luckily, they're still available online! Side note: I already owned this performance cashmere sweater, but I can't suggest it enough. It's the most comfortable sweater plus it has a nice relaxed fit--perfect for on and off the court!

Ultimately, the evening was fun with a purpose as a portion of all sales were donated to this year's charity the Hawaii Community Foundation.

I can't thank Tory Sport Hawaii enough for the invitation, especially my girl Christine! (If you need anything from Tory Sport, I can't recommend working with Christine enough--she's absolutely fantastic. Just tell her I sent you!)

Thank you to Tory Sport Hawaii, Ala Moana Center, and Modern Luxury Hawai'i Magazine for graciously hosted the event.