We were in Maui for a week in December.
After Dubai and before starting our life in San Francisco.
Hawaii has always been our milestone destination. For our fifth anniversary we were in Oahu ( after Australia) and our first baby moon we were in Kauai. It made sense to continue with our Hawaii theme for our 10th anniversary as well as second baby moon (if a vacation with an active 3-year-old when you are at fag-end of second trimester can be called as any kind of “moon”).
Maui has always been an elusive destination for us. We have planned to visit many times before Varun. We almost had purchased tickets but something or the other was always in the way. This time we wanted to visit Maui as we started our second phase in US.
I wasn’t sure how I would fare the long flight from India to US. I wanted to see if I could manage another 5+ hours flight so we booked our tickets fairly late minute.
Where We Stayed
Since we had “researched” the island earlier, we knew where we wanted to stay. It was either Lahaina in West Maui or Wailea in South Maui. Both have excellent sunset views, calm crescent beaches and luxury resorts catering to every whim you would have. We didn’t really plan to do much of sight-seeing anyways so we didn’t really care to be in center of things.
Based on the deals that we saw at that time, Four Seasons, Maui was booked. And boy was it a fantastic choice or what. Luxurious expansive rooms, water views, top-notch service and little details that make your stay memorable. Its expected at a resort like this. What really blew me away was their kid friendliness.
Little robe for Varun? Check
One Planet Lotion/Shampoo/ Bath wash for kids and babies? Check
Complimentary Pool/Beach toys ? Check
Complimentary kid friendly books, video rentals? Check
Kids for All Season – A complimentary play area with activities (gecko hunting, swimming, beach combing etc) and toys for kids including meals and snacks ? Check
The last one was so loved by Varun. Between that and the beach he couldn’t decide where he wanted to go.
But it was not overrun with kids. There was a separate adults only area with swim up bar and infinity pool , up and away from the chaos of kid and family pool.
We enjoyed that as well thanks to the babysitting service that we could avail from Four Seasons concierge. The baby sitters are carefully shortlisted and checked so you can actually enjoy your vacation without worrying about your kid not being in safe hands.
We met so many families by the pool who return here every year around the same time every year from various cities in US to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of Four Seasons. They have formed friendships over their vacation and are excited to see them. I think that speaks the most about the resort.
If you have a child and are looking for a chilled out resort in Maui, really look no further than Four Seasons. I would go again in a heartbeat.
What did we do?
There is literally a ton of activities to do in Maui. Shortlisting ones to do given the limited time you have on the island is a challenge. We didn’t plan to do much other than drive to Hana and Snorkel. Rest was pool and beach time.
A drive unto Haleakala summit was out of question as was some of the other activities we would typically have indulged in on such a vacation – hiking, learning to surf or even scuba diving.
Luckily, Varun didn’t mind the drive to Hana. He actually loves waterfalls and was excited to visit one after the another. He didn’t snorkel but we took turns snorkeling by the Molokini crater. The reef is alive and teeming with colorful fishes. Very vibrant and reminiscent of our scuba diving experience in Cairns.
By the day, Varun played in the pool with other kids or played in the sand digging our feet in on the beach.
Or chasing birds
Afternoons were either in the kids for All Season or napping.
Evenings were spent watching pink sunsets along the beach or the board walk.
Tiki torch lighting ceremony and Hula dancing at the resort was followed by dinner.
A movie or books reading time for Varun and then bedtime.
Sometimes its an adrenaline packed vacation that you remember for ever. Like our time in Costa Rica. Other times its relaxing vacation that makes wonderful memories. Varun talks about waterfalls and beach from Hawaii. He remembers how we had to get back from Hana before it got very dark. And the beautiful pictures of Varun and Vipul are something I will cherish forever.
I got to chill out, enjoy a massage and sleep in before the fast pace of life took over again. I would so not trade our time in Maui for anything.
They say Hawaii spoils you forever. The greenery, the laid back pace of life, coffee, soft sand, waterfalls, seafood, naps in middle of day and the Aloha spirit. We have visited three island so far and I agree, we are spoilt. Can’t wait to go back again – this time with two kids in tow!
One of the best places for kids in Dubai is Ski Dubai, especially if they have not seen snow before like Varun!
Located in Mall of Emirates, its the largest indoor ski and snow park of its kind. Varun was reluctant to go and wanted to instead go to the pool in the hotel. We somehow managed to convince him that throwing snow at mamma will be more fun. We reached there, bought our tickets ( again Explorer has a 2 for 1 deal on adult tickets) and changed in shoes and snow suits ( included in ticket price). We had carried our skiing gloves and hats but there is an option to buy them there.
Varun was so excited once we reached the place, he barely had the patience to change into snowsuit and wear hat and mittens.
Once inside he just wanted to scoop up the snow, form a ball and throw it at me and Vipul.
And the other thing he loved was tubing. He took so many turns going up the slope with the tandem tubing tires in tow and flying down the slope. He especially loved when it turned and twisted.
And then he had fun pulling Vipul on the sled!
Slightly older kids loved the toboggan slides. And their parents had a hard time taking them away from the slides. We didn’t try skiing or Zorbing but even those are available inside the park at an additional cost.
The only weird part was that as the ski dome has a glass wall shared with restaurants and the mall, it was funny watching people in shorts and dresses outside while you are in frigid temperature. It felt a bit like we were in a zoo with others watching us while we played in snow.
Even we had to drag Varun out of the park after a few hours. He was tired but didn’t want to stop playing.
Albeit expensive, it was the best part of Dubai trip for Varun. The smiles and giggles were totally worth it!! Don’t miss it especially of you are from tropical parts of the world.
Psst: Read more about our Dubai adventures here!
Dubai – it evokes all kinds of emotions.
A desert oasis, cosmopolitan city on persian gulf, progressive, and a city of superlatives: man-made islands, largest indoor ski, worlds best 7 star luxury resort, tallest building and tallest musical fountains. It’s also a city of extremes – modest but progressive Emirati (as people of UAE are known) rubbing shoulders with the folks dressed in latest fashions and trends; glitzy towering high rises overlooking traditional mosques; high desert temperatures outside with the coolest of the air-conditioning indoors; arid desert surrounding turquoise swimming pools in almost all hotels (without the water fee as charged in Las Vegas); traditional gold souks and glittering malls with displays of diamonds and gold as if its going out of fashion.
We always thought we will visit Dubai en-route to US or India. It was always an after thought. But lugging so many bags was never appealing and we never visited Dubai.
This time however, we had no choice but to break our journey in Dubai. Hyderabad has best connections to San Francisco via Dubai on Emirates airlines. The Dubai – SFO flight usually leaves around 9:00 am local time. Which means we have to leave Hyderabad at 2:00 am to make it to Dubai on time. With a toddler and almost in my third trimester, I didn’t want to travel in middle of night. So we decided to take a day flight to Dubai and stay there for a few days.
Plus, the service on Emirates is top-notch. I trusted them to help me out incase I experienced any issues en-route than any European airline.
With the dates planned out, we were set to make rest of the planning; activities, lodging, visa etc.
If you are flying with Emirates, getting a visa is a breeze. They have an option to apply for a visa online. You fill in passport details. upload a photo online and pay for it. Visa is emailed to you on approval. Simple and efficient.
Makes you wonder why other countries don’t follow this simple procedure?
Where to Stay
Dubai officially has many areas to stay and visit but as tourist ( and one with kids), you want to base yourself in one of the two areas: around Dubai Mall or in Dubai Marina. Both are happening areas with tons of activities, restaurants and lodging options from luxury condos to hotels.
If its your first visit to the city, don’t stay at the beach resort if you plan to do other sight-seeing. Dubai is not really known for its beaches and you will have to hail a cab every time you need to visit the city’s attractions.
We chose to stay near Dubai Mall at Al Murooj Rotana. As we planned this trip fairly last-minute, budget was the main reason for going for this hotel. But we were glad with the room, its size, amenities on the property (swimming pool, Wi-Fi, Club room with breakfast and proximity to Dubai Mall. There was some mix up when we got there, we got a teeny tiny room assigned but managed to get it changed.
Also, we had a promotional mailer to upgrade to Club Room which we signed up for. At 130 AED this entitled us to breakfast, wi-fi in room and evening snacks/tapas and drinks. A steal really if you consider the cost individually. But when we reached there they said that the promotional offer is expired at that price but the same is available for 250 AED.
Given that breakfast itself would have cost us 120 – 150 AED everyday, we signed up for this. In hindsight this worked out very well. We ended up making evening snacks our meals as Varun was sleepy and too tired to go out anywhere. Ordering dinner or eating at on-site restaurant would have ben even more $$.
Dubai has a fantastic array of activities for all ages. Skiing, Sky Diving, Hot Air Balloon rides, Zorba, Sand boarding, Sailing and Dune bashing for the more adventurous, aquarium, dolphinarium, unique kid themed museums for the kids, malls and souks for those into couture to street side shopping, to beaches and parks for those who want to just chill.
We wanted to incorporate Varun in most of our activities so that he won’t get too bored with site-seeing. This is what we went for (details in ensuing posts).
Entertainer book has 1 for 2 coupons on most of the activities below other than entry to Burj Khalifa. The book costs about AED 350 but sometimes is available on Ebay or trip advisor for a discount. Each book has 3 coupons for each activity and even restaurants. So even if someone has used one or two coupons you can still buy it from them. Even at full price for us it saved us $$ on meals and activities. Highly recommended even if you plan on doing few activities like us.
3. Abra Boat ride on Dubai Creek to Gold Souk
4. Ski Dubai
Varun enjoyed Dubai as much as he could have, given that he was still upset over leaving Hyderabad and his stuff getting packed. He wanted to go back home to Jayabheri. But since the trip, he calls every tall building the “tallest building in the world”. Now that we are in San Francisco, he wants to go back to Dubai.
I think visiting Dubai without young kids would be way more fun. You can visit bars and restaurants that are 21 years and older that offer killer views of the city. You could indulge in Retail therapy all day long. And of course you can do all adventure sports available under the sun.
Oh well, we enjoyed what we could and we can’t wait for Varun to be older so we can do some of the activities together 🙂
Stay tuned for more Dubai trip details!