Showing posts with label Ko Olina Resort and Marina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ko Olina Resort and Marina. Show all posts

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here Comes the Bride, Wedding Guests . . . and Tourists

Just like kittens, wine glasses and sunsets, I can’t pass up a good wedding photo. Can you? It doesn’t even have to be anyone I know, as evidenced by this post. And I am seldom alone in my efforts –  other tourists seem to be as taken with the scene unfolding before them as I am.

I should have this shutter-finger reaction because I am a romantic and love weddings. But I don't. We simply enjoy watching the drama surrounding those perfectly posed wedding photos. Those images that will lock the day’s events into picture-perfect history.

Destination weddings have become big ticket tourism in the United States.  Gone are the days of the traditional church wedding with the couple jetting off alone for a honeymoon destination – nowadays the wedding, the guests and honeymoon merge into one far-away affair.

PicMonkey Collage
Undeveloped lagoon at KoOlina; the alter for a wedding in the photo on the right

Hawaii is one of the destination that attracts thousands to its sandy shores for the all-inclusive wedding and honeymoon events. A research manager for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, quoted in an on-line news article, reported that 27,000 Japanese couples married in Hawaii in 2010.


That’s not surprising based on what we’ve seen there recently. At KoOlina, the resort on O’ahu’s west coast where we spend several weeks each winter, there’s a steady stream of limousines bringing wedding parties to the small wedding chapels strategically located throughout the development. Each chapel just footsteps from one of the four lagoons that are on the property. Often times the wedding photos include backdrops of semi-naked sun-basking tourists like the one below. It was taken front of the wedding chapel located next to Disney’s Aulani Resort (that high rise building in the background is the former JW Marriott Ihilani, soon to be Four Seasons).
KoOlina Wedding
Depending on number of guests and amenities (like bridal bouquets, chairs for guests and photographers) the prices quoted on the KoOlina Weddings web site range from $5,600 to $9,000.  Not bad when compared to the average cost of a wedding alone in the United States being somewhere in the range of $28,000 to $30,000 (depending on the source of your statistics).
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KoOlina wedding
We’ve been spotting destination (and a few local) weddings almost everywhere we’ve been in recent years. Like our cruise ship stop in Catania, Italy where the wedding party dog stole the show from the bride and groom:

PicMonkey Collage
In Greece we happened upon weddings in small villages as well as the big city.

View of Kardamyli's Historic old town - Peloponnese, Greece
From our hotel room in Kardamyli a small town in the Mani region of the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece we overlooked the old town section with its newly renovated tower.  One day while admiring the view we couldn’t help but notice a flurry of activity among the historic buildings.  A closer look, showed us what was happening: wedding photos.

Kardamyli, Greece
During a stop in Athens, we  headed to the Acropolis – one of our favorite strolling places in town.

Athen's Acropolis
As we strolled its perimeter and approached the nearby Areopagus or Mars Hill, we noticed far more tourists clamoring on it than we’d seen on earlier visits.

Areopagus is the hill from which St. Paul preached about the identify of the “Unknown God” to the Athenians in 52 A.C; a time Athens was occupied by the Romans. It is named for Ares, the god of war, (known to the Romans as Mars). Ares, as the story goes, was tried on this marble hill for the murder of Poseidon’s son who had violated his daughter.

Areopagus, or Mars Hill, Athens, Greece
Zooming in on the beehive of activity, I realized we were witnessing yet another ‘destination wedding’ photo shoot – this one a stumbling, bumbling affair as groomsmen swayed back and forth trying to get a foothold on the uneven surface. Several times they rescued the bride and her dress as they jockeyed for a position in front of the camera and out of the way of other tourists.

Ooops, almost. . .

Not quite ready for that photographer (hidden behind the bush to the left) to snap some photos. . .


No, not yet. . .enough! We couldn’t watch anymore. We continued our stroll.

As interesting as it sounds, I don’t think we could have done a destination wedding, way back when we married. How about you? Destination wedding? If so, where was it? Or where would it be?

That’s it for today from us.  We’re still busy with projects at The Stone House on the Hill and will tell you more about it and our cruise in future posts. But with June being the 'wedding month' I thought I'd share some of these wedding moments with you. Thanks for your time and welcome to all of our new followers!! Happy Travels to you.

This week if the internet gods are with us, we are linking up with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox  
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wet and Wild in Hawaii

That would be the weather to which this title refers, not Hula Babe and Beach Boy.

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Our time here began 10 days ago in a picture-postcard setting; the type for which Hawaii is known. . .

. . . Mai Tai weather . . . . with tropical breezes, blue sky and plenty of sun.  These shots were taken during an outing we took along the coast to Ka’ena Beach Park at the tip of the western side of O’ahu.

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Within a couple days of our arrival came the first ‘weather front’ – a storm strong enough to close the beaches on the island because of the dangerous high waves. A tourist was killed while golfing when a tree branch was blown down. A half dozen homes lost their roofs.

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That tropical sunshine went into hiding behind heavy dark clouds; being fickle and peeking out  for a brief ‘sunset’ one day. So this week’s photos show you O’ahu when it isn’t postcard perfect – on the other hand, when it sure is interesting:
PicMonkey Collage

Our second outing was a Sunday drive under gray skies –  the kind of skies we  have in the Pacific Northwest . We passed Aloha Stadium an hour before kickoff for the Pro Bowl – I snapped the photo above between swipes of the windshield wipers. 

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Those gentle Hawaiian tropical breezes have gusted throughout the week, sending sand and leaves flying. Grounds crews at Ko Olina, where we are,  have been kept busy cleaning up fallen leaves and blowing sand that has covered the grassy areas.
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And the sea gods really threw a hissy fit this past week, tossing enormous waves at the shore– some the largest they’ve seen in 20 - 30 years.

PicMonkey Collage

These photos were taken on the day after ‘the front’s’ arrival – yet the waves still pounded the shore with a deafening rhythm.

PicMonkey Collage

We are reminded that while you can control many things about travel, Mother Nature still calls the shots on the weather. The photo on the left was taken a week ago, the photo on the right this Tuesday. Admittedly we aren’t suffering freezing temperatures like the mid-western United States nor fighting snow in Atlanta, but we are having a rather unusual, wet and wild time in Hawaii.

Gotta run. . .the sun’s finally out and the surf is finally down. . .just sprinkles and some wind. Time to get some rays. . .Hope you’ll return here soon. . .

Linking up this week:

Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox
Travel Photo Discovery on Monday

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hawaii: Tales from the Hale. . .

Hale ~ ‘home’ in Hawaiian.

A week has passed already and we are settled in to our Hawaiian lifestyle. We went from replacing a driveway and tree trimming at our Pacific Northwest home two weeks ago, to our carefree (no home improvement projects) lifestyle in a high-rise condo where our view of the Pacific Ocean reaches the far horizon.

I’ve written several times about our timeshares – or as we think of them, 'second homes' – in Arizona and Hawaii. I've told you how we’ve extended our stays by purchasing and using  two-bedroom ‘lock-off’ units. Lock-off, as the name implies, means we lock off one side, and use each of the two sides consecutively: two weeks for the price of one!
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I’ve written about living in ‘the big house’ side before, so this time I wanted to give you a tour of our first week 'hale' at Ko Olina in ‘the lock-off’ or small side --  an over-sized  hotel room with small balcony and kitchenette.

KO2014 005I’ve jokingly called it a ‘glamping’ (glorified camping) because you need to be a bit imaginative when menu planning and shopping to stock up a tiny kitchen; although it probably is as big as many in Paris apartments. It is definitely small compared to the big side.

The week in the small side is always a good excuse, . . .ahem. . ., reason, to visit the many Happy Hours that are within an easy walk of home. 

But we also eat most of our meals in; dining on that table in our nest-like balcony. The small in-room microwave and  the communal barbeques simplify the task.

In fact, gathering at the bank of bbq’s is one of our favorite features of this lifestyle.  We’ve met  fellow owners as well as those who’ve just come for a visit -- and they come from all over the world.

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The Scout, aka Beach Boy, in the photo above is visiting with a friend from Gig Harbor and fellow Ko Olina owner while the two sip wine and cook our dinners.

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The room is 360-square-feet with the balcony adding another 18-square-feet. In reality, it’s plenty of room for two people who spend most of their waking hours outdoors at the beach, pool, gym or off exploring.

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You do need to improvise at times. . .for instance that is my beach bag, shoes and a box of papayas (from Costco!) sharing a bit of storage space.  I photographed the door because it is the link to the full-side condominium --  had we booked the whole unit for a single week it would have been open. 

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Marriott Vacation Club - KoOlina, O'ahu
Yesterday we moved into the large side -- ‘the Big House’ as we owners call them --which is home for the next three weeks. . .I am in the real den, The Scout’s in the living room, we’ve been to the gym, I’ve done laundry, and tonight we are dining at home – we’ve got a couple big steaks to grill.

Last night, a woman clad in a swimsuit, and riding the elevator as we headed back to the room with our grilled Mahi Mahi and roasted corn on the cob exclaimed, “Oh! You actually cook on vacation??!!” I almost replied, “No we are cooking  at home tonight.”

That’s it for this weekend.  I know I promised some ‘novel destinations’ but those will come soon.  We’ve had to get settled into our island lifestyle first.  Mahalo, or thanks, for visiting today. Hope you’ll be back often!

If You Go:

Ko Olina is a planned  development on O’ahu’s West (Ewa) Coast, about 20 minutes from Honolulu International Airport; the nearest city is Kapolei.

Map picture

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hula Babe and Beach Boy Head to Hawaii

Hula Babe and Beach Boy, clad in tee-shirts, shorts and flip-flops, are back in Hawaii!

sweet aloha 004

If you’ve been with us at TravelnWrite for the last few years, you know that this is our tropical season – the time we head to Hawaii -- and that’s our nom de blog while living in the Land of Aloha.  (Hey, if  Ree Drummond can be Pioneer Woman, we certainly qualify as Hula Babe and Beach Boy!)

sweet aloha 008We’ve settled into our Ko Olina timeshare ‘playhouse’ on the island of O’ahu.

It is here we will  be living during the next few weeks.

Lucky for us several friends need temporary quarters while we are here so we have a built-in cadre of house-sitters back in the Northwest.

“But how can you be gone so long?” “Don’t you get homesick?”   So many of our Pacific Northwest friends have asked that I decided yesterday to answer those questions by use of photos:

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This would be the fog-shrouded Seattle Tacoma airport Friday morning as we taxied for takeoff. . .nice view, huh? (It looked like that all over the Puget Sound.)

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It cleared a bit as we flew over the Washington State coastline.

KirkHono2014 040About five hours into the flight, as we were finishing the complimentary MaiTais  . . .

. . .the view out the window improved. . .

Honolulu was coming into view. . .

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And then came Ko Olina and O’ahu’s Barber Point as the plane banked to land at the Honolulu Airport.

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The three tall white buildings and the four lagoons to the center/left of the photo are Marriott’s Beach Club Vacation villas. I am writing this from our condo in that complex. 

This is the view looking out the window here:
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Guess that answers those questions!

While we are here, we hope to make some new island discoveries. . .have any tips for us? Out of the way restaurants? Beaches? Must see or do? Tell us about your favorites in the comment section below or by sending a quick email!

We’ll be ‘booking it’ to the beach next week so do come back to explore some ‘novel destinations'!  And mahalo for your visit today!!!
We are linking up with Noel Morata's TravelPhotoDiscovery.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Christmas in July

We meet some of the most interesting people when we travel.

Many times, it is while sitting at a bar during Happy Hour.  Like that evening in Hawaii . . .

 VegasHawaii2012 309Doug and Carla Scott, were sitting a couple bar stools away from us one evening at  Chuck’s Restaurant on the Ko Olina property on the western shores of O’ahu, Hawaii. 

While sipping our Happy Hour Mai Tai’s, I overheard Doug  tell someone they were sailing to Fiji.

Because we are heading that way ourselves this fall, I asked about the cruise line they’d be taking.

Silly me!  These people are sailing themselves to Fiji.

As is the case when strangers, who share a passion for travel meet, the conversation continued long past Happy Hour.

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Doug and Carla Scott
These two nautical vagabonds met and married in Oregon. In fact, the first time they sailed together was on the Columbia River. Then their work lives took them to landlocked Albuquerque, New Mexico for the next 18 years.

Leaving the Conventional Life Behind

Just as we decided to jump ship and leave the conventional world behind for our Mexico adventure and subsequent life of travel, you might say they jumped to a ship and left  the conventional world behind.

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They didn't shake their sailing 'bug' in the high desert and by 1988 were researching sailboats; they also had decided to sell  ‘almost everything’ and buy one.  In 2000 they found Moondance, a blue water cruiser for two, (pictured above) had her shipped to California and lived aboard her for eight years getting ready to begin the life of cruisers.

After leaving San Francisco in 2008, they spent a year and a half sailing around the Sea of Cortez and by February 2011 were in Banderas Bay on Mexico’s west coast preparing for the Puddle Jump to French Polynesia.


In April 2011 they spent 22 days sailing to the South Pacific; they spent seven months there exploring Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands, Moorea, Huahine, and Bora Bora. The photo above was taken at Tuamotus Bay.

VegasHawaii2012 159They arrived at the Ko Olina Marina in January 2012 and decided to make it home for the next year and a half. 

Our chance Mai Tai encounter happened at the end of their stay, just as they were beginning preparations to head out again for the South Pacific.

The four of us planned to continue our conversation while we were all at Ko Olina  (we were at our Marriott timeshare home) but never quite managed to get in more than a brief chat . . .usually during that popular Chuck’s Happy Hour.

But we’ve stayed in touch and are now following Doug and Carla as they are sailing to the South Pacific.

They’ve sailed 1,200 miles from Hawaii to Fanning Island and on July 4th arrived at Christmas Island, both part of the Republic of Kiribati  made up of  33 islands spread over 2,400 miles.

If their story has sparked your wanderlust, check out their blog, by clicking this link:  Following Moondance for their tales of the South Pacific.

That’s it for Travel Tuesday the day we feature either tips or tales about people and places! If it is your first visit, we hope to have you return soon. And to our many regulars – thanks so much for continuing to travel with us!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hawaii: "So what do you do there?"

hawaii 2010 024 Our island days moved as gently as tropical breezes. They also moved far too quickly.

Maybe that was why we extended our stay for just a few extra days (despite the airline change fees) . . .just to squeeze in a bit more time in our Pacific Paradise.

Several friends have asked, in somewhat incredulous tones, about our near month-long stay, "But what do you do there when you stay that long?"  .

I was reminded of yet another passage -- words to ponder -- written by my 'beach book buddy' Frances Mayes, in her book, "Every day in Tuscany":

"I'll never be over the nagging sense: I should be doing something. My friends in Cortona (Italy) don't have that particular demon. They are doing what they need to be doing by being."

Much like those Tuscans, we didn't go to Hawaii with the idea of doing we went there to experience being.  Some days we were entertained for hours watching a pattern of sunlight sprinkle its diamonds across the sea. Sometimes we'd go grocery shopping. Other days we watched stormy waves crash against the shore. Sometimes we took out the garbage. Other times the whales entertained us as they made their way past. Sometimes we did laundry. Other times we read books and napped.  A few times we'd go explore another part of the island. . . but we weren't often moved to do so.  

We spent the majority of our time on O'ahu at  Ko Olina , a development of single-family residences, an 18-hole golf course, marina, hotels, timeshares and privately owned condos on O'ahu's western Wai’anae Coast. It's a laid-back place far different from Waikiki but close enough that we could easily drive there in a half hour.

When we took the timeshare plunge five years ago by purchasing a week in Hawaii, we were not only giving ourselves a vacation destination, but we were also giving ourselves permission to 'be doing by being'.

So, Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club (top photo) has become that vacation beach home we once dreamed of -- without the cost or headaches that accompany long-distance vacation home ownership. 

It really does feel like going home now. We have staff members who remember us from our previous  stays. We have met other owners over the years and have become friends. We are lucky when our visits overlap as we have time to catch up on news over home-cooked meals.
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 We are so taken with Ko Olina that we've returned each winter, and will likely continue doing so for many years to come. Although one of the positives for us in this timeshare world is that we can trade our place, or a portion of it, for nearly anywhere else in the world we might want to go. We did that last fall when we stayed at the Marriott Vacation Club on Spain's Costa del Sol.

hawaii 2010 050 We purchased the type of two bedroom unit called a lock-off which means that we stay two weeks a year in our ocean front home: one week in the lock-off, a small efficiency sized place 360-sq. ft. (32 sq. meter)  unit with an18-sq. ft (2 sq. m) balcony.  The second week is in  the much larger sized unit (pictures in this post). It is the smaller unit we trade for accommodations in other destinations. Since our initial purchase, we've added time at Ko Olina, which lets us stay longer and trade more

 So this is our getaway and what we do there.  How about you? Where do you go when you 'do what you need to be doing by being'?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TP Thursday: Seaside Serendipity

Hula Babe and Beach Boy (our noms de blog while in Hawaii) set out Monday afternoon to visit Honu, the sea turtle we’d happened upon last year at a nearby lagoon.  We were disappointed in not finding our old friend, but totally stunned to find a new treasure: a Hawaiian Monk Seal sunning herself at the lagoon.

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What’s so amazing about our find is that there are fewer than 1,100 such wonderful creatures still alive; they are an endangered species on course to vanish in 30 – 50 years.

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She had arrived on the beach Monday morning and the volunteer keeping watch over her said she’d likely swim away that night.  A rope barrier kept curious on-lookers from disturbing her slumber.

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Sadly, the headlines have been reporting that three Hawaiian Monk Seals were killed recently; two on Molokai and one on Kauai – rewards are being offered for information leading to the criminals responsible for the deaths. The good news is that people like the volunteer are working to keep the seals safe.

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Hawaii continues to provide us a new travel treasure with each visit – this one was priceless.

It is TP Thursday so head to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos and tales from around the world. Just click these photos to make them larger.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aloha Aulani: Disney's Doing Hawaii!

koolona2010 024I bet Mickey’s wearing his Aloha shirt and Minnie's dancing the hula today. 

And, if this were a movie, it would be titled, "Disney Does Hawaii" because today is opening day at Aulani, the new Disney Resort and Spa at Ko Olina, on the island of O'ahu.

Actually Mickey, that Pint-sized Prince of Happiness, has been hanging out in Ko Olina for several months keeping watch over workers preparing for today's opening.  I snapped this photo of the little fellow last January as he sat in the resort's van.

It's been great fun the past couple of years to watch the construction progress. We only wish we could be there today to be a part of the opening celebration; it is probably one b-i-g Disney extravaganza.

Because our Marriott’s Vacation Club digs are an easy walk and just two lagoons away, we've had plenty of opportunity -- for a few weeks each winter -- to watch and speculate on the neighbor resort's progress. (And thanks to the Disney media folks we had an up-close-inside-the-construction-fence  tour during our stay last January).

Aulani's (ah-oooh-lawn-ee) two towers blend 359 traditional hotel rooms with 481 two-bedroom Disney Vacation Club suites (their timeshare program).  The photo below was taken from the walking path that links the Ko Olina lagoons.

koolona2010 012The Disney folks put their team of “Imagineers” (could there be a better job title?)  with local historians, architects and artisans to create a resort that ‘celebrates’ Hawaiian culture.  Activities and resort design and decor reflect all things Hawaiian with just a hint of Disney.

 koolona2010 026 That means that Mickey and Pals, don't have starring roles in this Disney production but they do have a subtle presence as evidenced in the photo to the left of the guest room lamp.

There is no theme park. No rides. No long lines waiting for rides.  But that doesn't mean guests won't have plenty to keep them busy. The 21-acre site features a water playground with pools, slides, a 900-foot water course and lava rocks.  Aunty’s Beach House, their Kid's Club, offers activities, stories and movies for the younger guests, and the 18,000-square-foot spa with 15 treatment rooms and exercise facility will tempt adults.

Even those of us staying down the beach will get to enjoy its two restaurants, AMA AMA  and Makahiki, and, of course, its tropical bars.

koolona2010 029 The resort's name, Aulani, traditionally means ‘a messenger of a chief’ – one who delivers a message from a higher authority. 

"We want this resort destination to reflect the vibrant culture that surrounds it," says Joe Rohde, Sr. V.P. Creative for Walt Disney Imagineering. "The name 'Aulani' expresses a connection to tradition and deep storytelling - and its roots are in this land right here. As the history and heritage of Hawai'i are the inspiration for Aulani, we are committed to using our skills in design to put guests into these stories."

As I said above, the Imagineers and designers, seem to have gone into over-drive with the subtle blend of Disney and Hawaii.  The photo below is of one of the guest room quilts made in traditional Hawaiian design. Look close.  Do you see that Pint-sized Prince of Happiness?
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If You Go:  Aulani is in Ko Olina, a development on O'ahu's Leeward Coast (the western side of the island). It's 17 miles from the Honolulu International Airport and about 30-45 minutes from Waikiki. It is about 20 minutes from some of the smaller North Shore surf towns and beaches.


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