Been thinking about getting away to a tropical place with girlfriends? Maui should be on your bucket list! Darling, in partnership with Alaska Airlines, recently hosted a retreat on this island with 20 women from around the country. We kicked it off on our Alaska flight with a Hawaiian mimosa (mixed passionfruit-orange-guava juice and prosecco) then settled into our seats eager to rest and reset. From the moment we stepped off the plane, we realized why Maui has been considered the best place to visit in the United States, and has been voted “Best Island in the World” 16 times by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine. As far as our itinerary, well, let’s just say it’s one you’ll want to copy on your first (or next!) trip to Maui.
A few fun facts before we recap…
1. Maui doesn’t have snakes! Phew…
2. There are 30 miles of white, red, and black sand beaches with incredible snorkeling and whale watching.
3. Best of all? The locals greet with a hug, not a handshake.
Upon arrival to our lodging at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, fresh floral lei were placed around our necks, adding to the general sweet freshness of the island air. Sometimes when you arrive at a fancy hotel, you expect pretentiousness, but our experience was the opposite, due to the heart of their company philosophy. Four Seasons believes in recognizing a familiar face and welcoming a new one—knowing that life is richer when we truly connect to the people and the world around us. In the words of their Founder and Chairman, Isadore Sharp: “We demonstrate our beliefs most meaningfully in the way we treat each other and by the example we set for one another. In all our interactions with our guests, customers, business associates and colleagues, we seek to deal with others as we would have them deal with us.”
We were giddy as we walked around the grounds, getting a tour of the many pool options—including an adult-only infinity pool (with underwater music!), multiple top-tier restaurants, a Plumeria garden and unbelievably beautiful, vast beach.
After Kara Dykert, whom we affectionately called our “retreat mom” (A.K.A. planner), ran over the itinerary with us, we checked into our rooms and figured out quickly why the Four Season’s Maui beds are voted some of the best in the world—not to mention the balconies and epic ocean views. We dug into our gift bags (scroll down to the end to see all the epic goodies!) and threw on our swimsuits and headed to the private beach for a swim and reading session in the sand.
Opening “Darling Dinner”
Around 5:30, we happened upon the most breathtaking sunset we’d ever seen, framed by a dinner party on the Oceanfront Lawn that only existed in our dreams!
With multiple courses of traditional Hawaiian poke, barbeque chicken and mahi-mahi, we sat for hours talking through the table questions presented by Darling and Alaska, the most thought-provoking one being:
How do we take home the rest, relaxation and mental peace we experience when we travel?
Sunrise Outrigger Canoe Adventure and Morning Workshop
The next morning, some of us chose the sunrise outrigger canoe adventure and others engaged in yoga, but all of us joined in for a luxury breakfast and intention setting workshop with Darling Founder, Sarah Dubbeldam, where we learned “practices of life” to maintain balance and mental health.
Sushi Making Workshop
After a few hours of relaxing we headed to a sushi making workshop with Four Season’s Maui chef, Kela Kalehuawehe. After learning the art of cut and hand rolls and how they pair well with Sake, we were inspired to take this practice back home!
Then came the first adventure: Snuba with Maui-Molokai Sea Cruises. We boarded the 50ft. “Leilani” boat and ventured on the lower and outer decks as we cruised with refreshing cocktails in hand to the island of Molokini. We were blessed with what Captain John said was “the best weather and stillest waters they’ve ever seen,” which made many of us keen to learn the instructions for how to Snuba. Once we anchored at the beautiful moon shaped tiny island, we activated our gear and with the kind instructors, dove down up to 20 feet to see the gorgeous array of fish and colorful coral.
“Darling Dinner” #2
After cruising to shore during the most epic sunset, we wrapped up the night with another Darling dinner at the famous Mill House. This spot was our choice because of their commitment to working with Maui’s local ranchers and farmers, using seasonally grown organic produce, fruits and proteins to create one-of-a-kind artisan dishes. We had the most fantastic white and red wine pairings from their sommelier along with a multiple-course meal. Our favorite table question this night?
How have you positively impacted another woman in your life lately?
Scrapbooking Workshop with Amy Tan
Our last day we woke up sad to leave soon, but encouraged by a morning scrapbooking workshop with Amy Tan. We doodled in journals, wrote down encouraging life mottos and worked with paints and paper with Amy’s book, “Craft a Life You Love: Infusing Creativity, Fun, and Intention Into Your Everyday” as a guide.
‘Iao Valley Jungle Experience
The Maui Visitors Bureau was our best friend for transformation—taking us around the island for all our various activities with friendly drivers in a nice, comfortable and air-conditioned van. We were able to all be together and have the best conversations as we travelled to our next adventure, a jungle hike and traditional cultural experience with two local women.
We started at the head of the ‘Iao Valley State Park and meandered down to meet Tamika and Lesley, founders of Aloha Missions, a company that positively inspires visitors to create a better Maui—respecting Hawaii’s natural resources and local community. Of course, they greeted us with a hug and placed flowers behind our ears. To begin, Kainoa Horcajo gave us a history of the ‘Iao Valley and Hawaiian philosophy—educating us about the history of the island and the way the nature elements represent the nature of the feminine mystique. After we did jungle portraits with Michelle from Paper Antler, we took a bold step and jumped in the cold, natural river that flows through the valley for an Aloha Missions “cleansing” tradition. We used the most incredible chocolate scrub made locally by Zenziva, metaphorically scrubbing away the “old”, rinsing and making room for the “new” things to come. It was a beautiful moment to pause, reflect and gain some “Aloha Spirit” from these beautiful women.
“Darling Dinner” #3
On our last night, Four Seasons Maui Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst and Feast Hawaii partnered to make the most incredible dinner on the sand experience—with beautiful menus by local artist Susanna Cromwell, floral arrangements by Wildheart Flowers, pillows and blankets by Vintage Kantha and grazing boards by Graze Hawaii. Amanda Robson of Feast Hawaii started our evening by teaching us how to make lei po’o/ flower crowns with locally-grown flowers. We feasted and reflected on our favorite moments from the retreat, ending the evening with a time of affirmation for one another:
Tell the woman that you came with what you admire about her character and inner beauty.
Alaska Airlines carried us home, full of life, refreshed and ready for a new year with the beauty of the island engraved on our hearts.
Alaska Airlines flies more nonstop flights to Hawaii from the West Coast than any other airline. Book low fares and good vibes HERE.
All photos by Paper Antler. Underwater images by Ingrid Barrentine. Image of Chef Kela Kalehuawehe provided by Four Seasons Maui.
Want a sneak peak inside our gift bags?
We are so thankful for each of these beautiful companies who participated below.
This suit was one of our favs! Summersalt is an amazing company because they design for fashion and function. Their suits are designer quality at the best price and they use recycled materials to create fabrics and product packaging. Also, they are great for packing because they are crafted to wrinkle less and dry quickly, keeping you comfortable on the move. Fun very “Darling-aligned” fact: They took over 1.5 million body measurements from 10,000 women to inform the Summersalt fit. Now that’s admirable!
Leaves of Trees
These products are amazing! With a masters in chemical engineering and a passion for high-quality, natural, and fair trade products, founder of Leaves of Trees, Dr. Roohi Qureshi, set out to fuse good science with thoughtful design and ethical practice. Many of the ingredients used in their products are sourced directly from producers in Morocco—the country that inspired Qureshi’s development of the brand after her first visit. Among these sources is a women’s cooperative that Leaves of Trees supports by exclusive use of their hand-pressed organic Argan oil. Leaves of Trees also never tests products on animals, and are committed to remaining 100% cruelty- free!
This is the perfect lightweight, machine-washable throw blanket that’s equally great at home on the sand, the grass, or wrapped around you on a flight. It’s machine-washable, 100% long-staple cotton, woven in Portugal with a unique texture that’s irresistible to the touch (and washer/dryer safe).
This amazing portable aromatherapy set is perfect for traveling! ESYM uses 100% natural essential oils and carefully arranges them in ways that elicit known benefits while ensuring a pleasant scent aesthetic.
We chose Krewe sunglasses for a number of reasons! First, because they are independently owned and operated and built their brand from the ground up and offer customer-centric programs. Second, their designs are so gorgeous with the lightest and well-fitting frames you’ve ever tried!
There is nothing better than going to bed with clean feet. These wipes are phenomenal! With a texture that replicates a scrubbing effect, they effectively remove dirt and bacteria from the feet. EMBR also uses essential oils instead of harsh chemicals to show that their care about health and the environment. Best of all? They believe wipes are an answer to not having access to improved sanitation, so they are currently giving wipes to select impoverished countries and cities with a goal to expand giving globally.
Skin Owl has a gorgeous selection of 100% vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and ethoxylation free products. Also, 95% of their packaging materials are recycled, from their glass bottles to packing peanuts!
Honestly, these are the BEST bars out there. They give you so much energy and taste amazing because in each bite there’s whole food protein and 20 superfoods!
May Designs is a lifestyle brand that specializes in creating products that can be personalized, from notebooks to tumblers, and their site guides you down a little online trail of magic to create something completely unique that reflects your personality. The Austin based company has been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show and was named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things!
While there are a number of sunscreens on the market that claim to be ‘natural’ or ‘safe’ for watery ecosystems, most fail to live up to their promises. All Good Sunscreen is actually reef-safe and provides SPF 30 UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection for up to 80 minutes in the water! With sport and kids’ products, they are all non-greasy and have amazing ingredients such as organic green tea, chamomile, rose hips and buriti oil for soothing and repairing damaged skin.
This Pocket Pharmacy Kit is absolutely perfect for travel. Saje believes connecting people with the power of plants through their 100% natural products. These oils are suited for five different ailments and truly work wonders!
Did you know that in the United States alone, over 500 million disposable plastic straws are used and thrown away every year? We care about the fact that traditional plastic straws are one-time-use, and cannot be recycled, so they wind up in landfills and our oceans as little micro-particles. These glass straws are not only pretty, but are directly impacting this environmental problem! You can wash and reuse them, and you won’t be contributing to the waste.
You need this creamy shea butter lotion in your purse! Made from Shea butter, all natural oils, and essential oils, it restores even the driest of skin. White flowers, light moss, and white thyme blend with robust bamboo leaves, enveloping the room with a clean and earthy scent.
This Atmosphere Protection Cream is incredible. If you haven’t tried Osea, you need to get their whole line. They believe that non-toxic skincare is vital for long-term health, beauty, and radiance, which is why their products are powered by plant-based ingredients so effective they eliminate the need for harmful synthetic ingredients entirely.
Aerie, as you know, is one of Darling’s consistent favorites. They have the best activewear that’s on-trend at a great price. Our favorite part? They join us in a no-retouching policy with their models and are an overall inclusive, optimistic and empowering company that’s shifting culture and advertising for the better.
These bags are a must for your collection. ABLE is a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women. They are a one-stop shop for ethical fashion, offering leather goods, handmade jewelry, denim, clothing and footwear. Whether your purchase is produced in Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru, or at their headquarters in Nashville, TN, each item has one thing in common: because it is made by women, it is leading all of us a step closer to the end of generational poverty.
These gorgeously designed products are formulated using certified organic ingredients from nature for maximum purity and potency. Primally Pure consults with leading experts in the beauty and wellness industries to create truly safe skincare products that also offer real, recognizable results. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make the switch to this natural deodorant!
P.F. Candle Co.
P.F. Candle Co. is a Los Angeles-based fragrance company owned and operated by wife-and-husband team Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger. Their line is meant to make life smell better through candles, reed diffusers, room sprays, incense, and eau de parfum. We promise these are some of the most fragrant and effective candles on the market for making your entire space smell amazing!
Ahhh, please take me to Maui now! How I wish! Making note of all the places you mentioned! 🙂
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog