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I’m buzzing around Travaasa Hana, Maui in a golf cart driven by Hubert Aaron Jr., the resort’s sales and events manager. He’s taking me to one of the property’s first renovated Ocean Bungalows, all of which will be updated by the end of 2015. The $12 million project also covers the revamp of Travaasa’s 23 low-rise Garden Suites.
The 47 bungalows, formerly known as Sea Ranch Cottages, have long been one of my favorite places to stay. Modeled on plantation-style dwellings — which were common in Hawaii in the early 20th century — they feature high, wood-beamed ceilings, interior ceiling fans and private lanais.
But ever since the bungalows first opened in 1989, their dramatic setting on a grassy seaside bluff has left them exposed to the elements. A full makeover was in order.
Today, the renovated bungalow that I’m touring features a handsome new lanai built with all-natural, durable hardwood. While it no longer comes with a private outdoor jacuzzi, the lanai does sport attractive and comfy chaise lounges. New panoramic sliding glass doors maximize the flow of the trade winds, keeping the bungalow naturally cool without air conditioning.
Inside, Aaron explains that the goal of the renovation is to present a simpler decor in each bungalow. Setting the tone is Hunton Conrad, a Maui-based interior designer.
“We’ve gotten rid of bulky furniture in order to provide more access to the view, which is what bungalow guests come here for,” Aaron said. “We want to present a clean and sophisticated tropical palette.”
The furnishings are made from recycled coconut shells and bamboo from Maui, and the artwork is inspired by the lifestyle and heritage of Hana, a rural east Maui region steeped in Hawaiiana.
Bungalow beds are new, as are all of the soft goods. Bathrooms feature new tubs, mirrors, vanities and eco-friendly accessories. I’m happy to report that all of Travaasa’s guestrooms continue to be free of radios, clocks and televisions so that guests can focus on the beauty of their surroundings.
While the bungalows were previously adults-only, the property recently reversed that policy and made the rooms available to clients of all ages.
“We want families to feel welcome throughout the resort,” Aaron said.
In addition, when the renovation wraps up, Travaasa will reinstate its general manager’s weekly reception — an activity popular with clients who want to mingle with the staff and get to know other guests.
Originally opened in 1946 as Hotel Hana-Maui, the resort joined the Travaasa portfolio in 2011. The brand focuses on experiential properties that incorporate local elements into their activities, dining and wellness offerings. At Travaasa Hana, the design of the renovated guestrooms clearly reflects the company’s commitment to the natural and cultural riches of Hana.