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I Had Drinks With Bruno Mars On The Ultimate Soft Life Adventure In Hawaii Leave a comment


SelvaRey Rum

The words “soft life” and “adventure” may not automatically go together in your mind, but when you’re traveling to a lush island like Kona that’s ripe for excursions by land, air and sea, it’s nearly impossible not to mix a few exhilarating activities into your relaxing itinerary while vacationing in Hawaii. Besides, the soft life is really about giving yourself permission to do what brings you joy, and if hiking, helicopter rides, and hula dancing speak to the adventurer in you, then I’d suggest a stay at the Fairmont Orchid, which just opened a new pop-up Rum Bar with exceptionally delicious cocktails inspired by Honolulu native and SelvaRey owner Bruno Mars.

I was lucky enough to get to try them out with the singer who told us enthusiastically when he touched down for our sneak peek press preview at the resort, “The opening of a SelvaRey Rum bar on the beach in Hawaii? I wouldn’t miss that for the world!”

Upon landing at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole, you’ll immediately know you’re in for an experience unlike any you’ve ever had as the facility is completely outdoors. After what for many will be a long journey to the island, the open space and fresh air will be a refreshing welcome. As you leave the airport, you’ll also notice the streets are lined with mounds of black and reddish-brown lava rocks that give way to picturesque green flatlands as you approach the entryway to the Fairmont Orchid. It sits on 32 acres of land leading directly to a white sand beach and crystal blue waters. Don’t be surprised if you gasp as you walk into the property to check in and your gaze sets on the picturesque image of the ocean just a few feet away from you beyond the open terrace.

I Had Drinks With Bruno Mars On The Ultimate Soft Life Adventure In Hawaii
Fairmont Orchid

You have your choice of an ocean or tropical garden view when it comes to the guest rooms and suites at the property, which all feature a private lanais. Fairmont Gold rooms also give you the added benefit of a private concierge floor with a lounge that offers complimentary breakfast and non-alcoholic beverages, an honor bar, fruit and dry snacks, and sunset canapés. A bottle of brut champagne upon arrival, complimentary valet parking and enhanced nightly turndown service make the upgrade well worth it.

The resort has six restaurants, my favorite being Hale Kai because of every single item on the menu — no, seriously — and the fact that the sandy beachside locale provides the perfect ambiance whether you’re grabbing lunch after a dip in the pool or hoping to catch the beautiful sunset during dinner. From there, a quick walk over to the Fairmont Orchid’s private Pauoa Bay will put you at the SelvaRey Rum Bar where you have your choice of nightcap, from a Weekend at Bruno’s, an Uptown Punch, or Hollywood Colada to The Cold Brewno and classic Mojito Royale, all made with SelvaRey’s award-winning rums.

“We had fun with the names of the drinks, but the goal was to make elevated versions of the best cocktails to enjoy at the beach,” Mars tells ESSENCE. “SelvaRey is all about tropical luxury. The Fairmont Orchid has that same feeling. The bar is a way for us to offer people the full SelvaRey experience.”

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Daylight and drinks may be all you need to make your time away from the daily grind complete, and if that’s the case, believe me, I’m not judging. But if you want to get the full Kona experience, check out these options for exploring the island and the culture of the people within it.

By Land

I’m a big fan of staying at resorts where I don’t have to leave the property unless I want to, and leaving Fairmont Orchid to explore beyond its walls is truly a matter of preference as you’ll find everything from a 10-court tennis pavilion and world-class golf to a fitness center and gift shops within steps of your hotel room. I might be biased, but I consider Spa Without Walls a must, because how often will you get a chance to have a therapeutic massage or stress-relieving facial right in the middle of nature? Whether you choose to have your treatment in one of the outdoor waterfall hales (huts) or oceanfront cabanas, the sights and sounds around you will put your mind and body at ease.

An evening at a Hawaiiloa Luau on the property will broaden your understanding of Polynesian culture and its traditions, including the hula dance, which you’ll learn isn’t simply a form of entertainment but also a means of passing along stories from generation to generation. A hula class will also deepen your appreciation for the dancers’ stamina and most likely your own knees – consider yourself warned.

Hawaii is as known for hiking as it is its beaches, and you’ll have a variety of trails of varying degrees of difficulty to tackle in Kona. Just make sure you bring a walking stick, sunscreen, bug spray, and a bikini. You just might encounter a once-in-a-lifetime chance to swim in a waterfall along the route.

By Sea

If water activities float your boat (pun intended), there’s no shortage of options on the Fairmont Orchid property, where you can enjoy paddle boarding, canoeing, snorkeling, fishing and surfing for all levels. A Fun & Sun Pass grants you access to water equipment in one-hour rental increments if you want to make a day of your aquatic adventures. If you prefer to keep it cute oceanside, opt for a picnic on the beach or a Beach Walk Daybed, which includes local snacks and refreshments throughout the day as you soak in the sun.

Few travelers can venture to tropical locations without the sounds of a catamaran calling, and if you’re one of them, I recommend a sunset cruise where you can sip, swim, and have a front-row seat to the sun as it disappears beyond the clouds.

By Air

If you think the island can’t get more beautiful from land and sea, wait until you see it from the sky. A voyage on Blue Hawaiian Helicopters will take you over the cliffs of Waipi’o and through the valleys of the Kohala mountains where you’ll experience some of the most scenic views possible. From thousands of feet in the air, you’ll soar over rainforests, waterfalls and even remnants from ancient inhabitants. Thrill seekers can also choose to fly over two open craters of the Kilauea volcano. If a helicopter ride is on your bucket list, there’s no better place to do it than here, and you can choose a tour as short as 45 minutes or make it a full-day excursion.

No matter how you choose to explore Kona, you can’t go wrong. But as you consider making a trip to the big island your next vacation, I leave you with this advice from Mars: “Hawaii has a lot to offer – food, entertainment, nature – but the beaches are my favorite, so I’d spend as much time there as possible.”


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