Holiday happenings islands
by San Francisco Chronicle
Spending time in Hawaii between Thanksgiving and Christmas - as I plan to do soon - is one of the best ways to treat yourself over the holidays. Oh, you might hit some inclement weather, but the palm trees are decorated with twinkling lights, island-style carols are added to the usual slack-key soundtrack and tempting treats such as chichidango provide alternatives to the same old sugar cookie.
Those old favorites are fine with me, but some folks always like to try out something new when they return to Hawaii. If you stick around till Dec. 29, you can check out the new RumFire Lounge at the Sheraton Waikiki, which gets its name from private fire pits and what's billed as the largest selection of vintage rum in the States. A special New Year's package includes tickets to Cyndi Lauper's concert at the hotel; see www.sheratonwaikiki.com for details.
Just down the beach, the remodeled Moana Surfrider has opened a new oceanfront steakhouse, Beachhouse. Open for dinner nightly, it's headed by chef Rodney Uyehara, who's worked with Charlie Palmer, Roy Yamaguchi and local fave Chai Chaowasaree. Call (808) 921-4600 for reservations or visit beachhousewaikiki.com. Artsy types might want to check out "Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff" at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (and do a little holiday shopping at the great museum store). Ossipoff, who trained at Berkeley, was a major force in the style known as Tropical Modernism. The show runs through Jan. 27; see www.honoluluacademy.org for details.
On Maui, those with money (or friends and family with money) can check into the new Ho'olei at the Grand Wailea Resort, luxury three-bedroom, three-bath townhomes with access to the resort's famed pool and spa, and the Wailea Golf Club. Rates start at $1,000 a night; see www.hooleiatgrandwailea.com.
In Ka'anapali, Marriott's Maui Ocean Club has opened its new two- and three-bedroom upscale time-share development, the 77-unit Lahaina Villas. If you want to know how much they cost, trust me - they'll be happy to explain after a 90-minute tour. Rentals of the two-bedroom, two-bath units start at $664 a night at www.marriott.com.
It's a lot cheaper to luxuriate in the laid-back musical stylings of two Maui "boys," Eric Gilliom and Willie K., also known as the Barefoot Natives. They're playing Christmas shows at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Saturday and on the Big Island at the Kahilu Theatre on Dec. 21; see www.barefootnatives.com for details. (Eric's sister Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom is on a West Coast holiday concert tour, see "Local style" for information on her Watsonville show.)
On Kauai, the big news is the new Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa at the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort. The first Aveda-branded resort spa in Hawaii, it offers special Kauai-themed treatments and a pregnancy massage, among others. See www.kauaispasalon.com for details.
Massage devotees will be inspired by a new coffee-table book, "Hawaiian Massage: Lomilomi - Sacred Touch of Aloha," with thoughtful text by R. Makana Risser Chai and evocative photos by John C. Kalani Zak ($29.95 at www.lomilomibook.com). The 36 traditional practitioners depicted include Allen Alapa'i of Hanalei ( www.allenalapai.com), whose ho'oponopono lomilomi is designed to release negative energy.
On the Big Island, there are two new ways to float your boat. On the Kohala Coast, Kona Village ( www.konavillage.com) has a new 27-foot rigid inflatable with seating for 20-plus guests, special lights for nighttime snorkeling with manta rays and fresh showers. The 55-foot catamaran Hula Kai, which sails out of Keauhou Bay, will become an adult-only snorkel and dive boat beginning Jan. 1; kids will still be able to sail on the family-friendly Fair Wind II; see www.fair-wind.com for details.
But since not everyone can journey to Hawaii over the holidays (and let's face it, the locals would get Grinchy if we all showed up at once), there are some ways to celebrate here.
-- Take in the final performance of Mahealani Uchiyama's "A Walk by the Sea," in celebration of her 50th birthday. The head of the Center for International Dance in Berkeley and special guests will present the evening of music, dance and stories on Saturday at Holy Names University in Oakland; see "Local style" for details. If you miss the show, don't worry - you can still buy the CD from her Web site, www.mahea.com.
-- Pick up the new Keali'i Reichel concert DVD, "Kukahi: Live in Concert," available locally at Aloha Warehouse in Japantown (1731 Buchanan St.). It's a great substitute if you can't catch him with Na Leo and Willie K. from Dec. 19-20 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village or at his 12th annual hula-filled "Kukahi" show Feb. 15-16 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. For details, see