Story by Becky Speere
I live in a rainforest, so a staycation at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea, on Maui’s sunny south shore, is akin to a trip to a faraway destination, except it’s only an hour’s drive from home. And what better way for a foodie to celebrate her sixtieth birthday? I arrive at the hotel with my husband, Chris, eager to experience twenty-four hours of luxe dining. Luckily, we are able to check in early, not an easy feat at the busiest Four Seasons property on the planet. As I gaze from the balcony of our room over the central courtyard, I recall the autograph tree I relaxed beneath on the dunes of Wailea Beach thirty years ago, before the hotel opened in 1990. I sigh, remembering how warm the sun felt as I lay there, eyes closed, breathing in the salt air.
Chris rouses me out of my reverie with the magic words “Let’s go get a little breakfast.” It’s 9 a.m. and I feel a lightness as we follow the sunlit halls. Settees and armchairs invite a moment’s respite, and I revel in the floral artistry, tropical gardens and simple but elegant decor.
Descending the curving staircase, we arrive at Duo, an ‘Aipono Award-winning, open-air restaurant with a double personality: à la carte breakfast and buffet service in the morning, and casual fine dining at night. A sprawling restaurant, Duo overlooks the formal swimming pool with its splashing fountains, and surf-swept Wailea Beach.
As we settle at our table, I remember that today is Friday, which means tonight is Market Night, when Duo transforms into a Brazilian churrascaria, with barbecue on the menu. Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst has promised a fun and appetite-quelling experience. With this in mind, Chris and I decide on a vegetarian breakfast from the Wellness Your Way menu—created by the chef in collaboration with on-site nutritionist Dr. Mark Emerson. Chris orders the tofu scramble with corn tortillas, and I choose the savory chickpea pancake with avocado, cherry tomatoes and almond-pepper cream. With his first bite, Chris says, “If I didn’t know it was tofu, I’d swear it was scrambled eggs.” The combination of spices and nutritional yeast was fooling the biggest carnivore! I cut into my tender pancake and dip the slice into the drizzle of creamy sauce. Protein rich and filling, the savory dish is delicious and satisfies my dietary preference: Blue Zone Mediterranean. We share a tall glass of Sophia’s Green Juice. Fresh from the juice bar, this blend of apples, celery, lemon, ginger, kale, spinach and probiotic kombucha percolates antioxidants through our bodies and energizes us for a morning of relaxation and frolicking in the pool.
Five hours later, our tummies rumbling, we head to the Four Seasons’ Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante. Word is out on the island that the new chef de cuisine, Justin Purpura, is creating classic Italian dishes with a twist. We don beach cover-ups and prepare to enjoy a small bite that will hold us over until dinner. I order a glass of strawberry lemonade; Chris opts for Ahui Pua, a lively cocktail made with Jameson Irish whiskey, elderflower, and mango. Self-control is no match for our appetites’ demands. We dive into San Daniele prosciutto and melon with burrata cheese, the ribbons of prosciutto and melon perfectly juxtaposed in a marriage of sweet and salty; house-made angel-hair pasta with green garbanzo beans gilded with chunks of sweet lobster, and a dollop of house-made Meyer lemon ricotta dotted with fresh basil pesto. Fresh ‘ahi poke tops flatbread that arrives hot and toasty from the wood-burning oven, its soy, sesame, kim chee aioli and spicy jalapeños bursting with umami. We relish every bite as we share a glass of New York-produced, 2014 Hermann Riesling, whose minerality, citrus, and crispness enhance both our meal and the expansive view of the Pacific Ocean. Sated, we trundle back to our room to relax . . . and call Duo to postpone our dinner reservations until 8 p.m.