Maui. Sunshine. Adventure.

What’s not to like?

After all, the beaches and sites on the Hawaiian Islands’ next-to-youngest entity (The Big Island) are a plenty that many writers have been spotlighting them in books and magazines for quite some time. The much-talked about road to Hana, Haleakala Crater (at sunrise and sunset especially), the old historic towns, waterfalls, sea turtles–well, you get the picture.

It’s impossible to be bored on Maui and She continually surprises.

However for travelers out there who, like me, appreciate some serendipity and soul-stirring experiences mixed into their vacations, getaways and retreats, chances are that Lumeria Maui will hit the top of that must-experience list.

This indelible piece of paradise certainly captured my attention and after researching more about it, I was struck by how well its owners and management team have created what appears to be one of the most attractive, innovative, forward-thinking properties in the Pacific–a destination with the smarts to incorporate the finest balance of retreat atmosphere, attention to well-being, nutrition, fresh garden-to-table culinary savvy and a refreshing friendliness from its staff.

I stumbled upon Lumeria quite by accident, actually. I had no intention of writing about anything travel-related. After all, I reasoned, I had left The Mainland in late June to partake in a major life reboot on a colleague’s olive orchard in Kula. This, after finishing a book on my Polish family’s odyssey surviving Stalin–I was in no mood to write or report on much of anything. However, a few days into my time on Maui, I spotted the sign for Lumeria while driving from the coastal town of Paia toward the historic town of Makawao (a must-see ranch/cowboy enclave.) Intrigued by the name and its location–in the glorious foothills of northern Maui’s bucolic upcountry–I pulled inside, parked and began a memorable excursion, which, really, would last weeks. (You never know where The Universe is going to take you …)

The grounds here are instantly impressive–pristine and tropical, and somewhat otherworldly. Think “Maui Plantation Meets Well-being Retreat.”

Numerous, large, stunning ornate crystals are situated throughout the property and in various community rooms. A dramatic square-shaped sunken lawn beckons everyone’s attention–its main focal point is a significant statue of a Buddha on its outer, central edge. Plantation-type housing surrounds the lawn.

Lumeria had me at that Buddha statue, but upon further exploration, I discovered a sparkling pool, a yoga landing behind Buddha, a grove of whispering pines and bamboos, complete with hammocks overlooking stunning ocean views, and a remarkable, large labyrinth, created with lava rocks from the island. Upon sight of that, I dropped everything I was carrying onto the lawn and, holding an intention, began walking the labyrinth. I had embarked on labyrinth walks back in San Francisco, mainly at Grace Cathedral. But here, this dramatic creation became an ideal place for reflection.

This, I realized, is Lumeria Maui’s intention–to invite its guests to unplug from the so-called “real world,” spend some time decompressing, and perhaps get to know oneself in a new way.


Later, in Lumeria’s dining room, I ordered a Lavender Latte, which is made with lavender grown on the island. I sat there on the lanai, sipping away, and after soaking up the surroundings for another hour, I decided to investigate further.

I noted that Lumeria Maui has been referred to as both an “educational retreat” and a “sanctuary for authentic transformational travel,” however, I wanted to go back in time–to 1909, when the original property was built. Designed by renowned Honolulu architect H.R. Kerr, long ago, the property belonged to Fred C. Baldwin–The Baldwin Family were sugar cane titans here. In addition to plantation housing for retired workers, the property and its buildings also served as military housing during World War II, dormitory housing for a women’s college in the 1950s and 1960s, and a dorm for pineapple workers.

Enter renowned designer and bestselling author Xorin Balbes, who penned “SoulSpace: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life.” Balbes eventually took notice of the property and sprinkled in some of his own magic onto the grounds. In fact, several years ago, Balbes conducted a process of cleansing and honoring the indigenous trees and plants on the land. Ceremonies were held to honor of the land’s ancestors, and Balbes even went as far as consulting local Kahunas about where to place crystals, various trees, and other native plants on the property. Eight large crystals were buried in a grid underground as construction ensued. The crystals were positioned in prime spots, under the guidance of Kahunas, who held one central purpose: to continuously clear the energy of the land and anchor the healing and loving energetically of the crystals in/on the property.

A powerful intention indeed.

Meanwhile, Balbes garnered a 2012 Preservation Award from the Hawaii Historic Foundation. Today, the property, which underwent its vibrant new ownership last year, is listed in The National Registry of Historic Places and is one of the largest historic renovations on Maui

So, these were the grounds on which I had entered.

The accommodations appeared to be dynamite: rooms with ocean, mountain, island, or tropical garden views, or a combination of all of them; and several suites. All of these sport lovely Indonesian design themes with creative touches–Japanese-designed bathrooms and Italian linens for instance. Outside of each room is a spacious porch (or lanai) with comfortable lounges and chairs.

Over the course of several more weeks, whenever I visited Lumeria on numerous occasions–some places pull you in, I suppose. I indulged in lattes or a garden-fresh meal. I discovered there are guest speaker programs, horticulture programs, yoga, and aromatherapy classes and many other offerings–from retreats (yoga, couples, meditation, spiritual weekends, sports)–to a recent Full Moon Yoga outing, which was open to locals and guests. That particularly event was chased back with an enriching garden-to-crate dinner afterward.

In fact, the meals here are something to marvel–a vast majority of the food comes from the property’s own garden, whose unique design falls under the category of sacred geometry. Since arriving on Maui, I have attended two garden-to-crate dinners that were open to both guests and the public, as well as a “normal” meal. Farm fresh with a stunning appreciation for local agriculture–kale, greens, tempeh, broccoli, coconuts, papaya and the like–as well as fresh grains (quoina) and fresh fish–the culinary genius of chef Ben Diamond stands out here considerably.

Wellness therapies abound at Lumeria Maui. When I noticed that among its vast array of spa treatments, there was one called a Chocolate Indulgence massage, I immediately made an appointment. Five days later I was lying in a cabana near the garden arena while Jenny, a gifted practitioner, covered me in something truly lickable–organic cold-pressed coconut oil infused with Cacao Absolute (the base for the massage.) Imagine it–I could have had myself for dessert.

At various points throughout the session Jenny introduced aromatherapy, specially designed for each individual client. In my case: Hawaiian floral aromas of Hibiscus, Pikake, Maui Rose, and Tuberose from Aloha Therapy on the Big Island. The treatment also included a take-home ZenZiva chocolate body scrub and an organic raw chocolate treat made by a local.

Also of interest: Lumeria’s numerous soul-evoking offerings. The Way of the Shaman, for instance, is a guided meditation by a reputable shaman. Another is Soul Journeys, which is a one-on-one treatment with the intent of illumination–uncovering blocks, gaining clarity. A Crystal Healing and Mystic Reading is yet another lush offering with a reputable channeler and crystal expert. And there is so much more still.

You do not necessarily need to stay at Lumeria Maui to enjoy its spa treatments (from facials and acupuncture to colon hydrotherapy!). In fact, the property owners are encouraging locals and island visitors to experience Lumeria and its locally based programs–from Hawaiian heritage and movement to ecology and new thought classes. There’s a nice push here to include the local community and at times, especially those memorable garden-to-crate dinners, the conversations around the table can be downright inspiring because you have such a broad mix of individuals meeting at curious points in time in their own lives. All this hearkens back to community and connection, something we all may be, ironically, lacking in a high-tech, media-frenzied culture that insists it is connecting us more fluidly with each other.

There’s a great deal more to share about this luminous vortex, however after spending several outings at Lumeria, I am struck by something: In an era where we all may need to decompress and appreciate the deeper value of life, living and connection–and to perhaps re-imagine the direction of our lives (sometimes the entire direction)–Lumeria Maui stands out for its inventive if not soulful approach to catering to the body, mind and spirit. It appears to offer its guests not only rest and renewal, but also the tools they can use to go back out into the world, refreshed and perhaps reinvented.

This could very well be one of the best finds in recent years. It is certainly a place worthy of attention.

Learn more here.

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