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Going up at the Grand Wailea Water Elevator

The world’s first water elevator is part of the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort on Maui. You’ll find an inconspicuous metal door between the Lava and Puka water slide exits. Once the elevator is at the bottom of the shaft, a pool attendant opens the sealed door so you can swim or walk to your seat on a large round ring. A gate valve is opened by a second pool attendant releasing thousands of gallons of water to form a giant waterfall. The ring can spin slowly around as it rises thus allowing everyone a chance to get soaked by the waterfall. Once at the top of the elevator, a gate is opened so that you can exit into another small pool. You’ll have three choices. You can ride down a long slide or a short one or you can just take the steps out and walk out the pool. The view from the top of the water elevator is stunning, but you’ll probably be too busy having fun in the nine separate pools, seven water slides, lazy river or Tarzan rope swing to notice.

Copyright 2014 June Harper - Water Elevator at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria

Copyright 2014 June Harper – Water Elevator at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort

Family Vacation at the Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort

One week in October last year we stayed at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort as part of an “Instagram Takeover.” I had the pleasure of documenting our stay by posting photos on Grand Wailea’s Instagram account.

The Grand Wailea is no ordinary resort. The phenomenal Maui resort is known for the largest spa in the state of Hawaii, the lush 40 acres fronting the beautiful Wailea Beach, the extensive art collection prominently featured throughout the property and more. These are all fantastic examples of what makes the Grand Wailea so extraordinary, but these aren’t the reason I find this property magical. The main reason my heart beats faster when I think of the Grand is because it is where I met and fell in love with my husband.

I will share the story of how Jon and I met, but I will save it for another day. This post is about our incredible weeklong stay with our two boys. Although Maui is a major destination for couples, families are treated like royalty at the Grand Wailea. The Wailea Canyon Activity Pool is a 2,000-foot-long liquid oasis with nine pools on six separate levels connected by watersides, rapids and the world’s first water elevator. The ROCK is a 20,000 square foot newly renovated mini-resort for children up to teens. There are no excuses to sneak away for some quality time when the boys are well taken care of by the awesome staff at the ROCK.

Our experience at the Grand Wailea was unforgettable. Our suite in the exclusive Napua Tower served as a luxurious “home away from home,” except that it was way fancier then any home I’ve lived resided. For example, the master bathroom is roughly the size of my bedroom at home. There is a complimentary breakfast served in a lounge that only Napua Tower guests are privy to and if you serve me anything I am forever grateful. There is just something about being a full-time private chef to two boys and husband that makes me appreciate any meal that I didn’t have to plan, shop and prepare in order to enjoy. Cocktails and pupus (appetizers) are served every day in the Napua Tower lounge and these are also included as a guest of the exclusive tower. We most definitely took advantage of this amenity.

Speaking of amenities, the boys were surprised with a cookie decorating amenity where butter cookies cut into a palm tree, turtle and fish were presented on a cute surfboard cutting board. Tubes of frosting and chocolate cups (yes, cups made out of chocolate!) filled with toppings gave the boys a fun activity to do after a long day at the pools. The pools. The pools. They deserve their own post, so stay tuned and I will share fun photos I captured while we frolicked in the fantastic pools at the Grand Wailea.


June Harper Copyright 2014 – Grand Wailea Cookie Decorating Amenity


The Model Railway Village in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland

I remember driving past the model train village when Jon and I were newly married. I wanted to stop the car but Jon, a local from Bandon, wasn’t interested in model villages featuring his hometown. So, we drove on to another destination during a lazy day driving around Ireland. Fast forward 9 years and the birth of two boys, I made sure we paid a visit to this adorable miniature village depicting the railway in West Cork during the 1940s.

The Model Railway Village in Clonakilty is the perfect start to exploring West Cork with children. This charming village is a fully scaled model of West Cork towns built in response to the creation of the railway lines between the 1930s and 1950s. The working model trains meander through the model villages of Clonakilty, Kinsale, Dunmanway and Bandon. The boys looked like giants among the miniature towns and enjoyed chasing the working model trains as they chugged along tiny villages with miniature townspeople and stations. We visited in August 2012 when the hydrangea were in full bloom and flowers were bursting from their containers. We were bundled up, as you can see in the photos, even in August. Fortunately, my lovely sisters-in-law saved clothes for the boys to wear during our visit since we don’t own very much cold weather attire. This is one perk when traveling to a visit extended family. We purposefully packed light knowing the boys had a full wardrobe waiting for them in Ireland. This saved us a lot of money in baggage fees and also helped lighten the load. It turned out to be a sweet way to bond with our family in Ireland. The boys were wearing their bigger cousin’s clothes and brought back memories of how much they have grown.

The Model Village in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland

The Model Railway Village in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland

Pixiebug Adventures – A photo journal of family travel

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Photo by Karma Hill Photography

Aloha and welcome to Pixiebug Adventures! Join me on adventures, big and small, where I will share my photo journal with you! My name is June Harper and I am a mom of two boys, a wife of a man from Ireland, a sister, friend, auntie and more. Jack is my Yorkie and the best little model in town. I plan to share new experiences and will post photos of family travel. I grew up traveling as a child and am passionate about exploring this beautiful world with my little family.

Fortunately, we live on Maui (the best island in the whole wide world) in Hawaii so we don’t have to travel far for adventure. We do plan on racking up some frequent flier miles soon and can’t wait to share the stories with you! For now, I am going to be sharing past travel experiences in Ireland, San Francisco, Napa and Hawaii.

Mahalo and thank you for checking out Pixiebug Adventures!

June Harper