by LEHIA APANA
A Maui retreat redefines R & R.
A CALL BUZZES IN AND I FRANTI~ CALLY DIG INTO MY PURSE TO FIND THE NOISY CULPRIT. “SORRY,” I TELL MY GUIDE MATTHEW MURASKO, WHO SMILES, SEEMINGLY UNAFFECTED BY MY TECHNOLOGICAL FAUX PAS.
I POWER THE PHONE COMPLETELY OFFÂ°SOMETHING I HAVEN’T DONE IN MONTHSÂ°AND WITH THAT CLICK, MY LUMERIA TRANSFORMATION BEGINS.
Situated along six ocean-view acres on Maui’s north shore, this 24-room luxury educational retreat redefines rest and relaxation. And while its deluxe accommodations come with all kinds of creature comforts, there are two things you won’t find here. “No televisions, no telephones-there’s already enough input in our lives,” explains Mathew Murasko, Lumeria’s director of partnerships.
It’s the first of many clues that Lumeria is no ordinary place. Another hint is its history.
Originally built in 1909 by sugar baron and politician Henry Perrine Baldwin as a senior home, its later incarnations included a WWI military facility, a seminary dormitory, and barracks for pineapple workers. After a decade of being left vacant and neglected, award-winning architectural conservator and interior designer, Xorin Balbes, stepped in. He purchased the property in 2009 and went straight to work restoring it. Lumeria welcomed its first guests two years later.
While traces of its rustic plantation past are seen in the wide-hipped roofline and expansive porticos, a tour through the guest rooms reveals Balbes’ impeccable aesthetics. Each individually decorated space features crisp whites offset by bold wooden furnishings and glamorous four-poster beds as a focal point.
Lumeria is the kind of place where rooms are given names like Mo’o and Honu, where footwear is removed at the lobby entrance, and where you’re on a first-name basis with the head chef. And unlike other posh getaways, which come standard with infinity pools and valet service, complimentary amenities here include yoga classes, morning and afternoon meditation and organic farm-to-table breakfast served daily. We make our way to the kitchen, where chef Craig King is enveloped in a steam cloud rising from a gigantic pot. Affectionately referred to as “head of fuel,” King is often seen pacing between here and an organic garden just steps away. Right now he’s concocting a leafy-greens soup as part of the Lumeria Glow Cleanse-an all-liquid meal plan available to both visitors and locals.
Within minutes, King slides his signature Tropi-Glow Juice (pineapple, apple, coconut, ginger) across the table, named as such “because everyone loves it so much,” he says. One sip in, and I’m sold-and most definitely in love. Between giant swigs, I nod in agreement as King explains how the cleanse is just another piece of the Lumeria puzzle. “There’s a renewing foundation here and it really is an educational experience.
It’s learning through food,” he says.
Where was this class when I was in school? I wonder, tipping my glass to get that final drop of Love Juice. “Okay, now just listen,” Murasko says as we move to the expansive courtyard just outside the kitchen. In that moment, I realize how loud silence can be. The birds are twittering in sync with wind-blown chimes hanging on a nearby tree. Palm leaves patter with the breeze. And then something really novel emerges-the sound of my own breath. I snap out of this accidental meditation session and notice Balbes walking towards us. Dressed in all white and with a deep smile, he is the picture of tranquility. His gentle enthusiasm overflows as he speaks of the retreat’s learning opportunities.
Here at Lumeria, he says, the educational component is not only important-it’s required. Overnight visitors must take part in one of the many programs offered, including Hawaiian history, metaphysics and horticulture. Luckily for guests, Lumeria utilizes Maui’s natural wonders as its classroom. And as it turns out, they’ve also enlisted some of the island’s finest teachers. Guests may follow respected healer Lei’ohu Ryder through Kahakuloa’s Kukuipuka heiau (temple); or stay closer to home for a Native Hawaiian botanical tour around the six-acre property with ‘Ekolu or Puanani Lindsey of Maui Cultural Lands. Delve into nature with horticulture classes with Anne Gachuchi of the Home Gardening Support Network. Ready for a surf session? Big-wave pioneers Dave Kalama or Buzzy Kerbox will be your guides. Ladies can opt for women-specific instruction with local stand-up paddle ambassador Suzie Cooney. Wellness classes include Feldenkrais classes with Skeeter Tichnor and Chrissy Kapoor and aromatherapy classes with Arin Igraham. Additionally, yoga instruction includes Anusara Yoga and musical yoga evenings, also with Tichnor and Kapoor. All of these things are meant to shift the way guests live their lives, Balbes says, explaining that, “Instead of checking out, this is about checking in.” And with that, it clicks. Lumeria is not a place for postponing daily stresses. Rather, it’s a place to recalibrate and emerge with a renewed purpose.
While Lumeria has plenty to offer guests, its real magic lies in what isn’t there, like that pile of proposals you’ve been meaning to look at, that garage door that needs fixing-and yes, even that pesky cell phone that won’t stop buzzing.