We first discovered Kapalua, a unique resort community tucked away in West Maui, when we honeymooned there in 2001. My wife Marilou’s and my wedding was two weeks after 9/11; State Department warnings forced us to cancel our plans for Indonesia—so we diverted to domestic but tropical Hawaii to begin our life together.

It turned out to be a decision that had many happy returns and started a romance with Kapalua, and the sprawling, bustling Ritz Carlton property, that has included Marilou’s sister’s wedding, our kids birthdays, anniversaries, and some Thanksgivings and Spring Break trips with our parents that has been very special for our family.

Why? Well, there’s a special spirit of luxury blended with a lifestyle that suits our interest in culture, quality and Hawaiian hospitality that’s ever present. That along with warm weather, beautiful light, amazing views, tons of fun and a casually elegant vibe—we love it there.

The Ritz Carlton Kapalua; photo by Jason Dewey

There’s a variety of accommodations in Kapalua, but this time we wanted to stay at the place where it all started for us. We booked into one of the Ritz Carlton’s new two bedroom residential suites that we called home during our one week stay in mid March this year. Combining three rooms, we were able to spread out for sleeping, while having a great communal area to have breakfast (Liam, our 9-year-old, was excited to cook with his grandma—in the kitchen complete with Wolf and Subzero appliances) and relax together in the living room.

The three separate lanais (the perfect place for coffee in the mornings and cocktails in the evenings) were good for this as well, along with the hardwood floors, two spacious bathrooms, tasteful abstract Hawaiian art, and excellent housekeeping service. Marilou’s parent were comfortable in a separate room, similarly appointed, a few doors down.

Our garden view residential suite, located within the hotel itself, overlooked the spacious, lush lawn where Liam and our younger son Quin (6) played football with other kids enjoying spring break, and was a few steps from the hotel’s multi-tiered pool. We enjoyed having a cabana at the pool one day as well, where Marilou’s parents could rest and relax in well-designed spaces with ample shade and couches (as well as a TV) while we kept an eye on the kids in the water, Pina Coladas in hand! Our boys also enjoyed the corn hole game and shuffleboard set up adjacent to the pool.

Quin and Liam particularly enjoyed the Ambassadors of the Environment program. “Everything is Connected” is the motto and it is staffed with warm, friendly, knowledgeable guides, they experienced organic pizza making, made their own compasses, learning about how the Hawaiian islands were formed in the Fires of Pele program (hint: Massive underwater volcanic eruptions are to thank for these majestic places), and went whale watching. This blend of fun and hands-on education really stood out for us and not only gave us as parents time to do activities on our own—like playing tennis and enjoying the fantastic spa (try their signature Lomi Lomi treatment with long, flowing motion for sure)—but also pride knowing our kids actually know more about a place dear to our hearts.

Liam was really excited to try surfing—and Maui is a great place to learn, with gentle waves in ample supply in nearby Kaanapali. He had done well with Stand up Paddle boarding on our last trip and he has amazing balance, so it was great to see the skill set transfer rather seamlessly. Throughout the two one hour lessons, he got up many times and felt the power of riding the waves. He even mentioned that he now has a deeper appreciation for “Surfs Up”, and gets what they mean about the special feeling that comes with being one with the ocean.

As with all good things, time flies and soon we found ourselves at dinner at the Banyan Tree, an extraordinary “farm to fork” restaurant at the Ritz Carlton. With the boys ensconced with their grandparents in the suite, Marilou and I were able to appreciate again why we were in Kapalua with such consistency—the joy of familiarity, crossed with high quality, numerous options for how to spend time together, alignment with values and lifestyle—this is what we define as variations on a theme!