Photography provided by the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

It’s 5:45 a.m., and I’m standing with my toes in the sand of Maui, Hawaii’s D.T. Fleming Beach awaiting the start of the Hi’uwai and E ala E ceremonies (the latter meaning “awakening”). The sun hasn’t yet risen but will soon. The waves are crashing on the shore as cultural practitioners lead our group in traditional chants to raise the sun. Once it’s up, we quietly run into the ocean to cleanse ourselves, renewing in body and spirit. The 27th annual Celebration of the Arts Festival at the luxe Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua has officially commenced.

The spirit of aloha is overwhelmingly alive during this three-day festival. Unlike any get-together I’ve ever experienced, this long weekend is bursting with traditional native Hawaiian culture and history. From hula performances to hands-on art demonstrations, there are activities to pack every minute of your itinerary. A can’t-miss event? The Celebration of Island Tastes, a traditional Hawaiian feast (think steamed kalua pork and sweet potatoes from the imu) enjoyed while watching hula and choir performances.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua created the celebration in partnership with its full-time cultural advisor. This breathtaking five-star resort is the only property in the Ritz-Carlton portfolio to have such a role. Taking place next to the Honokahua Preservation Site, the resting place of more than 2,000 Hawaiian ancestors, the festival aims to honor those ancestors and share Hawaiian culture and values with visitors.

Spanning nearly 54 acres of lush green vegetation overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is the perfect setting for almost any occasion. The resort describes itself as “island-inspired luxury,” and it is exactly that. Aloha spirit meets unmatched amenities, including golf courses overlooking the water, a dreamy spa inspired by ancient traditions, inventive dining experiences at the numerous restaurants, and more. Guests looking to take their stay to the next level (quite literally) can book a room on the Club Level to enjoy exclusive perks like concierge services and complimentary food and drinks throughout the day.

Aloha means peace, love and compassion. This spirit is alive and well at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. It’s hard to put into words how special the resort’s Celebration of the Arts Festival really is — it needs to be experienced to truly understand its significance. After being fully immersed in the spirit of aloha, I will forever have a place in my heart for Kapalua.

Plan ahead: Partake in the 28th annual Celebration of the Arts Festival and book your stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua the weekend of April 10–12.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.