October 2013: Hawaii
Escape Monthly is one of the coolest subscription box concepts out there – who doesn't want to take a virtual vacation every month? For October, they picked one of America's top travel destinations: the tropical paradise Hawaii. The travel brochure's text made it sound truly enticing:
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful tropical paradises in the world. With fresh floral air, warm waters, and incredible spectacles of natural beauty, each island is home to unique cultural practices and heritage.
This month, we're bringing the sandy shores right to your door. Dip your toes in the warm salt water, gently moisturize and scrub away your worries, and indulge in delicious treats. You'll discover the essence of what makes this destination so incredible.
A hui hou kakou! (“Until we meet again!”)
As I open the box, I can smell the strong scent of coconuts, which makes me want to dive right into this box. Let's go!
As I mentioned in my previous Escape Monthly review, this box is unusual because they list a retail value for each item in the package. It's even stranger because the retail price they come up with often does not match what I find online, even if I order the item directly from the creator's website. I don't know where they get their numbers from.
Moon Handbooks: Big Island of Hawai'i Travel Guide: My husband and I were just debating last week whether we could try to plan a trip to Hawaii next year, since flights are relatively inexpensive from the California coast. This book will be a great help if and when we plan such an adventure. The book sells for $17.99 on Moon's website, and that is the price listed in the travel brochure.
Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt: If I'd received this a few months ago, I would have been like "Whatever" and put the salt on a shelf and forgotten about it. But one of the things I discovered in Utah was "real salt", which is a natural salt that has more flavor than regular salt and really enhances dishes. For the first time, I found myself using salt in my cooking. So this Alaea salt actually intrigues me quite a bit. The red comes from a clay, which supposedly has even more nutrients in it. A six ounce bottle of this stuff retails for $14.99, which is the price Escape Monthly provided, but it's worth noting that the bottle sitting on my desk is definitely less than six ounces - honestly, I doubt it's even a full ounce's worth of salt. So I'm assigning this a value of $3.00.
Gentle Scrub Facial Buff: It has been a long time since I used a buffing cloth thing like this, but I remember we used to sell similar products at Bath & Body Works at prices ranging from $3.50 - $5.00. I think that Escape Monthly's estimate of $7.00 is a little high, but I'll let it go since it's been a while since my days of selling lotion.
Seashell Lei: A seashell necklace. Well, I definitely associate this with Hawaii. I think they were giving these away all over the place when I was there. They're dirt cheap. Escape Monthly claims that these retail for $5.99, and at California Seashell Company that is the price listed...for a dozen leis. So in reality, one seashell necklace is worth about $0.50.
My favorite part of any subscription box...the snacks!
Tiesta Tea Maui Mango: This is the "mystery bonus item" for the Hawaii box. It sounds pretty good - pineapple, mango, orange, strawberries and marigold flowers should brew into a tasty, fruity tisane. This was apparently voted the best iced tea at the 2009 World Tea Expo - so it seems worth a try to me! (Definitely not Hawaiian-made, though - Tiesta Tea is based on Chicago.) A 2.5 oz pouch sells for $6.99 on the Tiesta Tea website, but for some reason the travel brochure tacks on an extra dollar and lists it for $7.99.
Hawaiian Host Dark Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts: Because you can't have a Hawaii-themed box without something from Hawaiian Host. You just can't. I would have been incredibly disappointed if there were no chocolate macadamia nuts in the box. Hawaiian Host doesn't sell these individually, but a box of twenty-four two-piece "bars" sells for $26.50. This does not divide out to the $2.00 that Escape Monthly prices the candy at, but I'll assume it's more expensive when you don't buy it in bulk and give them a pass on this one.
Royal Hawaiian Orchards Papaya Lime Macadamia Crunch: These are amazing. I've just opened the bag and it's already half gone. I don't know how that happened...it's a very sweet crunch of seeds and papaya, bound by sugar sugar sugar. Delicious. Like the chocolate covered nuts, I didn't find these being sold individually, but a six pack is $24.90, which divides out to $4.15. For once, Escape Monthly and I agree.
Tub & Scrub Hawaiian Bath Salts: The name of the scent is "Oregon Rain", which I find a bit funny since last month's box was Oregon-themed! But it looks like the company is located in Hawaii, so this some authentic Hawaiian sea salt to soak in. The scent is not listed on Tub & Scrub's website. The packaging, too, doesn't match any of the bottles on the site. I wonder if this is old stock that they're clearing out? Well, who cares? It has a fresh, clean smell that I really like. Probably retailed for $10.00, like Escape Monthly says.
Ola Coconut Body Butter: I've been needing some nice thick cream, because my skin is dry like a lizard's. Something about Utah sucked every last drop of moisture out! This definitely smells like coconut, with a slight sweetness that is quite nice. The cream is also, according to the company website, "infused with our unique synergetic healing blend of Organic and Wildcrafted Hawaiian Botanical Distillates (Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potato, Banana, Seaweeds, Aloe Vera, Sugar Cane, Bamboo, Ginger, Noni, Olena and Taro)". Well. Wow. That's quite a list, and I'm pretty sure I've never used half those things on my skin before. I can't wait to see how this works. $10.00.
Personal Paradise Coconut Lime Body Lotion: I'm a little surprised that there are two body moisturizers in the same box, especially since the travel brochure described a body wash. This reminds me of Bath & Body Works, too, because they carried a Coconut Lime Verbena line when I worked there. Another great-smelling product! A 2 oz bottle of this lotion sells for $3.00; the tube I'm holding in my hands is even smaller than that (1.25 oz). I don't know where Escape Monthly got a price tag of $9.95, unless the body wash in this scent contained magical ingredients.
Honey Girl Organics Face & Eye Cream: I'm shocked, but this appears to be a full-sized product! This has a slightly musty patchouli-like odor, but the cream looks thick and has the viscosity I've come to associate with products containing royal jelly. Honey tends to be very healing and great for skin, so I'm intrigued - but the scent does seem rather strong for an eye cream. $30.99 on the company website...
Honey Girl Organics Night Cream: This tiny sample of night cream is about the size of a quarter. It's only one or two uses, tops. I don't mind, necessarily, since the Face & Eye Cream was full-sized, but I do find it interesting. A full-sized pot would be $30.99, like the face cream, which must be where Escape Monthly gets their retail total of $62.00. But this tiny dab of lotion? It's a $1.00 sample, tops!
So I think I've figured out the funky pricing system. Escape Monthly gives you the price of a full-sized product, were you to go out and buy that item in a store. That's fine, I suppose, if you want to calculate how much it will cost to get a product that you like. In terms of figuring out if the subscription box itself is a good value, that's not all that useful, since a tiny sample is obviously worth quite a bit less than its full-sized counterpart. For example, if you go by the prices listed in Escape Monthly's travel brochure, this box was worth $152.06! That would be an AMAZING deal...but by my best calculations, what actually arrives in the box is worth about $94.62. Again, pretty good deal, since the subscription only cost me $39.95.
Next month: Vermont!
Escape Monthly is a vacation-themed subscription box. Each month, one subscriber is randomly chosen to "win" a trip to the themed location! The subscription rate is $49.95 a month, but if you use the coupon code "YOURESCAPE" your subscription will be 20% off each month. (That's what I did - otherwise, this would be too expensive for me!
If you want to know more or wish to subscribe, please consider using my referral link: http://mbsy.co/hjDG