Maui is often the favorite island of many mainlanders (yes, that's how Hawaiians refer to residents of the contiguous 48 states). And it does have some wonderful beaches, great snorkeling on Molokini, a dormant volcano to catch a spectacular sunrise on or whizz down on bikes, the picturesque road to Hana and more. I have a confession: as a local, born and raised in Hawaii, who has been there many times, it's not my favorite Hawaiian island. Or even in my top three. That said, I would happily stay at any of these resorts, and you'll probably want to spend most of your time at them if you stay there, to enjoy all they have to offer.
The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea should be the top choice of any couple that can afford it. It isn't as sprawling and doesn't have the incredible activity pool of the Grand Wailea next door, but that's actually a good thing for couples seeking a peaceful and more luxurious romantic getaway. Expect proactive and genuinely friendly, polished service from staff, who outnumber guests almost two to one. From a complimentary lei greeting and in-room arrival gift to poolside refreshers, such as cool towels, Evian spritzes, fresh baked mini muffins and fruit skewers, complimentary sunscreen in virtually every SPF permutation, and complimentary morning hotel car service for trips nearby, you'll want for very little.
Ironically, the resort may be the best deal of all for families, since the Four Seasons Kids Club, “Kids for All Seasons” is complimentary for kids 5-12 years old and available 9am-5pm daily (kids clubs at the Ritz-Carlton and other resorts are generally $50-100/day). Activities include sand-castle building, hula lessons, lawn hockey, beach volleyball and more.
Another benefit for both couples and families is that even the standard guest rooms at Four Seasons Maui at Wailea are spacious, at 600 square feet-the largest standard guest rooms of any hotel on Maui.
Become a TravelSort Client to Book with These Four Seasons Preferred Partner Benefits:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Full American breakfast for two daily, via in-room dining or at the restaurant (including breakfast buffet)
- $100 food and beverage credit for use during stay
- Early check-in / late check-out subject to availability
- Complimentary basic Internet access for up to two devices per room
The Andaz Maui at Wailea opened in September 2013, and has a modern look and feel. There are beautiful views of the ocean and tiered infinity pools from the airy, high-ceiling lobby. Forego the standard guest rooms, which are small, at 376 square feet, and instead book an ocean view suite for more space and both a soaking tub and walk-in shower. Rooms come equipped with an iPad, automatically controlled blackout shades, complimentary non-alcoholic drinks in the minibar and Kind fruit and nut bars, and Toto toilets. Service is very friendly, if somewhat uneven and not to the level of the Four Seasons. While the resort is better suited to couples, there is in fact a small complimentary kids' club available to kids ages 5-12 from 9am-3pm daily.
Become a TravelSort Client to Book with These Virtuoso Benefits:
- Upgrade at time of booking (for 2015 stays; for 2014, upgrade is on arrival, subject to availability)
- VIP amenities upon arrival with local drinks and cakes
- Daily full breakfast for two, served at Ka'ana Kitchen
- $100 spa credit once during stay
- One tasting of fine Calvados after lunch or dinner for two
- Early check-in / late check-out, based on availability
3. Fairmont Kea Lani
The Fairmont Kea Lani can be a good bet if you want to be in beautiful Wailea, with its gorgeous beaches, sunny days, manicured golf courses and luxury shopping–but want a smaller price tag than the Four Seasons and don't want the lively crowds at the Grand Wailea. The nice thing about the beach here is that it's rarely crowded and mostly just hotel guests, because of the rocky shoreline on either side of it (note that all Hawaii beaches are public). This makes it a good spot for snorkeling, kayaking, and for children. The Fairmont Kea Lani offes complimentary beach chairs, beach umbrellas, and canoe lessons.
All the “rooms” at the Fairmont are actually suites, and start at a gigantic 840 sq. ft, with spacious bathrooms–so ideal if you really love space or have a family in tow. Decor is not too inspiring, in pastel hues, but the two flat-screen TVs and iPod docks almost bring it up to date. Quite frustrating, however, is that the rooms don't have WiFi–not ideal if you have to do some work.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua is gorgeous and gleaming, having been wholly renovated in 2008 to the tune of $180 Million. The resort is on 54 acres, much of it beautifully landscaped, including a 3-tiered pool with a stunning view of the Pacific. The enormous Ritz-Carlton Spa is second only to Spa Grand at the Grand Wailea, and offers a range of organic facials, massages and relaxation areas.
Rooms are smaller than at the other three resorts, at 440 sq ft., but of course luxuriously appointed with custom Sealy for Ritz-Carlton mattresses, 400 thread-count sheets, large flat-screen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, and best of all free (very unusual for a Ritz-Carlton) Wi-Fi in all rooms. Bath amenities are a bit of a disappointment, since they're Ritz-Carlton brand rather than L'Occitane or other designer label.
If you're traveling with family, there's a unique Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassador's Center with eco-conscious activities for kids, such as naturalist-guided hikes, snorkeling, and cultural activities. Unlike at the Four Seasons, it's not free however; expect to pay around $89 for a half day program.
The downside of Kapalua is that it's the windier and rainier side of the island, and the beach here is very rough–not at all suitable for children, who will need to do their swimming in the pool, or for relaxing–lounges and umbrellas are only provided on the lawn, not on the beach itself.
4. Grand Wailea
The Grand Wailea is right next door to the Four Seasons, and while both are luxury hotels and have similarly spectacular ocean views and lovely sandy beach, the atmosphere is quite different. The Grand Wailea has more than twice as many guestrooms and is a much larger resort at slightly lower price point, so don't expect anywhere near the same level of attentive, polished service you'll receive at the Four Seasons. Rooms are perfectly lovely, and are some of the largest standard resort rooms on the island after the Fairmont, at 640 sq ft. Spa Grande offers fantastic massages, and is ranked as one of the top spas in the U.S.
The Grand Wailea wouldn't, however, be my choice for a romantic getaway; it's a much livelier, noisier place, especially in and around the pool area. On the positive side, this is where to take active kids (or kids at heart) who want to spend the entire day at a water park, because that's essentially what the Grand Wailea's enormous Activity Pool is, with its lazy river, four jungle pools, four tile slides, a whitewater rapids slide, a Tarzan pool with rope swing, the world's first water elevator, a sand beach, six waterfalls, caves, three Jacuzzis and a swimup bar. Note that you really can't invite your friends staying at other properties to come swim with you in the pool area, since the hotel strictly enforces its hotel guests only policy at the pools: you must wear a wristband that you get from the front desk, as a hotel guest.
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