My family has been going to this resort for many years. It has changed hands many times since it's founder created it. Each time the property changes hands it changes a bit. As a Waldorf, it is generally very well managed. It is apparent that this management company faithfully tries to keep the original idea and spirit of the Grand Wailea alive. Some other management companies did not, so I am happy to see it under good care.
In general this resort is a complete package. It has a beautiful location on a wonderful beach that can have both good surf or calm surf. The pools and slide systems are fantastic. There is an adult pool area for which the age limits are enforced in the rare cases it needs to be. There are many water slides and a water elevator. This means you can go on the slides over and over without actually having to get out of the water.
The drinks are phenomenal, though since I've been going there for so long they seem pricey. They have smoothies (which are more like milkshakes since they're typically made with good (not cheap) ice cream) of all varieties (typical flavors like vanilla, tropical flavors like mango, candy flavors like oreo) They have a Lava Flow (similar to a Miami Vice) with pina colada mix on the bottom and strawberry daiquiri on top. All of their alcohol drinks are delicious, blended and rocks drink alike.
The staff is generally attentive and warm, especially those who have stuck around a long time. This resort is not inexpensive, but is now seems to be a little less expensive than its neighbors.
The restaurants at the hotel are all very nice, albeit expensive. The decor of the newly redone Japanese restaurant underneath the lobby is very well done. I would describe it as Japanese food Tapas style. To be clear the plates are small and seem to be expensive, but somehow we filled up with delicious food for less than most of our other dinners at the hotel and at local area restaurants.
The hotel is located next to The Shops at Wailea, which is a 4-5 minute walk from the front of the hotel. There you can find all manner of shops with an emphasis on high end brand shops and restaurants (Tommy Bahamas, Ruth's Chris).
For Golfers, there is easy access to many wonderful courses, including the Wailea courses, (Blue, Emerald, Gold) among others. Grand Wailea used to have a free shuttle to and from nearby courses but on our last visit this had been removed. Neighboring resorts still have this service.
For athletically active: The fitness facility is well appointed, with staff to mix a custom pre or post workout shake. Ice, Cucumber, and lemon infused waters are available along with iced towels to cool off. The 'downstairs' room of the fitness center used to be filled with pilates machines but is now a free weight room with some machines to complement the ones upstairs. The hotel is located on a beach hugging path that yields about a 3 mile run/walk along the ocean - a few times we've seen whales playing not too far out to sea. Those looking for longer runs (or cycles) will be very happy using the main road with its vistas and views, but it's hilly and the heat/sun shouldn't be taken lightly.
There are a number of bars including a water bar, there is a bar in the middle of the open-air Napua tower. It's quite magical sitting there 'inside' the hotel when a quick afternoon shower passes over the hotel as rain falls into shallow decorative pools. This bar, the Bortero bar, also has live music in the evenings. Upon my last visit the bar seemed to be heavily promoting a new blue colored sparkling wine from CA with a big display in the center of the bar and tastings. For me, this is borderline commercialization, but it didn't quite go over the line. Bistro Molokini and the swim up bar both have TVs, but the others do not (in keeping with a relaxing get-away vacation).
The resort features extensive collections of sculpture art and in-hotel art galleries. NaHoku has a location in the hotel.
There is a non-denominational chapel for anyone wishing to attend a service (or to get married). The luau is extravagant and accompanied by a large selection of great food on the lawn just off the beach. I attended this on my most recent visit with my girlfriend and was slightly disappointed by the choice of photography company. Upon entrance to the lawn we were directed over to get photos taken - which because of the way the red velvet rope was set up - was unavoidable. We went later to the photo booth and were essentially yelled at for taking out a cell phone by the sour looking attendant - She thought we were going to take a cellphone picture of the picture her photographer had taken. We had plenty of our own photos and were not willing to pay $60 for three photos. There were a number of local artists selling unique goods (and this number has increased recently) from jewelry (sans precious metals/jewels) to hand carved wooden totems and statues. This kind of stuff is interesting and local, and the artists themselves are the vendors. Kids and adults alike were mesmerized by the deft agility with which the wood carver carved totems, dolphins, etc..
This hotel is amazing, my only concern for the future is that it will become overly commercialized. What I mean by this is that I am concerned that the hotel is increasingly renting out spaces to outside vendors (like the photographer above) promising access to presumably wealthy tourists but also reducing the quality of experience had by those tourists. A good example of this is the growing number of vendors in the now-overcrowded space where you must go to get a daily pool band. (The property has had past problems with guests of neighboring hotels and the local area crashing the pools because they are so beautiful). This space used to be clear. In the late 90's a few vendors popped up doing things like henna tattoos and other tropically themed things that seemed to fit in. On my last visit there were far too many vendors selling far too many things and it really cheapened the experience a little for me. There was even a popcorn vendor with a popcorn cart.
My experience was not bad because of this, but I fear if Waldorf moves further on this path to find new ways to monetize its ownership of the resort, it will move itself downmarket and potentially destroy the idea and spirit that makes the Grand Wailea so great. This, again, is just a concern; the hotel is phenomenal and I will absolutely be going back.
If you can swing it, an ocean view is phenomenal. Looking out from your balcony over the property t...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.