My wife and I stayed at the Grand Wailea for six nights, July 28-August 3. This was our second visit to this property, the first being in January 2005. We are in our early 40s and we did not bring children.
Overview: The Grand Wailea is a Hilton-owned hotel (as of August 1, 2006) located in the Wailea resort area on southwest Maui, which is the sunniest part -- and hence the most expensive part -- of Maui. The hotel is approximately 30-40 minutes from the Kahului airport; it is just outside the town of Kihei. Renting a car at the airport is a necessity as there is no “shuttle” service or public transportation to the resort area.
Price/Value: We paid $656/night for a “full ocean view“ room, this being the high-season rate. It is difficult to make a distinction, however, between the “full“ and “partial” ocean view rooms in that most rooms are set back several hundred feet from the beach and are to some degree blocked by palm trees. Our supposed full-ocean view room only obliquely viewed the ocean. To see the ocean required standing outside the room on the left side of the patio: “Ah, THERE’S the ocean!” In our opinion, there are very few genuine “full” ocean view rooms -- as in dead-on, sight unobstructed views of the ocean.
Upon check-in we were delighted to find out that we had been upgraded to a Napua Tower room, which is closed off from the other floors by a card-activated gate and includes complimentary continental breakfast (eggs, breads, and fruit, no meat) each morning and a complimentary (!) “happy hour” in the evening.
Additional charges include valet parking of $15/day and a “resort fee” of $20/day. Taxes ran about 4.5%.
Accommodations: The Grand Wailea was built in 1991 and in some respects the rooms need upgrading, such as the low-end bathroom sink and shower fixtures that would not have looked out of place in an interstate motel. The air conditioning was the biggest issue -- the rooms do not have digital thermostats but rather the cheap dial and switch controls -- you don’t get to set the room temperature. Further, although not intolerable, it seemed if the a/c was having some difficulty cooling the room.
This being said, the room was otherwise very tastefully appointed, comfortable, with ample space. Our room had a roll-away couch and coffee table. Each room has bathrobes and high-end toiletries and towels. There is an in-room high-speed internet connection for your laptop with unlimited use, the cost of which is covered under the resort fee.
Service: The best part of the hotel, it seemed to us, was the staff. Everyone, from the valet to the maids to the poolside waitresses to the front-desk to maintenance (after checking in we found our plantation doors stuck) was efficient and polite. The one exception the whole time was service one afternoon for lunch at the Bistro -- the server was incompetent, but still pleasant. Oh well.
Restaurants: The Kincha Japanese restaurant was closed for two of the days we visited (it is always closed on Tuesday and Wednesday) and the seafood restaurant, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (not making that up), was booked both times we tried to get in. Consequently, the only Grand Wailea restaurant at which we ate was the Bistro, for dinner one day and for lunch another. The Bistro overlooks the pools and is essentially bar/grille type food: sandwiches, pizza, salads, and some basic seafood selections. We paid $17 for a hamburger, $16 for a personal pizza, $9 for soup, and $24 for a seafood salad. The main restaurants will run roughly $60/person, exclusive of alcohol, for dinner.
Amenities: There are two very large and well-maintained pools at the Grand Wailea, one of them being adults-only (which evidently is actually enforced) and the other being all-ages, highlighted by a water slide and grotto. We were able to get good location pool lounges only because I went down each morning at 7:00am and “saved” two lounges with beach towels. One good thing: the towels and chairs are included in the resort fee. I understand that some resorts charge for chairs/lounges and towels. A cabana, however, will run you $225/day.
The less crowded beach is shared with the adjoining Four Seasons and was quite scenic and enjoyable.
Other amenities include snorkeling, a “Camp Wailea” for kids, and an attractive chapel for weddings, with an actual Sunday morning service here for guests .
Clientele: Most guests ranged from the 30s-50s, with a good number of families with young children, some retirees, and, of course, honeymooners. We saw very few singles, teens, or twentysomethings. The resort is definitely not a “party” atmosphere. Other reviews have bemoaned the large number of children. While there are lots of kids, we didn’t feel that it was a Disney-like atmosphere or that children were overly obtrusive.
Area attractions: Adjoining the resort are the Shops at Wailea, containing high-end shopping such as Tiffany’s and Yves-Saint Laurent but also containing the obligatory t-shirt shops and two convenience stores. Within the Shops are four restaurants: Tommy Bahamas, Cheeseburgers in Paradise, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and Longhi‘s Italian/Seafood, at all of which we ate and enjoyed. Literally minutes away in the town of Kihei are fast-food restaurants, pharmacy, and a variety of “local” restaurants. We had some excellent Mexican food at a Moose McGillycutty‘s. There is also a Safeway in Kihei, located on the Piliani Highway on the way to/from from the airport. My wife and I stopped in to stock up on soda, juice, munchies, and some alcohol -- doing this saved a lot of money. (And it’s the principle of the thing: we take it as a personal insult to pay $3.50 for a Snicker’s from the mini-bar.)
The town of Lahaina is about 30 minutes up the coast from the resort. The drive offers a striking view of the Maui coastline and of nearby islands. The town of Lahaina itself used to be the island’s primary port and was the royal seat of government, and currently is something like an “old town” downtown area, offering a diversity of restaurants, shops, and entertainment fronting the ocean. The town is nearly all walkable.
Forget the “road to Hana.“ It is literally an all-day drive, is unnerving and decidedly not relaxing, and is mostly all green forests. On our first visit to Maui, we started on it but ended up turning around and coming back. A better drive (shorter, safer, and more scenic) is to the crater atop the 10,000 foot Haleakala volcano, under whose shadow the Wailea area is located.
Summary: We plan to continue vacationing in Maui and will likely stay in Wailea again, although we may give either the Four Seasons or the Fairmont a try. Depending on what time of the year you go and in what type of room you stay, understand that at the Grand Wailea you will spend something around $1000/day total, excluding airfare and any shopping.
Bottom line: The Grand Wailea is indeed wonderful, but horribly expensive and not without flaws.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.