SPOILER ALERT: This is a long, detailed review.
We read over 100 reviews of this property during our stay -- a range of reviews from recent to not so recent; good to bad. We wanted to reality-check our experiences before feeling comfortable submitting this one. We waited a few days once we were back home to develop a fair perspective and to write an honest, helpful review. We were tempted to give the Grand Wailea a one-star rating to get the attention of management, but it wouldn't be entirely fair. And we do want to be fair because we really felt confused and disappointed with such a fabled property.
Our rating of "poor" is the result of a disconnect between what we expected based upon marketing and price versus the actual experience. Our biggest disappointment was that this resort simply did not live up to our expectations of the Waldorf Astoria brand -- a legendary brand known for luxury; nor did it match our experiences in other "luxury" properties around the world.
To my mind, attention to detail is distinguishes itself from the merely pleasant with a demonstrable pursuit of excellence. True luxury correlates to price because luxury requires effort. Yet luxury expresses itself seemingly effortlessly and exquisitely in every detail.
Grand Wailea appears in many ways to be striving for luxury but it feels half-hearted. Are they cutting corners or are they on a budget? It feels like a Las Vegas style attempt to dazzle on the surface. But one shouldn't peek behind the curtains or scratch the surface? Don't wear glasses and don't look in corners because the reality once peeled back is either shabby, pretentious or clumsy.
Arriving for the first time kind of got us off to a bad start. We arrived late evening. The resort is not well marked so we came upon it at the last minute, rolling down a steep, poorly lit street. Every subsequent approach upon returning to the property, whether by day or night, was a slow and careful one to ensure we didn't miss the driveway. The signage is tasteful, but kind of concealed. We felt there was room for improvement.
Our first cue that Grand Wailea was playing fast and loose with quality was the lei presented to the women. The lei is half fresh orchids and half paper. The paper spacers are cheap and cheesy filler. Presenting a lei is a gesture of hospitality that speaks to the respect the presenter has for the recipient. For shame. Is this how the Grand Wailea values its guests? Fake and tacky half-measures?
No choices. 100% valet. Good news is that you can call your car up ahead of time. And a very nice touch that two small bottles of chilled water are placed every time you retrieve the vehicle.
Very strange doorman. Upon arrival, we popped a trunk full of luggage. He sauntered up and asked in an off-hand way, "do you want help with your luggage?" We thought it odd that we were being offered a choice. The evidence was clear: the trunk was full of luggage. The property is spread out and graded on all sorts of levels of up and down and around and about (definitely not ADA friendly).
How odd that any member of staff would think an arriving guest to a luxury resort with this kind of layout would want to negotiate their own luggage.
I was dumbstruck at first. The back-handed compliment is that we must have appeared young and fit enough to manage it on our own. The place was quiet. It wasn't busy. We weren't making any anxious moves to do it ourselves. It was an awkward stand-off. Since absolutely no physical movement was forthcoming from the doorman, I said, "well, I guess not." This must have been the response he was hoping for. He literally spun around and disappeared.
Even if we ultimately wanted to spare the doorman any undue exertions, it seems the proper training would be to initiate assistance without asking.
In general, throughout our stay, we noticed that the bell and door staff were a sulky lot. Door staff are "first responders" and set the tone. I don't expect fawning obsequiousness but I do expect professional, friendly and helpful.
It was late in the evening so the front desk was deserted. The receptionist was polite and really trying hard. We could tell she had the best of intentions. But her level of skill/ experience was not ready for prime time. She kept calling us "you guys" and inexplicably giggled in a flustered, apologetic way. It was friendly but felt unprofessional.
The bones of the resort are meant to impress. Vast, monumental spaces. Soaring vistas. Lush landscaping. A Las Vegas feel.
Setting aside my personal preference for a more cohesive landscaping theme, I was struck by the feeling that the plantings just weren't being maintained to its highest potential. Plantings were too thinly spaced, dying back or sparse in some places and over-bloomed and overgrown in other areas. Plants intended for dappled shade were burning and stressed in full sun. Areas of the garden reeked of rot (these odours were above and beyond the normal tropical wet/ moist smells.) The feeling we got was that they were skimpy in an effort to stretch a budget and that there were areas of deferred or inept maintenance.
There are two large vases near the elevators at the end of the entry level. They hold tired, dusty, dried materials. Numerous public spaces had fake rather than fresh flowers. An inadequate budget for fresh flowers? Not what you'd expect from Hawaii or a luxury resort.
The rooms are spacious indeed and have a quite beautiful design scheme of warm yellow paint, dark woods and tropical fabrics. Really liked the louvered sliding doors and window treatment that provided absolute privacy and added to the tropical ambiance.
After spending time in the room, we wondered whether staff is properly supervised or trained. Whoever designed the space and furnishings never spent a night or day in the room to actually experience it as a guest would.
The thermostat to the room is right above the bedside lamp. How can you regulate heat or cold in the evening with the lamp on? The main HVAC vent to the room is in direct line to the work desk and directly across the sliding patio doors. That means working at the desk gives you either a direct blast from the HVAC or, if you prefer working with the patio doors open, you get a direct draft/ exposure. There is no escaping or modulating airflow despite an overhead ceiling fan.
The patio is barely deep enough to accommodate the outdoor furniture. The furniture itself is well-appointed and comfortable although there is only one ottoman for two lounge chairs. We had to take turns using it. Rearranging furniture was difficult and awkward because the depth of the patio really didn't allow for much freedom of movement.
The bathtub was not cleaned. Our first fill up revealed water full of grey, flaking, soapy scum. The knobs to the tub were near impossible to loosen because their design, a smooth chrome, allowed no purchase for a decent grip.
The towels were bright white and fluffy but many had long runs and loose threads.
The toilet paper is single ply! It's the cheap, grey, rough quality one would find in the meanest public bathroom. Unexpected in a luxury property. Environmental sensitivities aside, it just felt like they cheaped out.
There is a small "kitchen" nook. The complimentary coffee and tea are standard Hilton issue -- i.e., pedestrian. The bar refrigerator is standard hotel issue -- awkward to pry open without two hands. The paint was mouldering and peeling around the area. The wood was chipped and splintered. There was evidence of a mini-bar, now empty, in the middle of a bank of drawers. They ought to have renovated the drawer to make it usable.
NOISE AND SECURITY.
We were in the Chapel wing of the resort at the very end of the property. We thought this would be quiet and private. Our first night we entered the room to hear music playing loudly. We called security and they said, sheepishly, that this was a private party and there was nothing they could do about it but not to worry since it was one night only.
During the day, guests passed in front of our first floor patio (not ground level) on their way to and from the pool and beach, shouting to one another -- across the lawn, up into rooms above us; and unsupervised, screaming children ran amok.
The second night the guests two floors above us opened up their patio doors and had a boisterous, alcohol-fueled party. We once again had to call security and this time they were successful in getting the noise to stop.
Thanks god for Alan Wong's Amasia which was the only place to eat that we felt had excellence on its mind. The other eateries offered unremarkable resort food whose intention, , consistent with just about everything else about the property, conspired to meet a minimal expectation for a maximum price tag.
Wallpaper was visibly peeling off in a number of public spaces.
Note to management: this is a beautiful setting in need of better trained staff and better attention to detail.
Note to potential guests: save your money. You will be disappointed that you spent so much for an experience you could have gotten for half the price somewhere else.
Regardless of how much money you are willing to spend, this is regrettably not good value. And if what you seek is a true luxury experience, the Grand Wailea is not up to it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is the ultimate destination for a fabulous Hawaii vacation, perfect for families, spa goers, honeymooners, golfers and active vacationers. Situated on 40 acres of lush, tropical Hawaiian gardens, Grand Wailea opens onto Maui's beautiful Wailea Beach, voted one of the best beaches in America, with elegant and newly-renovated accommodations, indulgent spa treatments, fine dining and thrilling recreational options. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Wailea - a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Wailea
- Grand Wailea Maui
- Grand Wailea Resort Maui
- Grand Wailea Hawaii
- Grand Hotel Wailea
- Grand Resort Wailea
- Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Resort Maui