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“the devil is in the details”

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Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Ranked #6 of 8 Hotels in Wailea
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 11, 2013

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.

CURB APPEAL.
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.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS.
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?

PARKING.
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.

DOORMAN.
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.

CHECK IN.
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.

DECOR.
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.

ROOMS.
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.

RESTAURANTS.
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.

SUMMARY.
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.

Room Tip: lower floors get lots of traffic noise from rowdy guests and maintenance vehicles
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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23  Thank parisfoodie1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,407 - 4,413 of 6,614 reviews

Reviewed February 11, 2013

We hesitated staying here because of price. We are so very thankful that we stayed here. The pool area is absolutely perfect. The SPA IS So incredibly remarkable. It is one of the best spas that I have ever been to across the globe.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank photographyqueen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2013

We always enjoy the hotel but the place is about due for another remodel in the rooms. Paint and wallpaper issues throughout the hotel. Restuarants have really improved. The first thing that annoyed me was arriving at the hotel and the Valet getting out our bags but 3 times hinting, pretty much asking, for a tip. Let's see, I arrive and the first thing I have is some clown asking for a tip! They charge you an arm & a leg just to park your car anyway. First time that has happened to me in probably 10+ visits to the Resort.

Room Tip: If i gave you the rooms I liked then you might take them!
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Steve C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2013

Just returned from a week at the Grand Wailea. Beautiful property - not as many flowers as I would have expected but very lush greenery. We stayed in room 9072 - clean and quiet, great ocean view. Only problem was someone below us was a smoker and several times a day they would light up and smoke on the lanai - it would drift up to our lanai. We would have to retreat into the room and close the window for 30 minutes each time. Suppose to be non-smoking rooms and no smoking on lanai - oh well.. Used the adult pool and it was nice - hard to find a chair, but we expected that. The wrist band and getting towels was no problem. We ate at the Bistro Molikini and Humahuma both were good. Also ate at Ferraro's next door at the 4 Seasons - excellent. Overall we had a good trip and would go back.

The staff at the hotel were overall friendly and efficient. We did come across a couple who were less than friendly, but that is going to happen any where. If you have kids they will love the pools and slides.

Room Tip: Room 9072 - quiet clean, great ocean view. No AC unit noise.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Webby1640
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2013

I stayed here for a conference and this resort was very nice. The service was really good. The hotel rooms were great with a nice view. The pool and the beach was great. Most of the guests were either retired or newlyweds, but there were a few adults in the 30-50 range. The place is pricey but very nice.

Room Tip: You won't be disappointed if you ask for a room with a view of the ocean.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled on business
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1  Thank Chris C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2013

In January 2013, I stayed for a week at the Grand Wailea in Maui. The resort is absolutely beautiful and provides restaurants, shops, pools, lovely grounds and a quiet, secluded beach. The staff was always available to help in any way needed, and everyone was welcoming and friendly. The balcony provided a magnificent view and was a great place to relax. The room was extremely clean and was spacious.
Although it was a pleasure to drive around Maui and enjoy the towns and scenery, it would have been possible to spend the entire week without leaving the resort. I enjoyed the luau which was held there, and there are plenty of activities available. This is a wonderful place for families or for a couple to enjoy.

Room Tip: I enjoyed the room in the chapel wing since it afforded a view of the chapel, palm trees, and the be...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank shagnfeet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2013

Definitely recommend this location. Friendly staff great location. Really fantastic resort. We really enjoyed the whale watching while relaxing on the beach. Pool and beach were excellent. This was our third visit to this hotel. We enjoy time share hotels on other island locations and always add a few days at the Waldorf.

Room Tip: If you have an ocean view you can see the whales from your balconey during whale season.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank loeeng
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Address: 3850 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, Maui, HI 96753-8443
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Hawaii > Maui > Wailea
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Business Hotel in Wailea
#3 Family Hotel in Wailea
#4 Romantic Hotel in Wailea
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Wailea
#5 Spa Hotel in Wailea
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Wailea
#6 Green Hotel in Wailea
#6 Luxury Hotel in Wailea
Price Range: $548 - $1,409 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 780
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

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