For our last two visits to Hawaii we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. My daughter and I really wanted to go back to that property. We are quite smitten with the HWV fantasy pools, boat ride to our room, dolphins, and Buddha Point. But, my wife insisted that we make it to Maui for this trip. The Maui Ritz in Kapalua had a great rate but we quickly soured on that idea after reading all the negative reviews. A couple of years ago I saw a great piece on the Travel Channel about the Grand Wailea, Oprah takes her staff there, and based on the abundance of positive reviews on Trip Advisor we decided to give this hotel a chance.
This vacation, far and away, was the best we have ever experienced.
The weather: We arrived after the spring break crush on April 22, 2009. One day ahead of plan because the weather forecast for our stay looked quite bleak and the 22nd was the only day not calling for rain (even though my wife assured me that Wailea had a freakish micro-micro climate with little or no clouds/rain.) Upon our descent into Maui, as I had feared, a huge low pressure system laid a thick layer of clouds over the islands. As we made our final approach from the south, a small break in the clouds allowed the sun to light up a few hotels on the southern shore of Maui. I couldn’t make out the GW, but, with its white wash exterior I could clearly see the Fairmont from the window of the plane. I knew the Fairmont was in the same neighborhood as the GW. So maybe we had a chance of avoiding the dreaded ‘rained out’ Hawaii vacation.
The hotel made arrangement for our transportation from the airport (taxi). As mentioned, we decided to come a day early and the concierge said they would change our pick up date. The change wasn’t made. No big deal, we grabbed a taxi (mini van) at the stand, and made our way to the resort. ($60 + tip). The cab driver was great and the ride was short (20-25 minutes). As we rolled into Wailea, the scenery turned noticeably up-scale.
Arrival and check-in were flawless. The lei greeting made it special. As reported by others, the bell desk is excellent, and really got the stay off to a good start as they escorted us up to our room in the Napua tower.
Although more expensive, the Napua tower was an excellent value (A few more sq ft., better lanai furniture, central location, morning continental breakfast, and evening hors d’oeuvres/cocktails, and personal concierge). I recommend a room facing west to catch the sunset (Or, get a Napua suite.)
As mentioned by others, the fantasy pools are great. They do a good job of separating the ‘big fun’ water park from the sublime adult pool.
As planned, we didn’t venture out of Wailea. We fell into a nice resort rhythm during our 6 day stay.
1.Breakfast at the Napua Club
2.Have the GW staff set up our beach umbrella and chairs.
3.Wander back and forth between the beach and pools.
4.Participate in one ‘loosely’ planned event for the day (spa, luau, snorkeling, scuba lessons)
5.Lunch at our beach camp. (My wife would venture to shopping center next door and grab us some deli sandwiches and snacks.)
6.Grab a cocktail in the Humu lounge for the torch lighting ceremony
7.Head up to the Napua Club for evening hors d’oeuvres and a few more cocktails.
8.Watch the sunset from the lanai.
9.Nightly stroll of torch lit property and beach.
10.End up back in the lobby bar for some live music and night cap (the bartender made the kids great smoothies)
11.Head back up to the room, watch the local Hawaii news and go to sleep.
(Return to step 1 and repeat for six days/five nights)
The kids will be older for our next visit to Hawaii, therefore will add a little more off site adventure, but, we all really enjoyed falling into this daily relaxed routine.
The few negative reviews I’ve read about this property are from folks who expect the staff to perform at a Four Season, Ritz, or Park Hyatt level. Many of the GW staff does perform at that level especially the bell desk, and the Napua Club bartenders/servers. I felt like the GW is reaching for the ‘flawless’ service standards you’d expect at a 5 star property, and they come oh, so very close. Only a couple slips. My wife asked the pool server for a cocktail while looking for a place to lounge and the server abruptly asked her to find her seat first (the server apologized). The young woman running the towel/wrist band desk in the morning could probably use some training at the Disney institute. One night housekeeping arrived to restock our ice bucket with a plastic laundry bag of ice.(handing me the bag). I mentioned this to the manager on duty and he said they would put a stop to this 'tacky' practice). As mentioned before, they fumbled our pick up at the airport (I can’t imagine the Four Seasons would have dropped that ball). I did visit our next door neighbors (Marriot and Four Seasons). The evening vibe at the Four Seasons is fantastic, but the facility is ho-hum compared to the Grand Wailea and the exterior of the Marriot is downright dowdy/low-rent in appearance (although in fairness, the new Marriot adult pools are sharp and, based on the pictures, the rooms look rather nice). At the end of the day the extraordinary facility and the ‘mostly perfect’ service, push the Grand Wailea to the top in my book. Even w/out the kids in tow we would be hard pressed to pick the Four Seasons over the GW (but, for sure, we will stop by for dinner at Spago).
p.s. Not one drop of rain fell in our little Wailea micro climate during the six day stay. Even though the road to Hana was closed (mud slides) and the leeward side of the island experience heavy rains and flash floods (not common for the leeward side).
- 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