My family and I went to Maui for the first time and based on the recommendation of friends and colleagues, we chose the Grand Wailea. Everything looked absolutely beautiful. The building, the rooms, the grounds, the pools were all stunning. It looked exactly like a 5 star resort.
Unfortunately, the rest of the experience didn't live up to expectations. As stunning as the grounds were, and as beautiful as hte location is, the experience was not up to par. It had all the makings of an awesome vacation experience of a lifetime, but came up short. They seemed to be perpetually understaffed - everywhere.
At the breakfast area, there were 20 minute lineups just to check in, and then another 15-20 minutes, sometimes 30, to get a table. Sadly, you could easily see that a third of the tables were empy - they just didn't have enough staff to bus them and get them ready for the next guests. The food itself was good, when it was there. More often than not, the buffet section had many empty serving trays where bacon, pancakes and waffles should be. The staff were all working really hard to replenish the trays, but the buffet area was too small and there weren't enough staff to keep things moving along. It was too bad, because with a bit more food, and a few more staff, the whole experience would have been superb instead of just ok - and believe me, you pay for superb.
Now the pools. They are terrific! The kids (aged 10 - 18 for us) all loved it, and so did the adults. They are gorgeous and the water slides are really awesome. But again, there were issues that resulted in a missed opportunity to provide value. For one thing, there weren't enough lounge chairs to meet the needs of the guests. That meant that people would get up early to grab towels and "claim" chairs, so if you slept in passed 7:30, you really couldn't find a place to sit down. You have to get a wrist band to show you are a guest (since anyone can walk on to the premises from the beach) and the activity desk opens at 7:00am. Much like the breakfast area, there is a lineup at the activity desk because when you get your wristband, you also get towels, and that's how you claim your chairs. They have a policy that chairs left unused for an hour will get reclaimed, but I didn't see that happening much.
The pools with the slides don't open until 10 am, which is too bad because everyone is all ready to have fun by 8:00 for the reasons I described above. They close at 5:00 in the afternoon as well. I think the hours of operation could easily be extended because maybe that might ease up on the lines a bit. Did I mention there are of course lines for the slides as well? In all fairness, any place with a waterslide will have some lines, it's just that it became something of a running joke that there wasn't really anything you could do there that didn't involve a lineup.
The upshot is this: If you want a comfortable place to relax by the pool, you have to set your alarm to be down at the actvity desk lineup at 6:45, and then find some chairs on which to put your towels. Then you head up to breakfast where you wait about 30-40 minutes to get seated. Then you realize the hour is almost up for your unattended chairs so you have to send one of the kids to flip them back so you don't lose them. Somehow, setting an alarm every day just doesn't seem like a luxury vacation to me.
Turns out it wasn't much different if you wanted to go to the beach. The beach itself, like everything else about this place is absolutely gorgeous! But there is another lineup at 7am. Yes, a lineup to go to the beach. That's to get the lounge chairs and umbrellas because by 8am they're all gone.
We didn't bother with any of that and instead carted our towels to the neighboring beaches which were equally beautiful but far less crowded.
The rooms themselves were spacious, clean, and very comfortable. They could use some sprucing up though. For example, the mattress had dips in it from too much use so you kind of roll into the place everyone else has slept. The On Demand TV system was the most clunky, antiquated system I've ever seen. I've stayed in $50 motels that had more advanced systems and better selection of shows. The were a total of 3 movies suitable for kids.
The restaurants were ok, altohugh one appeared closed, and the other big one actually looked closed because the pond on which i sat had all kinds of junk in the water, but it turned out to be open - it just looks better at night. The snack restaurant is where our kids ate most of the time because it was convenient and the food was good. But the prices are silly. I expect to ay a premium when I'm on the resort grounds, but $4 for a can of coke rom the confection store is a bit much when the ABC store up the street sells the same thing for 79 cents. There's reasonable mark-up, and there's gouging. This really felt like the latter.
So the bottom line for us was that it was a really beautiful resort with plenty to offer. The kids had a terrific time and loved every minute of it. But as much as it looked like a luxury resort, it didn't feel like one. I don't mind average TV systems, or lines for breakfast, or crammed pools - if I'm staying at an average hotel. Phenominal prices should come with phenominal service, and it simply wasn't there. For the price you pay, lineups and setting alarms is the last thing you'd exepct to do.
All of the issues seemed to be caused by their lack of ability to scale up to the number of guests they had. The staff were courteous, friendly, and over-worked. I could easily imagine it being a completely different experience during an off-peak period. But peak periods are peak periods because that's when people go. It may also be much better next year at this time because in each line I was in, the people in front of me and the people behond me were saying they wouldn't be coming back. So it probably won't be as busy, in which case it would probably be great.
If you ignore the lineups and absence of chairs and a host of other details, it is an absoutely stunning place. I went jogging for miles on both sides of the hotel and found nothing that could touch it from an amenities and beauty standpoint. But whether it's the rooms, the pool, or the beach, there is always an asterisk next to the statement that it's great. Would we go back? We're still thikning about it...
- Also Known As:
- Grand Wailea - a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Wailea
- Grand Wailea - a Waldorf Astoria Hotel
- Grand Wailea
- Grand Wailea Hotel
- Grand Wailea Maui
- Grand Wailea Resort
- Grand Wailea Resort Maui
- Grand Wailea Hawaii
- Grand Hotel Wailea
- Grand Resort Wailea
- Grand Wailea - A Waldorf Astoria Resort Maui
- 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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