We went to the Grand Wailea for the third week of June, but stayed a few days over into 4th of July week; for our first week, the resort felt serene and uncrowded; but as soon as schools let out for summer and the holiday week began, it became raucous and noisy literally overnight! Depending on the timing, the Grand Wailea can feel posh and romantic -- or like DisneyWorld.
If you do have kids in tow, they will go crazy for the elaborate series of lagoon pools with water slides. We strolled into every hotel in Wailea and along Ka'anapali Beach, and you really can't beat the water attractions at the GW, including an in-pool bar, grottoes, waterfalls to swim through and a lazy river. Great fun! There is also a glorious adult pool that was crystal clear and spacious, with artistic tiling and a fountain, and a breezy sports bar/restaurant attached (Molokini) that has decent (although pricey) grub.
Best things about the Grand Wailea: beautiful landscaping around the resort, with koi ponds, fountains, waterfalls, gardens, bridges, mosaics. A showy, open-air lobby, with Botero sculptures, pools and art. The shops and art galleries, pricey but fun to stroll through. Dinner at Humuhumunukunukuapuaa restaurant, designed to look like thatched huts in a lagoon stocked with big fish. The bed (comfy, feather), bathroom (big tub, glass shower) and balcony. A big, modern fitness center. The pools. A great team of concierges. Downside: the room was showing a bit of wear around the seams; especially the carpeting and sofa.
In Wailea, we did a short hike through the lava fields and the woods at La Perouse Bay, an easy drive. It's also fun to stroll over to the Four Seasons, the Fairmont and the Andaz along the beachfront walk. Grab a fancy cocktail at the Four Seasons lobby bar, but don't eat there; the bar food was flat-out awful on the night we went, not fresh and way overpriced.
In fact, you're better off avoiding the fancier restaurants at most of the Wailea resorts; most feature insane prices and kitchen staffs who phone it in, hiding behind the reputations of big-name chefs who are mostly absent. In fact, food all over the resort is wildly overpriced; instead, there are great, cheap fish taco joints in Kihei and local markets; we stocked up on breakfast food, and used our in-room refrigerator. Oddly, the best meals we had on the resort grounds were not from the "award winning" restaurants but from the pool menu, the Molokini bar and one lovely late-night meal from room service, with fresh smoked salmon and warm rolls.
Kate at the concierge desk gave us smart, thoughtful restaurant choices, including Cuatro, in a Kihei mini-mall, serving delicious seafood (make reservations).
We also loved Matteo's, on Wailea Ike Place, right near the GW. This restaurant is an obvious labor of love for its charming Italian owners, and has a fine dining feel at reasonable prices, plus a wine bar offering 3-oz. tastes; we enjoyed it so much, we ate there twice. A hidden gem!
We had great experiences with all the staff (a tip of the hat to Noreen at the front desk for helping us find a nice room, and to the valets and bell hops), and the hotel offers beach towels, water and umbrellas at valet. You can stay on the grounds for your entire trip, but we did the road to Hana, and sunrise plus the Sliding Sands trail at Haleakala (both excursions involve rising at early hours to drive -- and hike -- in often precarious conditions, but well worth it).
Tips: The beach in front of the hotel is nice, but fast currents and drop-offs make it challenging for a less experienced swimmer, especially later in the day when the winds and tides pick up. Ka'anapali Beach -- as well as Big and Little Makena, a 15-minute drive south from the hotel -- have clear, shallow turquoise waters (Little Makena is a nudist beach, so be forewarned).
- 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