Flying to Hawaii will take you some time. We have always used Delta because we have their credit card and use points a LOT. Delta flights tend to stop in LAX for a layover… and by the time you arrive in Los Angeles, you will likely be ready for a little break. We sat separately on this first leg of the flight. I was lucky enough to sit next to a very entertaining, bisexual, aspiring actor. He kept me laughing the whole way with tales of boys and girls, and run-ins with A-list actors, like Meryl Streep. My partner was not so lucky, and sat next to a woman who seemed petrified, as though it was her first time flying, until she mentioned, “…last time I was in Maui!”
When we gladly reunited in LAX, we were in the same area of the airport as we have been every time we have headed to Hawaii. There are several decent (for an airport) restaurants here, and this time we chose the one called “Skewers.” We sat in a booth and people watched while enjoying shrimp teriyaki and chicken curry skewers. Why haven’t we made these at home?? So easy, so Paleo, and so delicious!
The next leg of the flight, not only were we seated together, but we had an empty seat between us! Lots of room. YAY! I once met a man who traveled all the time for business who always booked two seats next to each other in economy. He said it was a better deal than first class and he would sometimes have the spare ticket as a bargaining chip on an overbooked flight. Brilliant!
5.5 hours till we get to Maui, and yes, I am excited. The views from the window are glorious. Maybe I can capture this moment?
When we got to Maui we were exhausted! It was 2 or 3 am Atlanta time, the time when normally we would usually be turning in. The hula dancers in the baggage claim area were neat and festive.
Although it was only 8:30 pm it felt like 1 am. Maui is such a sleepy place. The Starbucks right by our baggage carousel looked tempting, but we decided on a large bottle of Fiji and some sleep tonight. 🙂 We would later come to regret that decision.
We rented our reserved two-door jeep after a fairly long line at Thrifty/Budget (same line for two different companies) and finally, we were off. Two-door jeeps are tiny inside so only get one if there are just two of you! Time to find the hotel… Thankfully my partner remembered driving around Maui last time so I could just relax on the way to the hotel.
Getting to Wailea from the airport is really easy thanks to many well marked signs. It takes about 25 minutes or so and it is about 14 miles. You would think it was well past midnight, on a Sunday night, by the lack of traffic, and the very SLOW speed which everyone was driving.
The GPS brought us to the hotel and we walked into a very James Bond looking lobby. Red ginger submerged in simple tall vases, carved wooden totems, and lily pads. We were beyond exhausted and listened impatiently to the front desk’s tips. When he finally finished, we asked about room service. We were flabbergasted to learn that unfortunately it had ended 10 min ago. What?!? It was barely 10 after 9! He told us there were a couple restaurants nearby. The last thing we felt like doing was driving; in fact we were so tired it wouldn’t have been safe to drive, so we just went to the room.
I have to tell you, Hotel Goddess was not thrilled. Hotels, by definition should have certain things… one being room service, preferably 24 hours …even if it’s a very limited menu. Another thing missing here was a mini bar. If we had gotten to the room, which was gorgeous and more like a condo really, and we found the loaded mini bar typically found in a 4-star hotel, I would have been happier. I would have had some chips and called it a day. What we found was a great kitchen area and a couple of free bottles of water. There was ice in the freezer which looked fresh (admittedly, a nice touch), but not so much as a bag of chips. Oh where was the fresh baked banana bread that my beloved Royal Hawaiian leaves in the rooms??
The room: I had seen online that this hotel had recently undergone a 15 million dollar renovation, and the room, which is a 900 square foot suite, was well decorated and equipped. The wood floors and stone countertops and contemporary furnishings all made us feel like we had rented a very nice apartment. The dwellings exist in 2-story buildings with 4 apartments each. We had experienced this same style in Mexico at the Fairmont Mayakoba, in their casitas, and I loved it there. Here… well, without the free bikes to get around and 24 hour room service, it just wasn’t feeling like a hotel.
Worse, if I were to stay in an apartment or condo, I would hope to be able to drive up and park near the door. Here, there was valet, and then golf carts, which they would use to drive you to the room. Lots of staff for valet. Perhaps Hotel Wailea should use some of them to run and get food orders from local restaurants when weary travelers from many different time zones show up hungry? Or at least do the business hotel thing of pre-made salads and sandwiches and yogurts etc. in the lobby! Surely we weren’t the first guests to arrive “after hours” who needed some nourishment. When we got into bed, I was pleased with the pillows and linens, and the ceiling fan; the quiet AC, along with severe jet lag, made falling asleep easy.
We had booked a room with a partial ocean view. But the room we recevied was on the ground floor. It was dark when we arrived, so I was looking forward to seeing the view in the morning. Daybreak came and: NO View… Just call this a garden room! I think they need to reclassify these rooms. If it had been on the upper level, we would have had a partial ocean view. This was not it. I called to ask where the view was, and the front desk manager said they were completely booked, but she would remove the $25 resort fee. Whatever. I hardly think $25 makes up for a garden view when you book a partial ocean view, or the difference in price between the two rooms.
Another strange thing: I had called a few weeks beforehand and mentioned that it was my partner’s birthday. Why had Christy, the manager, not ensured that we got at least the room we booked? Not a card, or flowers to mention his birthday either! Any nicer hotel does a little something. The Fairmont does an amazing job, as does the Ritz. This place is certainly neither of those. Let’s be honest… it isn’t even a hotel! haha. Why is this condo using the word hotel? hmmm
Day one: we wandered around Maui, and had some fish tacos at Maui Tacos…a verage at best but we had to try the local chain after a girl at Starbucks recommended them. Side-note: The Marriott here looks spectacular! Never thought I would say that, but searching for Starbucks brought us there, and I was impressed.
When we returned to our room/apartment we had groceries. Walking from our car with these in the rain was I guess part of the experience? We decided to sit on the patio and watch the rain, and read and write a little. There were lots of birds to watch and we were enjoying the relaxation and rain. That is, until some other guests who were staying next to us (two couples to the room?!?) came back- with their dog (adorable) and baby (screaming, less adorable). Therefore, relaxing on the patio was out, so we decided to walk around the complex and see where these supposed “ocean views” resided, besides on the 2nd floor.
The property is well-landscaped, for a condo, but nothing compared to a fancy hotel. Fairmont?? Four Seasons?? 🙁 Am I just too spoiled? My partner said, “Frankly, when I saw the place, I couldn’t believe you picked it.” I said, “It was the tub.” He said, “Yes, it is really big.” We live in a loft with an old-fashioned 5′ tub, which is shallow… as well as short. I guess in Paris it would be luxurious, but in Atlanta, home of the ’30k Millionaire,’ my tub is not worthy! 😉
Did we end up using that tub? Nope. In spite of my Italian bubble-bath and bath salts, the tub didn’t tempt us in person… why? NO VIEW. A smaller tub with a view will get us every time. Mexico has us spoiled with large jacuzzi tubs and an ocean view… they are everywhere.
It has come to the end of our stay here as I write this. We were upgraded to an ocean view room for our last night. The ocean was across a semi-busy road and quite a ways away. It was beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the views from an average room at a beach-front hotel. If we had the best room in the place from the first night, would that have changed much? To be fair, very little. Being off the beach… not having a pool that overlooks the beach… well, I am trying to say something good about it for Maui’s sake… Here goes: You will definitely want to leave the “resort!” haha.
When I booked the room, the pool was still under construction so guests could use the pool at the Fairmont. When we checked in we were very specifically told we could NOT use the Fairmont’s pool. I was disappointed by this but figured their pool must be a good comparison. NO, NOT at all. It is small, and by the lobby. No view at all while sitting at the pool. There is a bar, and maybe a romantic dip for two at night would be fun? But who wants to be in Maui and not see a view? Every place has a gorgeous beachside pool..except here.
We left the resort as much as we could, and did buy some pre-made salads and veggies and dip. Still, we ordered the “room service” AKA restaurant take-out from Capiche (the restaurant that shares the condo resort’s lobby)… twice. Both nights they were out of something basic that we wanted. One time it was the tuna sashimi appetizer… YET they had and sent the $48 main course featuring tuna which we hadn’t ordered. The second time it was Maui’s famous Bikini Blonde beer. My partner said, “They open at 5:30 and its 5:38…why doesn’t one of them just go to the store, and get some?!?” So True. We were exhausted from driving around the island all day since 6 am, after making an early start since we knew we had to switch rooms that day. Hard to get comfortable, or unpack, when you know you will be moving… and harder when you just don’t like the place you picked to stay- because you realize it is not even a hotel. Sadness 🙁
Back to the restaurant food: It is VERY PRICEY. And comes in to-go boxes, with plastic cutlery! They need to, at very least, bring a tray and tablecloth, and put the food on plates! Or charge less. One or the other. There is nothing sexy about a $100 meal in to-go boxes… unless it’s by choice, otherwise, nah.
Would I stay in Maui again? Of course… and I would definitely get a jeep and do that amazing drive to Hana, and the even more incredible drive from Hana, the one you aren’t supposed to do!
All of Hawaii is incredible. Many hotels in Hawaii THRILL me. I would love to try one of the many I saw in Wailea: First I would pick the Fairmont, because I just love their hotels in general and the location looked very nice. I would also use my Marriott points at the surprisingly luxurious Hotel we saw just a few doors down. I am positive the Four Seasons is impeccable but pricey, as they always are worth the splurge. I heard that the Westin was wonderful from a close friend with very good taste, as I also heard the Grand Wailea was an excellent honeymoon spot. If I wanted to see Maui on the cheap, there appeared to be many condos that were nicer than the ones we stayed in (the misnamed Hotel Wailea) with large windows and Beachside pools and cozy loungers. Even the quaint Days Inn seemed really well located and right on the beach. It might not be bad, but I guess the room might be a bit scary… not sure if Hotel Goddess wants to check that one out. haha
Final thoughts: Hotel Wailea should be called Wailea Condominiums, and then every one who rented a room would get what they expected and be happy. They need to call garden view rooms that, and not partial ocean view. Their current prices are not low enough to compete with other condos really, even though the rooms are very well decorated in a tropical contemporary fashion, simply because of their location. (And honestly, I don’t really like condos…maybe it’s more of a family thing?) Driving a few miles to the beach just isn’t the same as walking out the door and strolling there. I have seen hotels who break this rule and get away with it, but then again, they are offering anything their guests need IN the rooms. This so-called hotel cannot compete with higher priced hotels, because they don’t have the large beachfront pool or other amenities, like paid movies or room-service. Romance equals: Breakfast in Bed, A movie and champagne, a hotel! Better options than this place: I would spend the tiny bit more to stay at the Westin, or a little bit more to stay at the Fairmont, or pretty much the same to stay at the shockingly nice Marriott, all day, any day!
If Hotel Goddess had to do it over again, she would have checked out of that over-hyped condo and into the Fairmont down the street. That IS what hotwire is for! Why did I endure? Because I wanted to believe I had found a great deal on a boutique hotel, and hated to admit it was a condo far from the beach….not even a basic hotel. Learn from my mistakes, please! So many amazing places that you will really love. Until next time, Mahalo.
PS, HINT: I did a better on the next leg of the trip, in Kauai 😉