A Close Look at Grand Wailea Resort’s Quintessential Maui Luxury
Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea Resort
Tucked away at the southern tip of Maui in the affluent area of Wailea, the Grand Wailea Resort sits adjacent to big name five-star hotels and fancy condominiums, like the Four Seasons Maui, the Andaz Maui and the Fairmont Kea Lani. Although it is “only” a four-star property itself, the Grand’s place among these top-of-the-line properties is not undeserved. It comes highly decorated with awards that include “Best Luxury Resort” from Hawaii Magazine and was ranked as one of the “World’s Best Family Hotels” by Travel and Leisure, and the beauty of its tropical property rivals any in Wailea. Come now as we take a walk through the property and reveal what you can expect from a stay at the Grand Wailea.
The beauty of the Grand’s 40-acre property, bursting with lush gardens and unabated ocean views, will no doubt dominate your first impressions. From fruit trees to towering palms to colorful flowers, no vantage point is without nature’s influence.
But the Grand’s lobby and atrium gives the natural setting a run for its money with an indoor/outdoor design that breeds modern luxury with Hawaiian tradition. Brimming with koi ponds, native colors, Polynesian statues and views of the bright blue sky; the lobby puts the “Grand” in “Grand Wailea.” From the here, which is the 4th floor of the main building, you can look down upon the rest of the property in all its glory. (My only criticism of the lobby is that they offer apples to guests, a fruit that is not grown on the island).
Incorporated amongst the gardens and greenery of the property is 25,700 square feet of pools, including the adult-only Hibiscus Pool and the gigantic Wailea Canyon Activity Pool. The latter, built for families, breaks down into a series of four smaller pools with four slides, six waterfalls and three hot tubs.
The Grand has a beautiful beach right out in front of its property, set in a cove with reefs just off shore. Farther out, you can see the western part of Maui, as well as the small island of Molokini. Along the coast, you’ll find a walking path that hugs the shore, taking you up and over the rocky coastline and past well-groomed private residences.
The Grand Wailea is by no means a small resort, offering more than 700 rooms of all shapes and sizes. It is laid out like an “X,” with a center mass known as the Napau Tower and four legs — or wings — extending out from it. To understand this better, check out the map.
My favorite rooms were found in the Chapel Wing due to their large balconies and location closer to the ocean, in front of the high-rise towers on the backend of the property. This allows for quick access to both the ocean and the lobby — a five-minute walk — as compared to some top-floor, main-building rooms that can feel like a half day’s journey to get down to the water. The Lagoon Wing also shares these qualities, although its views are partially blocked by trees.
For the past year, the Grand has been updating and refreshing its rooms. All of the standard rooms and the Napua Tower rooms are finished, and the suites are expected to be completed by the end of 2015. All rooms will get new wicker furniture, updated electronics, fresh artwork and a ceramic tile/carpet flooring combination. The color story for the room has been derived from the island of Maui and its surroundings, including green (lush landscape), brown and gold (Haleakala Crater) and coral (reefs).
The Grand Wailea boasts a phenomenal food and beverage program thanks to Executive Chef Michael Lofaro, who also shares a larger role in Hawaii’s culinary scene via his television show, “Search Hawaii,” in which he goes foraging both on land and in the sea to prepare meals that reflect traditional Hawaiian roots. This concept is brought to life once a month at the Grand’s Ka Malama Dinner, a four-course meal foraged for and prepared by Chef Lofaro alongside Hawaiian Cultural Ambassador Kainoa Horcajo (who is also on the “Search Hawaii” show).
The Grand’s flagship restaurant, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, named for the Hawaii state fish, lets you enjoy Chef Lofaro’s Hawaiian creations, like hand-caught lobster or local Opakapaka, under a thatch roof and with a front row seat for the sunset. More casual dishes, like Kalua Pork Flatbread and fish tacos, are served at Bistro Molokini. The sandwiches and salads at the poolside Volcano Bar are your best bet for lunch, and breakfast is served in the Grand Dining Room, located on the third floor of the main building below the lobby.
The dining room has a remarkable view of the property and the ocean, but I recommend bypassing the breakfast buffet, overpriced at $36 per person, for a more reasonable, better tasting a la-carte entree, such as pineapple pancakes or a Hawaiian omelet.
For drinks, be sure to have one at the Botero Bar, which features nightly live music and allows you to take in the ambiance of the lobby/atrium in all its glory.
Spa and Activities
The spa and fitness center at the Grand Wailea is currently being refreshed as part of the ongoing renovations throughout the property. The new spa is set to be unveiled in 2016.
Horcajo runs a variety of on-property activities that incorporate Hawaiian culture and tradition. Be sure to join him for a traditional Hawaiian sunrise ceremony or a cultural tour. If you’re looking for something active, practicing yoga on a paddleboard in the ocean at the front of the hotel is a great way to start the day. Or, to blend culture and activity, try a Hawaiian Outrigger canoe ride.
La Perouse Bay, created the last time Haleakala’s lava reached the sea about 900,000 years ago, is a great area to explore and just a 15-minute drive from the Grand Wailea. If you’re keen on beach dwelling but would like a change of scenery, check out nearby One’uli Black Sand Beach (ask for directions at the front desk). The hotel can also help with access to nearby golf courses.
More by Will McGough
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