Experience the Andaz and the Fairmont in Wailea, along Maui’s Southern Coast
For the luxury traveler and families alike.
- Written byLinda Grasso
Wailea, along Maui’s southwestern coastline, attracts visitors who like “one-stop shopping” at hotels with full amenities, and families who want a place where kids and adults can dive into an array of activities. It’s such a self-contained world that most visitors never care to leave.
Wailea is also known for its pretty, soft-sand beaches free of rock and coral, and stunning views of the islands of Kaho’olawe and Lanai as well as the West Maui Mountains. Its five resorts are connected by a lushly landscaped, 1.6-mile oceanfront walkway, one of my favorite things about Wailea. It’s awesome for a brisk morning walk or jog, and ideal for an after-dinner stroll.
During our stay, we chose the Andaz and the Fairmont Kea Lani, which offer completely different experiences.
The lobby at the Andaz
From the moment a fragrant lei is placed around your neck and you walk by the lily pond to the open-air reception at the Andaz (andazmaui.com), employees make it crystal clear at check-in that they aim to please.
If you’re into modern, minimalist design, the Andaz, which is LEED Silver-certified, will strike a chord. Linens are high-end; everything feels crisp and new. Three infinity pools cascade down toward the ocean. One “tranquility” pool is adults-only, while a lagoon pool is great for kids.
The Ka’ana Kitchen restaurant, which features a lanai overlooking the water, offers a ridiculously impressive breakfast buffet including an array of exotic, perfectly ripe fruits. In a stroke of brilliance, a sheer scrim at the balcony’s edge keeps wild birds away.
Helmed by an award-winning native chef, Ka’ana is an especially attractive, bright space with plenty of ocean-view tables. I also enjoyed dinner there—melt-in-your-mouth seared scallops atop creamy risotto and a perfectly cooked New York strip steak.
Rounding out the dining options are Morimoto Maui, helmed by chef Maraharu Morimoto, known from the TV show Iron Chef; the more casual Lehua Lounge; a grab-and-go market and a beachfront bar with elegant eats.
The Apothecary Blending Experience add-on at the spa in which you get to custom blend your botanical massage oil and take it home after your treatment.
The décor, which avoids stereotypical Hawaiian kitsch. It is chic and updated, incorporating an authentic vibe.
The daily pop-up artisan shops set up in the lobby and throughout the hotel.
Not So Much
The combo bathroom/closet area feels cramped; open doors block walkways. One person getting dressed while another is showering isn’t exactly seamless.
Rooms on the lower floors can be noisy. Workers start prepping the pool area at dawn and guests toss towels on lounge chairs shortly thereafter (to “save” them). Advice: Request a room on an upper floor.
The main structure at Fairmont Kea Lani
Fairmont Kea Lani
Located at the south end of the Wailea coastline, the Fairmont Kea Lani (fairmont.com/kea-lani-maui) has a more secluded vibe. The white structure is Moorish in design, with Polynesian-inspired art and garden atriums. Although the Fairmont is a large, full-service resort (part of the Accor brand collection), they do a nice job of maintaining a relaxed, tropical vibe.
We signed up for the Inspire Your Energy package, which comes with an 860-square foot “wellness” suite that is decadently spacious and basically circular, creating a great floor plan for families. The foyer features a bar area and living room with a long curved sofa that folds out into a bed. The living room and bedroom both open to a generous balcony.
Beds have “sleep-enhancing” linens, a term I initially chuckled at, but the beds were crazy comfortable. As part of the package, you also get an array of full-sized skin care and aromatherapy products from the spa, a $250 resort credit, daily breakfast, and two treatments at the Willow Stream Spa, which does a nice job of blending locally sourced products, ancient Hawaiian traditions and state-of-the art technology. The spa package is a great option for those who are self-motivated. Fitness class offerings are slim on weekends.
For eats, we enjoyed Kō, which offers a fusion of Hawaiian, Pan Asian, Korean and Filipino cuisine. The local fish was among the freshest I’ve ever tasted. We also enjoyed the mahi-mahi that arrives with a hot stone used to sear your own fish. The Fairmont also has upscale seafood and casual poolside restaurants as well as a shop/bakery/deli.
The adults-only pool is in the resort’s center; a gigantic main pool has a waterslide and a shallow splash pool for the younger set. Guests can borrow or rent various pool toys, and sign up for scuba lessons and the like—as well as the popular outrigger canoeing experience.
Sear-it-yourself mahi-mahi entrée at Kō
Spacious suites allow you to really spread out. I could have hosted a luncheon in the bathroom, which includes a soaking tub, walk-in shower, dual pedestal sinks and a separate toilet closet.
The balcony has sliding screens so you can sleep with the sound of the waves and the cool ocean breeze. It also has a table and lounge chairs—great for morning coffee or a sunset glass of wine.
Not So Much
Breakfast at Kea Lani Restaurant—mobs of people in long lines and wild birds feasting on unattended plates.
Not all the pool chairs have cushioned coverings—just plain mesh.
The adults-only pool at the Fairmont
Wailea has three championship golf courses (waileagolf.com). My husband, an avid, 10-handicap golfer, played the Gold Course and reported that it was challenging. In classic golfspeak, he described it as “undulating, and the holes are fairly long.” Interspersed with patches of lava rock and with impressive views, the Gold Course delivered an aesthetically pleasing experience—despite his shooting an 87.
Rent a car (Enterprise outpost at the Andaz) and drive 45 minutes north to Pā’ia. The low-key town with its hippie-chic vibe offers a real sense of island culture. Have lunch at Flat Bread or Café des Amis and then drive a few miles north to watch the showstopping athletes at Ho‘okipa, one of the most renowned windsurfing/kiteboarding sites in the world.
Back in Wailea, hit the casual eatery Monkeypod, where you’ll find families as well as 20-somethings enjoying live music. Don’t expect “off-campus” prices, though; our grilled fish entrées were priced at almost 50 bucks apiece.
The food is only part of the charm.