We spent one week on the Island of Maui and split our stay between two different hotels, so I will be writing about both the FAIRMONT KEA LANI RESORT & SPA and the MAKENA BEACH RESORT & SPA. I also went to tour a fairly new condominium property, the HONUA KAI RESORT in Lahaina.
We flew over on United non-stop from SFO and I must say that Economy Plus is very comfortable. It affords you the extra legroom and ability to move around a bit more than the regular coach section, yet doesn't cost you the big chunk of change to actually upgrade to Business of First Class. I am not a fan of the Mileage Plus upgrade program which requires you to spend both mileage and make a co-payment. Flight was pleasant and we watched a variety of shows we had on our computer and took much needed naps because as usual I was up late finishing up work, then packing before going to bed. The beauty about the 830am flight is that you arrive into Maui around 1130am and you don't feel as though you've lost that much of your vacation time.
We rented our vehicle with Hertz and I will say after years of usually booking the cheapest car rental company, the last year or so we have exclusively rented with Hertz for our travels and there is a definite difference. They are the leaders in the car rental industry with the nicest fleet, great service and wonderful options for their Hertz Gold members. Recently, they made a change to the Hertz Gold program and it is free to join, so everyone should be a member! Upon arrival, the Gold board told us which stall we were to find our car (of course, I had already received an email with this same information while getting our baggage), we had reserved a mid-size convertible which would usually be something like a Chrysler Sebring - we were pleasantly surprised to have been upgraded to a Convertible Mustang- the next convertible class of cars up. Packed our bags into the car and we were on our way- TOPLESS of course! What's the point of renting a convertible if you're going to leave the top up!
On our way to Wailea, which is normally about a 35 minute drive from the Kahului airport we stopped in Kihei at the Safeway to pick up a few essentials. We weren't staying in a condo with full kitchen, but we knew we'd have mini-fridges and a microwave at our first stop. This saved us a ton of money particularly for breakfasts- we were able to get our favorite foods: yogurt, cottage cheese, apples, bananas, grapes, cheese, crackers, case of bottled water and some wine. After our stop, we had a 15 minute ride down to the FAIRMONT KEA LANI.
Smooth arrival at the resort and our room was ready for us. I actually had an email when we landed from the hotel saying that our room was ready- relatively early for check-in standards of 3pm. We were warmly greeted with a glass of juice and a fresh flower lei for myself and the masculine beaded lei for Bill. Check-in was a breeze and we were soon escorted up to our room, #422. The Fairmont Kea Lani is an all-suite resort and all face the ocean; however, the lower floors would have more of a resort view. We were on the 4th floor and had a full on Ocean View and it was gorgeous! Very nice size bedroom and attached living room, with doors that close them off and a HUGE bathroom with a large walk in shower, big deep soaking tub, two pedestal sinks and a separate "toilet closet". We were never in each other's way in this bathroom. In fact, we could probably have line danced in this bathroom, truth be told. The Lanai was also HUGE, with entry doors from both the living room and the bedroom, furnished with a round table and 4 chairs and one chaise lounge. The kitchenette was equipped with a microwave, Keurig single cup hot beverage brewing machine, a mini-fridge, assorted coffees and teas, two wine glasses, two coffee mugs and throughout the suite several short glasses. There was a roll of paper towels and we had asked housekeeping to bring us two sets of silverware and plates so that we had what we needed to eat the food we brought. inside the bedroom were two separate closets- not super big, but definitely large enough for one person and in the entryway was another closet with a large safe (laptop friendly, but my laptop is pretty large so I had to angle it in and out carefully). The closet was also equipped with an ironing board and iron. You really did not want for anything else, they have thought of everything. Each night with turndown service, they would leave two bottles of water by our bedside. I'm not sure if this is normal or if they picked up that we had water by our bedsides already- we missed turndown the first night because we had the "do not disturb" sign out.
I would also like to mention that the Fairmont Kea Lani has villas. I was unable to see these during my stay as they were booked up with two conventions on site, but I have seen plenty of pictures of them and know that they are very beautiful units and they are the closest to the ocean in location.
The grounds of the Kea Lani are beautiful, it's a bit of a walk down to the beach but the beach is well worth the small walk downhill and the resort has 3 pools with one of them being "adult only". There is also pretty expansive lawn areas throughout the property and never a shortage of lounge chairs. The pool staff was always very happy to assist with towels and getting your chair set up and they never rationed the towels. Food & Beverage service around the pool areas was also very good.
Dining at the Kea Lani is limited to 5 choices. You have your poolside grill where there is sit-down service available, this is also where your food comes from if you order from your poolside chair. Typical fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, quesadilla, chips/dip, sashimi, chicken sandwiches, ahi sandwiches, etc. We did dine in the sit down section for lunch after our arrival and then ordered poolside the next two days. Never any complaints with the food or beverages from this venue. We dined one night at Nick's Fishmarket which is obviously a seafood restaurant, but several choices for the non-fish eaters like myself. This is easily a 5 star restaurant and both the services and prices dictate so. Service was amazing. My water glass never got any lower than 1/3 before it was being refilled again and it sort of became my "game" to see just how fast the waiter would be back with his pitcher. We had a "team' of wait staff that worked with several tables, so it was really a top notch experience. We ordered a bottle of wine off of their VERY expansive list, they had several hundreds of options and our booth was located right next to the very impressive wine cellar. I had the New York Steak and Bill had one of the highly recommended fish entrees. He also had their chowder soup which had a variety of seafood in it and he said it was probably the best soup he's ever had. The bread and butter was also very good and unique with its flavors. Dessert was also very delicious with a shared cheesecake, new York style topped with chocolate sauce and berries. The other restaurant on property is "Ko"- an Asian fusion restaurant and unfortunately we did not get a chance to dine in this restaurant. Finally, room service is available and we did order dinner off the room service one evening and dined out on our Lanai. We ordered pizzas which were very good. The set up the outdoor dining table with white linens and we enjoyed a peaceful, romantic night listening to the ocean. There is also a cafe/mini-mart where you can get coffee and baked goods or a light sandwich snack during the day- we never dined at this venue either.
Additional services at Kea Lani would be a full service beach shack where you can rent various equipment for use in the water (snorkel gear, boogie boards,etc.), they offer Yoga each morning at 8am and I was able to get up and attend one morning. The instructor has been teaching Yoga at the Kea Lani for 13 years, pretty incredible and it is so lovely to practice yoga outside in such a beautiful surrounding. There is also a pretty decent sized gym facility. They also have a full spa with all the services you would want. Another complimentary feature of Kea Lani is their outrigger canoe experience, which operates Monday-Friday and they usually have 4 time slots starting at 7am. This is a very unique and FREE experience where you and 3 other guests go out in a canoe with two locals. We signed up for this, but unfortunately it was sold out and our waitlist never cleared.
One of my favorite features of the Kea Lani and actually it could be said of all the hotels and condos that front the Wailea beach area and that is the Wailea Beach path for walking or jogging. The path starts (or finishes) at the Kea Lani and stretches all the way up to what will be the new Andaz resort slated to open later this year. The roundtrip path is approximately 3.5 miles. I did a bit of zig zagging where there were trees to go around and added on a bit more through the backside of Kea Lani around to the front of the hotel to get to my desired 4 mile marker. It's a beautiful path and filled with so many other health conscious vacationers I walked this path almost every day while in the area.
The one day that I didn't do my 4 mile walk, I did walk back from the GRAND WAILEA RESORT & SPA after enjoying a beautiful spa gift. I was treated to an hour of the Therme baths and an hour massage. I could have stayed there all day if I didn't have a husband waiting for me, the spa is absolutely beautiful and I have stayed at this resort several years ago- the hotel does not disappoint either.
Something to note, join the Fairmont President's Club prior to staying at any Fairmont property- it is free to join and you get a variety of perks with membership, but that most valuable one in my opinion is free Wi-Fi internet.
THE MAKENA BEACH RESORT & SPA was home for our last 3 nights. ***update- Makena Beach Resort has closed as of July 2016**** This resort is located about 5 minutes down the road from the Kea Lani, so suffice it to say that packing and unpacking took more time than it did to actually go from one resort to the other. We arrived around 1115am because we wanted to try out their famous Sunday Brunch which is said to be one of the best brunches on the Island. We were also meeting a friend of Bill's who lives on Maui. Our room was not ready, but the bell desk stored our bags and put our food items in their refrigerator for safe keeping and we proceeded to Brunch at the Molokini Terrace Bar & Grill which is the main dining venue for dinner and this Sunday Brunch. It did not disappoint. The champagne was flowing freely, there was nice live music being played and the food spread was very expansive with a variety of sushi items, carving stations, omelet station, desserts galore and many other dishes. We really enjoyed ourselves.
After Brunch, our room still was not ready but they let us look at the two room choices to see which we'd prefer and put a rush to having it cleaned up - we decided to spend this time walking around the resort to check things out. In the atrium of the hotel there is a beautiful Japanese garden with waterfalls, plenty of koi fish, it's a very relaxing part of the resort and could be a very nice meditating place. We stumbled upon another restaurant which we learned was primarily open for breakfast, it is located just alongside the Japanese Garden Atrium. There is a cafe off the main lobby where you can purchase coffees and light breakfast or lunch items and they are open well into the evening hours, brewing Starbucks. A gift shop and the gym round off the offerings just located off the main lobby area. The gym was sufficient with a few elliptical trainers, several treadmills, two bikes, one stair climber and then a variety of weight lifting machines and dumbbells.
The pool area is pretty small and offers one large round pool with a 6 foot depth throughout and then a kids wading pool that looked to be about 2 feet deep, but I never got close enough to check it out. Seemed to have plenty of pool chairs available and there is a poolside bar and grill with a wood pizza oven that is relatively new. The beach is just about a 20 foot walk away from the pool, but because of the hedges you really don't see the ocean from the pool area at all, so it's not quite my cup of tea. I am not much of a beach person, but I do love to see the ocean and love to hear the ocean from the pool. We did have poolside beverages, but never ordered any food from the grill.
The "spa" seems to be a hut out by the beach. I never came across an actual spa, but perhaps I was missing that. Although we did walk around the resort quite a bit and didn't see anything official. They also have the beach services hut where you can rent various pieces of equipment for water use. Everyone was very pleasant and friendly and helpful around the pool area.
Room Service is available and Bill ordered breakfast one morning once he ran out of his cottage cheese option. It was all very good and service was quick and the meal was hot. The final dining venue at Makena is the Cafe on the Green. This is located atop the hill overlooking the golf course and the ocean off in the distance. They are open for lunch and evening happy hour with appetizers and beverages. We had a very late lunch, ok it was probably more a very early dinner on our last night and although we got there around 445pm the lunch menu was no longer being offered and we had to order off of the happy hour menu- which was a bit more limited, but it worked out just fine. We had great service and closed the place down around 7pm and headed back to our room. It would be an excellent place to watch the sun set; however, we had a post-storm cloudy sky that evening...no sunset.
The rooms at Makena are decent size. They are your typical hotel room with a sitting area, small desk, king size bed and then the bathroom/closet area were separated away from the bedroom. Mini-fridge and large safe (this was large enough for my laptop to slide right in without any special maneuvers), which were both located under the "wet bar" area. They provided 2 wine glasses, 2 coffee mugs, coffee maker, assortment of coffee/tea and 2 "to go" coffee cups. The Lanai was average size and we had an Ocean View room, but by my standards I would consider it to be a partial ocean view room because if you looked straight out we viewed the golf course and the lawn area. You really had to angle yourself towards the ocean to get the ocean view. We also had view of the pool, which was helpful to see if the chairs were filling up.
I did miss my beach front walking path while we were at Makena, but we did go for a walk through the neighborhood, which included part of the resort grounds, the highway to the resort and some other residential areas. It was a nice walk and we put in just over 4 miles, but it was not a walk that I would feel comfortable doing by myself as some areas were pretty deserted, which is why I opted for the gym on our last morning- Bill wasn't getting up as early as I was.
This resort was a very quiet place and there really wasn't any entertainment offered other than the Molokini Terrace Bar in the evening hours and we seemed to miss that most nights. Staff was very friendly and attentive and our stay was very nice. Makena Beach Resort reminds me of the type of resort where the same people meet at the same time year after year and the waiters remember you, etc. It's a resort that has a big family feel.
During our stay we took a drive into Lahaina one afternoon to meet up with the Reservation Manager at the HONUA KAI RESORT. This condo resort opened up 4 years ago and is located in Lahaina, outside of the main downtown area. It is beach front and offers accommodations from studios to 3 bedroom suites. I was fortunate to view all 4 sizes of rooms and have to say that these units were so wonderfully built and decorated. You either have a Mountain View, Resort View or Ocean View- again with the Resort view being the lower level rooms. These units are equipped with top of the line stainless steel appliances, stacked washer/dryers, granite counters, starter kits with your washing essentials (detergent, etc.)- really very nicely appointed condo units. The 3 Bedroom Presidential Suite is AMAZING! All three bedrooms come with a king bed and the living room can sleep 2 people, so a total of 8 people would be accommodated in this unit. It's not often that you can find condos where the second bedroom has a large bed vs. two twins. They can with notice put in two twins in the second bedroom, but standard bedding is the King in all bedrooms. This will be a top recommendation for clients who are traveling with another couple, nobody has to draw straws for the room with the twin beds! The resort has 3 pools with one of them being the "quiet adult pool", the grounds are very easily laid out and very comfortable. They were close to full occupancy when we visited and it never felt crowded. This is a beachfront condo, so the beach is right there to access and they have one restaurant on site- Duke's Beach House. Since our tour was late afternoon, we stayed on property for dinner and Duke's and had a wonderful meal, a fabulous Hula Pie for dessert and watched a gorgeous orange sunset along Kaanapali Beach. Service was excellent and everyone is just so friendly. You are treated like Ohana when you are in Hawaii on any of the islands.
The resort has a gym facility and while it is still a growing resort- they plan to add a spa sometime this year and another restaurant. There are also plans for townhomes behind the condos, but not sure if those will be rentals or for local residences. Those plans are still a few years to come.
We spent most of our time relaxing and enjoying our resorts. However, we did venture out a little bit. It is Whale Watching season from January-March in Maui and of all the Hawaiian Islands, Maui gets the most whale activity. We could see a lot of whales from our resort lanai and walking along the beach path, but we really wanted to get out there on a boat. I booked our Whale Watching Excursion with Hawaii Active (PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT TO PREBOOK ANY ACTIVITIES, I'D BE HAPPY TO PRE-BOOK THESE FOR YOU!), the excursion was operated by the Pacific Whale Foundation and they really did a great job of getting us out there to view multiple groups of active whales and they provided wonderful knowledge about the whales and their annual migration. I would highly recommend this activity. Since we did the 430pm sailing, once we came back it was dinner time, so we decided to eat there at the Maa'lea Harbor at a place called The Waterfront. We had a nice table that overlooked the harbor and the ambiance of the restaurant was very inviting. Service was good and the food was excellent. It's always nice to stumble upon a place not knowing if it will be good and have such a pleasant experience.
We walked around downtown Lahaina on Front Street one evening and did a little bit of shopping, We would have liked to stick around for nightlife, but it was still quite early and nightlife doesn't get started until 10pm or so. Overall, a very nice vacation. One of my favorite parts of this trip was falling asleep and waking up each day to the sound of the ocean crashing against the shore. We slept with our Lanai doors open every night and it was wonderful!
Just can't beat a Maui Sunset.....absolutely mesmorizing....