In order to ease our transition back to civilization following a week aboard the Safari Explorer, I sought a post-cruise stay at a luxury hideaway, somewhere removed from the crowds and with memorable views of the Pacific. The freshly renovated Hotel Wailea on Maui appeared to have the requisite qualities.
This 72-suite property stands on a hillside above one of my longtime Maui recommendations, the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea. The Four Seasons is much larger, with 380 rooms, and has the advantage of being right on the beach, whereas the Hotel Wailea is five minutes away via a complimentary SUV transfer. (Both hotels have dedicated beach clubs.) Those willing to forgo doorstep access to the sands will find a refreshing tranquility at the Hotel Wailea, which is set amid 15 acres of mature tropical gardens.
The key to happiness is reserving an Ocean View Suite. The Partial Ocean View and Garden View suites have the same spacious 720-square-foot layout, but they lack the unobstructed panoramas. (Suites with ocean views cost far less than similar accommodations at the Four Seasons.) Accommodations occupy 18 four-suite villas distributed around the gardens; Ocean View Suites on the upper floors have the most favorable aspect. Buildings 2, 3 and 5 enjoy the best location, facing a large pond as well as the ocean. Our suite was on the ground floor of Building 7, with a patio instead of a balcony, but its views still proved to be sensational. The patio’s love seat and wicker-framed armchairs were perfectly situated for watching the sun disappear next to the neighboring islands of Molokini and Kaho’olawe.
Inside, our suite proved equally appealing. The large living room had oak plank floors, a sectional sofa, wicker armchairs facing a long wood desk and a kitchen wall with a refrigerator, Nespresso machine and sink with granite countertop. Pocket doors opened to the bedroom and its comfortable king bed. In the bath, a deep plinth-shaped tub stood next to a broad shower space clad in fossilized coral stone, with all reflected in the mirrored sliding doors of the closet. The wide single vanity, backed by a wall of travertine tile, had bright and well-placed lighting. Accent pillows and framed kapa cloths with abstract red patterns enlivened an otherwise neutral color palette of cream, biscuit and chocolate.
Service never failed to be warm, from the moment we handed our keys to the complimentary valet and checked in at the impressive koa wood front desk. Staffers there had attractive tote bags with towels and bottled water at the ready when we decided to head to the beach; and when we opted to return, a driver picked us up within minutes of our call. At the unusually named restaurant Capische?, the waitstaff was also friendly and efficient, though the food was not as sophisticated as I had expected from a Relais & Chateaux hotel. My appetizer of quail saltimbocca would not have passed muster in Italy, and both it and my main course of crispy-skinned roasted snapper with winter squash tortelloni and chestnut-bourbon butter were flavorful but unrelievedly brown in color. Nevertheless, the view from the restaurant’s lanai was inspiring, both at sunset and at breakfast. If you plan to dine after sunset, opt instead for the garden patio, festooned with strings of lights.
Unfortunately, the swimming pool has no view and overlooks the indoor-outdoor fitness center and the stylish indoor-outdoor lobby lounge. We enjoyed the pool nevertheless, because the cabanas lining it required no reservations or additional fees, and because there was little competition for shady lounge chairs. The property has no spa, but therapists perform a range of treatments in guest suites.
The Hotel Wailea won’t satisfy those who prefer to walk from their rooms to the beach, but for travelers in search of a tranquil and plush retreat, and one less than an hour from Maui’s airport, the property is an ideal choice.
The peaceful location; the sweeping views; the uncrowded pool; the romantic restaurant.
The lack of doorstep beach access.
Nearby Wailea Wine (161 Wailea Ike Place) has a fine selection, including local wines and spirits, ideal for a toast on your patio or balcony.