Hawaii - Hotel Review
Hawaiian Oceanfront Hospitality
By Ann Shepphird
There are many ways to experience the hospitality of Hawaii — from a simple beachside cottage to a luxury condominium in a bustling resort community. The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, located on the south shore of Maui, is for those who want all the bells and whistles an oceanfront luxury resort can offer. The resort's 40 acres include just about everything you can think of, from waterslides at the activity pool to hydrotherapy baths at the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande.
After completing a $50 million renovation project, The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort's design gives it a feeling of light and airiness — from the open-air lobby with its Botero sculptures to the guest rooms, which are focused out toward the Pacific Ocean and range in size from 640 to 5,500 square feet. The Napua Tower, in the center of the resort, offers club amenities such as breakfast and afternoon cocktails, in addition to its own concierge service, and recently completed a refurbishment of its guest rooms and lounge.
The resort's prime oceanfront location means guests have a choice of heading for the ocean or the pools when it's time to take that dip in the water. The ocean has a gentle swell, which makes for good bobbing (if not surfing) and the resort offers equipment for windsurfing or snorkeling.
But it's the pools that really set "the Grand" apart—they're so elaborate that people staying at the nearby Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea have been known to book a room here for the pool privileges. The centerpiece is the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool with its five waterslides, whitewater rapids, rope swing, water volleyball and the "world's first water elevator." The slides have the effect of making guests of just about any age feel like a kid again — you'll find as many adults as kids flying down them. Of course, the adults will most likely be inclined to hit the swim-up Grotto Bar while the kids head off to Camp Grand. The resort also offers a Scuba Diving Pool, for those who want to learn scuba, and the adults-only Hibiscus Pool, for travelers in need of peace and quiet.
The 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande is just that — grande. The Terme Wailea Hydrotherapy includes a Roman Tub, saunas, waterfalls, Swiss Jet Showers, a Japanese Furo and Hawaiian sea salt baths from Molokai. Between the baths and the complimentary loofah scrub, the effects of the spa are palpable before a treatment is ever had.
Dining options abound, including Humuhumunukunukuapuaa'a (or Humu Humu for short), the resort's signature seafood restaurant, situated over the water in a series of Polynesian-themed thatch-roof huts. More casual dining can be found in the main-building's Grand Dining Room, the open-air Bistro Molokini and Café Kula at the pool.
The layout of the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is such that, even with all its offerings, guest rooms and meeting space, it doesn't feel immense. There's still a sense of intimacy (even if walking from one end to the other can take some time). It isn't until you see the resort from the water that you can grasp just how big it is. For us, this happened after visiting the volcanic caves of the Kanaio Coast on a Blue Water Rafting trip (available from nearby Kihei). As we passed the south shore of Maui, the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort and its lushly landscaped 40 acres stood out with a grand presence befitting its name.