Maui’s Wailea resort area has a lot of options—including a lot of luxury choices—and it’s easy to get lost in comparing the various pieces of paradise. But on our recent trip to the Valley Isle, the true highlight was our time at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, a 15-acre resort on a stunning patch of beach, with the island of Kaho’olawe gracing the horizon.
The resort, with 301 guestrooms and suites, includes 11 two-, three-, and four-room luxury villas—which have proved so popular that the property is busy constructing almost 20 more. Colors throughout are warm and neutral, with Hawaiian prints providing some splashes of color, as well as local flavor.
Our guestroom was incredible, with an ocean (and pool!) view from the private lanai. We loved the open feel of the bathroom, which included one of the largest showers I’ve ever experienced at a resort. Shutters behind the bed’s headboard can open, allowing whoever’s in the shower to be able to look out at the room—or even outside at the ocean, if desired. The tropical-scented Maile body products were invigorating.
Little touches were appreciated, too. The wall-mounted flat-screen TV was attached to a long pivoting arm that allowed for orientation toward any part of the room. Colas, juices and snacks in the minibar were complimentary and refreshed daily. (I quickly became addicted to the Maui Brewing Company root beer!)
While there are plenty of superfood options in and around Wailea, the Andaz’s five dining outlets hold their own and are worth checking out. Lehua Lounge is great for lunch, and the lobster grilled cheese is a must-try! The tropical drink selection here is fun and creative, too. The breakfast buffet at Ka’ana Kitchen is a step above what you’d expect at a resort, with tons of fresh and flavorful options. There’s also a market with light fare offered 24 hours, a beach bar and Morimoto, a full-service restaurant that combines Japanese and Hawaiian cuisines.
I spoke with TJ Hahn, the resort’s Marketing and Lu’au Coordinator, and he explained that the resort is popular with couples, but also sees a bit more of a family influx during spring break and summer. The resort’s popular lu’au, “The Feast at Mokapu,” is held on Sundays and Tuesdays and features its own lawn space with a permanently raised area for the stage.
Hahn also raved about the resort’s pop up areas, which are located near the meeting rooms. Contracts are generally signed for a year or so and allow local artists or businesspeople to put up a semi-permanent business location. During our stay, we chatted with the husband-and-wife owners of Jaxsea & Billy Aloha, a great pop up clothing store with a very fashionable tropical vibe. Check out the Welzie shop, run by an Oahu artist who crafts resin designs inspired by surfing and the ocean. His artwork can be seen in common areas of the resort, as well.
The resort fee covers a lot here, including hula lessons, ukulele lessons, guided kayak tours, a 30-minute outrigger canoe excursion, a mixology class, unlimited use of snorkel equipment and a 45-minute beach portrait session from Pacific Dream Photography, which has a studio right near the lobby (the session also includes a $50 credit toward any photos purchased).
We made the most out of all of this—we had a great experience on the outrigger canoe and went snorkeling multiple times. The reef right off the Andaz is one of the best on Maui, and I had an unforgettable encounter with a sea turtle, which swam right up to me. Our photo session with Pacific Dream was really fun and easy, and the photos came back better than we could have imagined.
What I loved about the Andaz was its casual, laid back luxury. There was plenty to do if you wanted an active vacation, or if you simply wanted to sit poolside or beachside and sip on a fruity drink, that was a perfect option, too. And that’s a pretty good description of paradise in my book.
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