Maui Travel Guide
Glenn Hanlon has been bartending in paradise at the Hyatt Regency Maui on Kaanapali Beach for 10 years – five of those stationed at the coolest bar along the famous Kaanapali Beach path: GrottoBar. Hidden between waterfalls in a cavern-like setting, it’s a day-drinker’s paradise offering a reprieve from the sun and an array of fruity frozen cocktails among choices like beer and wine.
We recently bellied up to the bar and spoke to Glenn about his ideal bartending gig and his thoughts on booze, hangover cures and how many drinks it takes to drown out the sound of a waterfall.
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Paia Inn Hotel
On Maui, most of the mega-resorts are concentrated in two areas: Wailea south of Kihei, and in Kapalau and Kaanapali north of Lahaina. This week, as we zoom around Maui, we've kept our eyes and ears open for some alternative places to set up shop, boutique properties outside of these main hotel zones that put visitors in small towns around the island. Here are a few to check out if you want to switch things up on your next trip to Maui:
Paia Inn Hotel
The Paia Inn is appropriately located right smack in the middle of downtown Paia, a small, T-shaped town that sports one of the more liberal and laid-back attitudes on Maui. The 11-room Paia Inn has been raved about for quite some time by the press, and it has also been enjoyed by many a guest. The Inn echos the town's vibe with bamboo floors and boldly-colored local paintings. Rates start at $199/night and includes free wifi, beach chairs, and boogie boards.
Yesterday, we gave you the Must-Stay Hotels for Wailea in Maui. Today, we're giving you a Must-Eat spot. Conveniently, it's in a hotel. Mahalo!
Chef Sheldon Simeon has done pretty well for himself after finishing in the top three of Season 10 of "Top Chef" and winning the "Fan Favorite" award. The Hawaiian native, who previously helmed Star Noodle in Maui not only opened his own restaurant, MiGRANT, at the Wailea Beach Marriott, he's also taken over the kitchen at the hotel's Mala restaurant.
So with the same chef overseeing both restaurants, what's the different? The Mala restaurant has a more formal restaurant set-up with a somewhat traditional menu while MiGRANT has a casual setting with a more creative menu. Ok. So which one should you choose? Allow us....
We stayed at the Marriott in May while celebrating a family member's big milestone, and when a dinner at Mala ended up being fraught with service issues, we were invited back to try it again, this time with Chef Simeon himself guiding us along his excellent culinary adventure.
The dishes that we had were a mixture of Mala and MiGRANT items but all were Simeon's creations, heavily influenced by local traditions and his own Filipino heritage. Here's what we sampled, and ultimately fell in love with:
Introducing our newest hotel guide--HotelChatter's Must Stay Hotels--where we pick four hotels for four different types of travelers in a particular neighborhood of one major city. We started with New York, then switched it up to Palm Springs and now we're doing Maui. This is also a seasonal guide so the options may change depending on when you're going. Got a question about where to stay and when? Email us.
Looking for a hotel in Wailea, on the island of Maui? You can troll online review sites, crowdsource on Facebook and comb through endless Best Hotels” lists but why do all that when we’ve done all the work for you already?
Here are four different hotels to try in the resort nabe of Wailea, located on Maui's southwest coast. Since most of you are visiting for leisure purposes, the categories have changed ever so slightly to include families and kick out biz travelers. We've also made a note of the resort fees. Another note: It's high season for Maui right now so if the rates look a little too high, try again later in the fall but before the holiday madness.
Stay tuned this week as we'll be profiling these hotels below and more!
There is no shortage of great places to eat in the Wailea resort zone of Maui, especially not with a Fairmont, a Four Seasons, and a Waldorf-Astoria lined up next to each other.
But skip a little further down past these resorts to the Andaz Maui and one of the best meals of your vacation will await you at Morimoto, the eponymous sushi restaurant from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The Andaz resort is pretty spectacular in itself, with about four different levels of public spaces, the first two which are pools and the second two which are restaurants, bars and lounge spaces. We'll have more on the Andaz and its rooms and spa shortly but today it's all about Morimoto.
The restaurant is located at the bottom of Andaz Maui, overlooking the main pool and the beach. This means it's easy to access from Wailea's Coastal Walk, which runs along the water and which everyone staying in Wailea uses everyday. There is both indoor and outdoor seating at the Morimoto but this is Maui, of course, you are going to sit outside. (That said, the inside is a lovely modern take on island decor.)
Now here's what we ordered when we popped in for lunch during our own vacation the other month:
There is definitely a market out there, especially when it comes to Hawaii, of people who simply want to pull up a chair on the beach and plop down for a week, with no interest whatsoever in exploration outside of the resort walls. Give them the ocean and the sand and a couple rum punches followed by a decent dinner, and they're happy little Hawaiian campers.
But what if you like the sound of the above, yet also consider yourself somewhat of an adventurous person - maybe not someone who will walk into any dive bar in any small town, but one who wants to venture off property during the day and return to a beautifully maintained resort to relax? Just because you enjoy staying at hotels doesn't mean you have to close yourself off completely to your surrounding environment, and we found the 72-room all suite Hotel Wailea in Maui to be a perfect example of the type of hotel the adventurous should be after.
Yesterday, Montage Hotels officially announced their plans to take over The Residences at Kapalua Bay in Maui. We had heard that Montage would be taking over the residential property but we weren't quite sure what the plans were for the hotel side of things. Well, now we know. Here's what they are planning:
The expansive resort, set atop the world-class, picturesque Kapalua Bay, will undergo a multi-million dollar improvement program beginning this fall, with plans including 56 Montage branded residences offered for sale and the introduction of a 50 room all-suite Montage hotel.
Those hotel suites will feature spacious living rooms, large private lanais, fully equipped kitchens, elegant master suites and luxurious bathrooms. Sounds like heaven.
Montage Hotels has already assumed management of the property yet it will continue to be known as The Residences at Kapalua Bay on an interim basis. As the spot gets closer to unveiling their 50 hotel suites, that's probably when a name change will happen. In the meantime, you can keep up with their hotel's new website here.
A Hawaiian vacation is notoriously expensive, especially at the tony resort town of Wailea in Maui. So when we heard about all the free amenities at the five-star Four Seasons Maui, we were impressed, but skeptical. Had they just built the cost of all their freebies into the hotel rate? And how do other Maui hotels rate in comparison? We broke down the amenities to analyze the savings, if any.
First, the Four Seasons Resort, which costs around $465 per night, doesn't charge a resort fee and tells their guests to “put away your wallet” and enjoy their extensive complimentary services and amenities.
Here's a sample of what they're giving away gratis:
· Fitness classes including Pilates mat class and yoga
·Internet access throughout resort
·Kids for All Seasons Club (5-12 years) 9am - 5 pm daily (nominal fee charged for lunch)
·One-hour use of snorkel equipment
·Cabanas at Fountain Pool and Waterfall Pool (limited inventory)
·Introductory scuba clinic twice daily
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With most of the culinary attention in the Hawaiian islands drawn to "Hawaii Regional Cuisine," we were fascinated to learn that Kō, the newly renovated signature restaurant at The Fairmont Kea Lani derives its flavorful dishes from humble beginnings--the food of the various ethnic groups that came to work Maui's sugar cane plantations.
The Hawaiian word Kō means sugar cane, a large un-branched grass brought to the islands by the early Polynesian settlers, later hybridized to increase variety and yield and forming at one time Hawaii's largest industry. Native Hawaiians for the most part did not work the cane fields. So the Portuguese were sent from the Azores, the Chinese, Japanese and later Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and Koreans came.
Everyday in the midday sun they'd break for lunch, sometimes sharing a dish and teaching the other nationality about a new vegetable or method of preparation.
Fa la la la, we've got some concrete proof that the Andaz Hotel brand is coming to paradise aka Wailea, Maui, thanks to this traditional Hawaiian Blessing ceremony photo op from Wednesday. And there's another little surprise in our hotel news stocking as the Andaz Wailea Resort and Residences will open in the Spring of 2013, not 2014 as we first heard.
The hotel will have 255-rooms, 35 suites and 19 villas located along Mokapu Beach which is a little bit further north from the Grand Wailea-Four Seasons-Marriott hotel cluster that most people frequent in Wailea.
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The Grand Wailea Resort in Maui is having quite the turbulent February. First, it filed bankruptcy and was bought by new owners, despite its almost $2 billion in debts, and then it was featured in the movie Just Go With It. There's even a contest open now to win a good vacation stay at the resort as a tie-in with the movie.
Finally, the Grand Wailea is again the center of attention, as today it was announced that it was the temporary Hawaii home of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue's bevy of models, stylists and photographers when they stayed in Maui to shoot the 2011 issue, hitting newsstands today. We've visited the Grand Wailea before and found it a bit too family-oriented for our luxury tropical relaxation tastes, but all those models and famous photogs could've shifted the balance for at least a weekend.
When we think of Oprah Winfrey and hotels, our memory takes us back to 2007 when she threw down some pretty outrageous demands for a one-night stay at a hotel in Anaheim including room-temperature bottled water, restrictions on hotel employees entering her room and that her breakfast be made within 10 minutes.
Yet Oprah does have extensive hotel experience around the world and we guess she's going to draw on those experiences when she opens her own B&B in Hawaii.
The National Enquirer is reporting that O is renovating a 12-bedroom inn on the island of Maui. The place is the former site of the Silver Cloud Guest Ranch which Oprah purchased seven years ago.
"Oprah's plannning on heaving a high-end bed and breakfast for friends and wealthy customers who like the quiet of the Maui countryside," said the insider. Oprah plans to personally play hostess on the ranch when she is on the island, says the insider.