Maui Travel Guide
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.
The first Hawaiian hotel casualty of the recession has been claimed--The Maui Prince Hotel and Makena Golf Course will close on September 16, according to news reports. The hotel's management company, Prince Resorts Hawaii, was forced to close the hotel after the owners defaulted on a mortgage of $192.5 million. And it wasn't just the mortgage the owners couldn't keep up with--they couldn't keep up with their end of the operation contract either.
So while a hotel in foreclosure usually doesn't affect the guest experience during their stay, once the hotel owners are unable to meet the demands of their contract with the hotel management company, then things really start to go south.
Last time we checked out the Honua Kai Resort & Spa on Maui, they were just about to open the first half of the resort and had $195 opening specials. Today, it's still a year before the second half of the resort opens, but the specials are back with the frugal vacationer in mind.
The new deal is that from September 1 through December 12, Honua Kai is offering you a "dream deal" with up to 50% off rack rates, which brings them back to the $195 a night rate they started with. Their press release on the deal is very careful to name lots of reasons why you can save money at the Honua Kai: for example, you get a shade umbrella for free next to the pool, instead of the $100 a day you might pay at other Maui resorts for a shade cabana. You can also save some bucks by cooking in your own suite, they suggest, because you can now buy any ingredients you're after at the Aina Gourmet Market.
Be careful with the fine print, though. Even though Honua Kai seems very keen to save you money, there are quite a few mentions of a $25 per day "daily resort service fee" on their website, so check if you'll need to pay that too before you do your calculations.
Our most memorable childhood meals were bite sized delights served on a beverage napkin with frilly toothpicks, so it’s no wonder we swoon for the pupu. These island-style hors d’oeuvres are a staple of Hawaiian luaus and happy hours, every bit as much as the Mai Tai, Piña Colada, Blue Hawaii, and Lava Flow.
The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui celebrates the pupu at its new Luana Lounge. (“Luana” is the Hawaiian word meaning to be at leisure, enjoy pleasant surroundings, to live in comfort and ease.) The new lobby bar features a new theme, new menu, new bar, new décor and new furnishings that create a more authentically local ambiance. We love all the new updates, none of which distract from the stunning, colorful South Shore sunsets.
Occasionally, we take some time to sit around and think about the possibility that we may become famous overnight, and the possibility that such fame could lead to a Britney or LiLo-esque breakdown or, at the very least, a one-night meltdown that is not-so-epic but still notable. Said meltdown could be triggered by a bad breakup or one-too-many run-in's with paparazzi, and preceded immediately by a head-shave or an ill-advised, highly-publicized affair. But when we are famous and we do have that breakdown, which hotel are we going to retreat to?
Luckily, Lindsay Lohan is out in the field doing some research for us and fresh off her highly-publicized bad breakup with girlfriend Samantha Ronson and, um, highly-publicized turbulent life as of late has flown to Hawaii to kick it at the Wailea Beach Marriott. From the volumes of pap shots that continue to emerge, showing her chillin' by the pool and appearing to not be completely devastated, the big, grand breakdown may have already happened and she may be in recovery or on the upswing which is cool too.
We've gotta admit we were a bit surprised that our Lindsay didn't select the way-posh Four Seasons Maui as her Hawaiian getaway destination of choice, but this is a good pick, too: the property is nestled between two beaches and boasts several pools on property, including a new infinity-edged "Serenity" Pool. Yes. Serenity is good for her. We assume she's staying in a suite here, and those start at $589.00 this summer.
[Photo: Bauer-Griffin via Defamer]
Maui's getting its first new resort for ages, when the Honua Kai Resort opens up on North Beach Kaanapali at the end of January. It'll be full of self-contained suites (they're very proud of the Bosch dishwashers, for a start) to give you a luxury experience on the beach.
Developer Intrawest, who normally specialize in mountain resorts, have decided to get their toes wet with a beachfront resort this time, so we hope they've figured out the difference. There are a few telltale mountain influences going on, with waterfalls heading into one of the swimming pools and another pool which has the shape of a river, but they both sound pretty nice to us.
Honua Kai has got opening rates of $195 a night, or $250 a night with an ocean view. Bear in mind that the second phase of the resort, including the Konea building and two of the three pools, isn't due to open until spring of 2010 so there'll still be some construction work going on somewhere--but perhaps the half price opening rates make up for that.