The world watched – and mourned – as wildfires destroyed the town of Lahaina, Maui back on that fateful day of August 8. And many surrounding areas, including Kula. But thankfully, there are many areas of Maui that were completely untouched. If you’re considering going on vacation or planning a Christmas holiday in the next few months, make sure to consider Maui, with its inimitable beaches – and famous rainbows.
The upscale resort area of Wailea, for example, in south Maui, is one area that has continued to remain pristine and open for visitors. One of the area’s crown jewels is the Wailea Beach Resort. With warm aloha, it continues to welcome visitors to its doors – and especially so with the holiday season coming up. (More on that in a minute. Now, I’ve only done an informal survey – but three out of three wise men agree that a holiday trip to Maui would be just the ticket.)
We recently visited for a few days, after the wildfires.
Angela Vento, General Manager, told me: “We continue to offer extraordinary experiences and one-of-a-kind amenities delivered with the same aloha spirit and service excellence that Wailea Beach Resort is renowned for.”
The Wailea Beach Resort is the flagship luxury property that’s part of the Marriott Bonvoy family of brands in Hawaii. It’s one of the top Marriott Bonvoy redemption stays in the world among its members. Yet you don’t see any “Marriott” signage anywhere on property. That’s because this Maui property is very distinctive. This posh property is markedly different in that it offers you an upscale, authentic Maui experience – and one that inspires scores and scores of repeat guests, year after year. The resort prides itself on its credo of being surgically clean, having surroundings in like-new condition, and seeking excellence in all that it does. It really doesn’t matter if you’re on a honeymoon, just on vacation, celebrating an anniversary, or having fun with your family – “We have the place for you,” says Ms. Laurie Garzon, Director of Sales and Marketing.
To illustrate the wide variety of activities options and expansiveness of this property, there are six pools spread in four distinct locations on the resort’s 22 acres. The newest, most glamorous and pristine pool anywhere is the brand new Olakino pool (“Olakino” means “health and vitality”), an unparalleled adults-only wellness sanctuary featuring personalized service from Po’e Mālamas (translated as ‘one who takes care’) and elevated wellness and culinary offerings, all included in a private poolside setting.
The first white-glove experience of its kind in Maui, Olakino is framed by tropical greenery and centered around an infinity-edge saline pool that peers out to the Pacific with in-water chaise lounges. Programming themes rotate on a four-day schedule tied to the pillars of La’i (tranquil, harmony), Ala (awaken), Konea (restored), and A’o (to acquire knowledge) so guests can expect anything from poolside acupuncture and sunrise yoga flows to aquatic sound baths and Ayurveda tea ceremonies. To further revitalize the mind and body, Olakino offers a health-forward food-and-beverage menu and complimentary goodies throughout the day including nutritious wellness shots and Hawaiian shave ice. Available for purchase are goodies such as avocado toast, local Hawaiian ceviche, mochi ice cream and frozen dark-chocolate sea salt banana bites. It’s all so drop-dead gorgeous and glamorous that you would expect Nicole Kidman to be on the lounger next to you.
With limited spaces available, resort guests will have the option to book an Olakino day pass (starting at $200/chair), which grants full access to the oasis and daily programming. Day beds (starting at $600) and cabanas (starting at $1,200) are also available.
What I especially loved about Olakino are the luxurious lounge chairs that are perched in ankle-deep water, so that you can stay cool and soak up the sun simultaneously. They’re the very definition of the word “relax.”
You’ll find other pools such as the Ohi, which is great for families, and the adult serenity pool with its floating cabanas, which, in season, is ideal for whale-watching. Let’s not forget the Nalu Adventure Pool that boasts as the tallest resort waterslide in Hawaii at 325 meters long and completely kid-friendly, with splash zones, a swim-through grotto and spacious family cabanas.
When you come, consider the new Sundeck Garden rooms, which are private outdoor love nests with outdoor soaking tub. There will be no better spot to share quality time.
Does this inspire you for the holiday season? Here are some island-themed Holiday Happenings at the resort, so you can take part in a Hawaiian Christmas, which is known as “Mele Kalikimaka.”
Families are invited to meet Kris Kringle with a Hawaiian twist – guests can greet Santa in the sand as he arrives to the shores of Maui via canoe. The resort then hosts an “elf” parade back to their Mei Court, offering milk and cookies and, of course, the chance to meet Saint Nick.
Family-friendly holiday activities on property include a daily Elf on the Shelf Scavenger hunt, wood ornament-making classes, a mermaid meet-and-greet, sugar cookie decorating, holiday hula, gingerbread decorating, a Storytime with Mrs. Claus, donut decorating, pineapple carving, holiday hand printing, poke class and tasting and more. Whew!
The resort area of Wailea itself, in addition to great beaches, offers championship golf and luxury retail.
In addition, Wailea Beach Resort offers exclusive holiday tastings to parents, including:
Maui Brewing Tasting: Hosted at the property’s brand-new Makani Bar, guests are invited to sample Maui Brewing’s renown locally brewed beers.
Tropical Bellinis: Celebrate December 23-25 with a Maui twist at Sunsets bar, where guests are invited to try a sparkling Hawaii-inspired bellini featuring tropical lilikoi (passion fruit).
Mixology Workshop: Guests can practice their bartending skills with cocktail workshops at Makani Bar, learning the secrets to making the perfect classics and island-inspired libations.
There are several dining venues at the resort – we recommend Kapa for lunch — especially for the terrific fish tacos. While you’re there, be sure to order a Maui Bliss cocktail – a portion of the proceeds from each sale are given to the Maui Strong Fund. For dinner, you must, must, must try Humble Market Kitchin (that’s not a typo) by Chef Roy Yamaguchi. We are long-time lovers of all-things-Roy, and his restaurants are famous for their Misoyaki butterfish that’s marinated in sake and sugar – it’s like eating dessert. Make sure to order the chocolate lava cake souffle – it’s divine and it comes with a gorgeous Tahitian-vanilla ice cream. We also attended the resort’s luau, that now, after Covid, serves dinner family-style. Here’s where to find great local fare such as taro rolls and purple Molokai sweet potatoes and grilled fish and pork, to name just a few. The dancers and the music are gorgeous, and against the backdrop of a superb Maui sunset – and well, you just might be moved to tears at something so beautiful – and romantic.
And speaking of great food, where would Hawaii be without banana bread? You’ll find it all over Maui – but one of the very best-ever banana breads can be found at Wailea Beach Resort, at Kapa, in-room dining and poolside. The award-winning recipe was created by staffer Kiyo Miller, who worked at the resort for more than 40 years. “She won a contest and we still use the recipe today,” says Ms. Garzon. Indeed, the delicacy is super-delicious and melt-in-your-mouth marvelous. (For more information, visit mylilikoikitchen.com). And drop whatever you are doing around 4:30 daily, when the firepits start burning and the resort doles out delicious complimentary s’mores.
Take advantage of the hotel’s arrival/departure lounge, which, in theory, could add two additional days to your vacation because you can start using the pools and amenities prior to check-in and after check-out. Upon your arrival to the resort the team will provide you access to the lounge, which has showers and lockers. After checking out, you can make use of a bathing suit dryer (allowing you to be in the water up until to the very last minute prior to your flight departure), restrooms and a comfortable common area with seating, TV and a printer for your airline boarding documents.
And who wouldn’t want to spend as much time on-property, in Maui, as possible?
And here’s just one insider tip: The Wailea Beach Resort is just a quick 20-second walk to The Shops At Wailea. There, you’ll find one of the world’s best ice cream scoop shops: Lappert’s. The locally-loved brand was established years ago on Kauai by an entrepreneur named Walter Lappert. His very-best, most super-scrumptious flavor is called “Kauai Pie,” and it’s a mix of Kona Coffee ice cream laced with chocolate, and coconut and macadamia nuts. Dee-lish. I call it the “Aloha shirt of Hawaiian dessert.”
And let me just say this final word about the Wailea Beach Resort. I’m paid to be objective in my reporting, and to inform about all things – pros and cons. However, I really can’t find anything not to like about this resort – I’m sure that individuals, couples and families will have a great time here. The Wailea Beach Resort is a well-oiled machine – and it’s coconut-and-macadamia-nut oil, at that.
For more about my Wanderlust and Wellness adventures, please Follow me on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.