Surf, sand and the island spirit — Maui is truly a vacationers paradise. With the bountiful, tropical landscape, mountains and turquoise blue ocean, every square inch of this little sanctuary is cloaked in natural beauty. I spent several nights enjoying that exquisiteness from the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Hawaii, 5-Oh!
1. Location, location, location. Situated on the south shore of the island, the Grand Wailea is flanked by other major hotels, but feels private and exclusive. Wailea Beach is public, but the property has umbrellas and chairs reserved solely for guests. The water is generally calm and warm, and paddle boarding and snorkeling are popular aqua activities (the hotel can help set you up with both). For guests looking for a little more action, head to Lahaina, on the west side of the island (about a 45-minute drive); car rentals, cab service or a shuttle bus are available. Here, guests can engage in a number of activities such as horseback riding, parasailing, zip lining and more.
2. The grounds. The Grand Wailea’s design perfectly complements the stunning landscape. The fountains and onsite white chapel make for gorgeous photo backdrops, and the botanical gardens are peaceful and a pleasant respite from the afternoon sun. The pools offer serious splashing space: There are rope swings, slides, hot tubs, a lazy river, six waterfalls, a water elevator and a swim-up bar (be sure to take a seat on a stool and relish a foot massage). There’s also a sandy “beach” for infants and toddlers to play around.
3. It’s easy to stay fit. Beach bums? Hardly. Judging by the sheer number of guests in Lululemon gear at the breakfast buffet, the Grand Wailea is a great spot for active travelers. There’s a beachfront path perfect for walking and jogging, an expansive gym with every fitness contraption you can imagine and all of the complimentary fitness classes a guest could want: Zumba, boot camp and aerobics, to name a few. I partook in a morning yoga class on the beach and spotted a few humpback whales in the ocean while I practiced my warrior pose.
4. There’s plenty of tasty food. Typically, breakfast buffets are humdrum, but the fresh Malasadas (deep fried dough powdered with sugar) were a welcomed pick-me-up. If you need grab-and-go fruit, water or coffee, there’s a convenient market on the grounds. For a more upscale experience, Amasia is a fusion of Asian, Peruvian and Spanish flavors and is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Alan Wong. The unpronounceable (to most) Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (named after the state fish of Hawaii) overlooks a freshwater lagoon that may be home to your lobster dinner. Reservations for all restaurants are highly recommended.
5. You can exercise some retail therapy. Feeling the laid-back island style? The resort shops include the typical items such as souvenir T-shirts and mugs. But there are also stores that sell more usable pieces such as swimwear, cover-ups and Toms shoes as well as sandals and sunglasses if you find yourself in need of an extra set. And Hawaii loves its jewelry — there are a few boutiques that carry locally made necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. Just a five-minute walk from the resort are the Shops at Wailea, an open-air, upscale assortment of stores including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and a great cosmetics market, Cos Bar.
Photos courtesy of Melia Hotels International