Destination Wailea

Thinking about Maui, my mind always rests on Wailea. Perched on the southwestern tip of the island about 30 minutes from Kahului Airport, Wailea boasts luxurious beaches, stunning golf courses, resorts, activities, and easy access to Maui’s endless attractions. It’s the perfect vacation waiting to happen.

A Maui experience is all about embracing the aloha spirit which extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. The warm tropical climate and abundance of luxury options lend themselves to being pampered. The teams at Maui resorts are seasoned in making visitors feel at home and like family. The high percentage of repeat visitors to Maui speaks for itself. 

Relaxing at Hotel Wailea 

One of the finest resorts on the island, Hotel Wailea offers a luxurious, adults-only space that easily meshes with the island vibe. The location itself is sublime, with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and three other Hawaiian islands. On top of that, it’s the only Relais & Châteaux property in Hawaii, meaning it offers excellent food to match the gorgeous surroundings. 

It won’t take long to understand why dining is such an attraction at Hotel Wailea. Overseen by executive chef Bryan McMahon, the food options range from casual to fine dining. The Treehouse definitely falls into the latter category. This intimate private experience is held in an elevated outdoor dining room surrounded by foliage and includes a 7-course meal with wine pairings. It’s luxury in a tree house.

Treehouse dining at Hotel Wailea.
Treehouse dining at Hotel Wailea. Photo: Aaron Scales.

Though less intimate, The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea offers its own outstanding dining experience. Feast on local seafood and produce and take in the lovely view. For cocktails, visit the Birdcage, the hotel’s open-air lounge. Unique drinks complement the incredible views.

Birdcage Bar features sunset views and sophisticated sips.
Hotel Wailea’s Birdcage Bar features sunset views and sophisticated sips. Photo: Surf Please.

But dining is just the start. Take advantage of in-suite spa treatments—ideal for couples—and the open-air fitness studio for yoga and other athletic pursuits. Or take the resort’s Surf Safari tour, learning to surf at some of the island’s most renowned breaks. 

When you’re ready to lounge by the ocean, their luxury vehicle service whisks you away to enjoy Wailea’s white sand Polo Beach, a small and secluded enclave to enjoy the warm air, sand, and water. It’s a great place to snorkel in summer and watch whale migrations in the winter.

Dining Around Wailea

Resorts are great to provide an all-encompassing experience or simply as a home base to venture out. Wailea offers a wide range of excellent restaurants just a short drive away.

Matteo’s Osteria is an intimate and well-loved Italian restaurant featuring nightly specials with house-made pasta and an awesome wine selection.

Gannonʻs is one of the top outdoor restaurants in the U.S. Chef Beverly Gannon helped create the Hawaii Regional Cuisine Movement which features local meats, fish, produce, and other ingredients. It’s farm-to-table, Hawaiian style.

Fairmont Kea Lani 

Fairmont Kea Lani is another choice place to stay on your Maui sojourn. This resort boasts lush gardens and a just-completed major transformation referred to as Ho’omaka Hou (a New Beginning). The multifaceted project enhanced 413 one-bedroom suites and 37 two-story villas in ways that evoke stories of the island’s rich cultural heritage.

Newly transformed living room. Photo: Fairmont Kea Lani.
Newly transformed living room. Photo: Fairmont Kea Lani.

On the dining side, executive chef Aris Aurelio oversees Kō (Hawaiian for sugar cane), a farm-to-table, fusion restaurant that features Korean, Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, and other cuisines. The seasonal menus will delight your palate.

Kō Restaurant. Photo: Fairmont Kea Lani.
Kō Restaurant. Photo: Fairmont Kea Lani.

For breakfast, wander down to the Kea Lani Restaurant and eat breakfast al fresco. Enjoy the bounty of their extravagant buffet which includes an omelet station, smoked salmon, or standard bacon and eggs. The Makana Market and Café offers house-crafted pastries, fudge, pizzas, sandwiches, tuna poke bowls, salads, and more.

For relaxation (and to entertain the kids), the resort boasts two lagoon-style pools with waterslides. There are hot tubs as well as shallow pools for small children. There’s also a quieter adults-only pool.

I definitely recommend renting a cabaña where you can cool down and enjoy a refreshing cocktail like their popular Kea Lani Mai Tai, (Bacardi rum, tropical juices, float of Bacardi black rum) the Moana Mist (Ocean vodka, basil, strawberry, lemon, agave syrup, soda). Or order any beverage with a “Tropic Like It’s Hot” twist, served in a fresh pineapple!

Fairmont Kea Lani also offers ample opportunities to sample Hawaiian history and culture.

Paddle boarding in Maui.
Paddle boarding in Maui. Photo: Fairmont Kea Lani.

The Hawaiian Canoe Experience takes you out on the water in an outrigger. There are also hula and ukulele lessons, a torch lighting ceremony, and a seedling planting in the resort’s greenhouse to help restore the island’s forests.

The beauty of Maui is that it’s not one thing—it’s many things—which is what makes it so ideal for a family vacation or couple’s getaway. Swim, dine, tour, shop, play. It’s all there.