This hotel has undergone significant renovations since our visit.
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Expect to be impressed when entering the multistory, 22-acre Fairmont Kea Lani ("white heaven" in Hawaiian), which ranks among Maui's best luxury resorts -- including the top-of-the-heap Four Seasons Maui and the Grand Wailea. More discreet and laid-back than the former, and less chaotic than the latter, it's a sophisticated choice for both families and couples.
If architect Jose Luis Ezquerra's undulating white domes seem all but Hawaiian (his design has often earned the property the nickname "Aladdin's castle"), the island-style vibe and hospitality -- fresh orchid lei greetings, nearly life-size murals of ancient Hawaiian life, regular "alohas" from the staff -- give a sense of place. An impressive ecological stewardship program pays respect to the local culture and environment as well.
The resort's got amenities aplenty -- four pools, four restaurants and a popular lounge, a modern fitness center, the Kea Lani Spa, and the Keiki Lani Kids Club to name a few, plus direct beachfront access to the calm, beautiful part of Wailea Beach called Polo Beach. The all-in-one-property attracts well-off families and couples, but it's more laid-back than the neighboring Four Seasons: Celebrity sightings and formal service aren't the norm. Still, the highbrow crowd keeps things upscale -- even guests drinking at the swim-up bar seem to sit up straight on their underwater stools.
Even though it comes close, the Fairmont falls a sliver short of the Four Seasons on several fronts: There are fewer free features, suites have fewer amenities and are slightly dated, and the service is less meticulous. There's a tad less pretense here, however, and the same access to the world-class Wailea Golf Club, the Wailea Tennis Club, and the Shops at Wailea.
Every part of this property is well-staffed with friendly, down-to-earth employees who provide top-notch attention and service, giving the nearby Four Seasons a run for its money (though not quite beating it). It's difficult to go for more than a few minutes without getting ones needs met. Beach attendants, servers, and the front desk staff learn guests' names within a day of arrival and seem to check their status at regular intervals. An occasional line at the full-service concierge desk and reservation requirements at the property's renowned restaurants are rare indications of how big the Fairmont is; guests are never shuffled along or made to feel like part of a herd. Even groundskeepers and housekeeping staff offer wide smiles and warm alohas as guests pass; the pretense of separation between staff and guests doesn't exist here.
- Aloha greeting includes a lei and welcome drink.
- Free shuttle service to anywhere in Wailea
- Daily housekeeping; nightly turndown service
- Pool attendants pass out cold towels.
- 24-hour room service
In resort-rich Wailea -- great golf, gorgeous beaches, luxury shopping, and near-perfect weather
The Fairmont is one of the four luxury resorts in Wailea, a manicured, planned resort development that lines two spectacular beach-dotted miles of Maui's southwestern shore. Besides the beaches and the almost perfect weather -- rain rarely falls in this arid microclimate, and the temperature hovers around 85 degrees year round -- golf and shopping are the area's big draws.
- Short drive from the Shops at Wailea, an open-air mall with high-end shopping and dining options, as well as grocery stores
- Near four highly regarded golf courses
- A long beachfront jogging or walking path spans several of the resorts; the Grand Wailea is at its midpoint.
- Four-lane Wailea Alanui Drive is frequently crowded with slow-moving traffic.
- Valet parking charged plus tax. On-site self-parking is free.
- 35-minute drive from Kahului Airport
- Big Beach, La Perouse Bay, and other popular west Maui towns and beaches are anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour by car.
- Mount Haleakala, the island's dormant volcano, and Hana are at least two to three hours by car, along beautiful but challenging, narrow highways.
Direct access to Polo Beach, which has calm, shallow waters for kids and feels more private than the beaches fronting its Wailea neighbors
Fairmont Kea Lani is fronted by Polo Beach, one of the most private-feeling in Wailea (all Hawaii beaches are public) due to rocky surrounding shores. Public beach access is available through a small parking lot next to the resort, but the beach is filled mainly with guests. The calm waters are good for snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking, and are safe for children, but the waves aren't generally good for surfing here.
- Soft, fine-grained sand that's groomed every morning
- Shallow water is ideal for children.
- Like all of Hawaii's beaches, Polo Beach is open to the public, but it draws far more vacationers than locals.
- Hotel provides free beach chairs and umbrellas to guests
- Good snorkeling about a five-minute walk down the beach
- Complimentary canoe lessons take off from Polo Beach
All of the huge rooms are suites, but decor is slightly outdated
All 413 units at the Fairmont are multi-room suites, and they're massive -- the standard suites are larger than the standard rooms of the neighboring Four Seasons or Grand Wailea. The walk-through bathrooms alone could probably hold an extra rollaway, and rooms connect on two sides to baths so it's easy to separate them for privacy. Unfortunately, the décor -- a muted tropical color scheme -- isn't especially modern or unique. By contrast, the room's technology is nearly up to date. All suites and villas were renovated between 2010 and 2011, so while perhaps not the most stylish, rooms are clean and new.
- The differentiating factor between suite types is the view and balcony; oceanfront suites with wraparound decks are the cream of the crop, and the standard garden views are the lowest and cheapest; suites range from 840 to 1,100 square feet.
- Each suite features one king or two double beds with pillow-tops and down comforters, plus a living room with a reasonably comfortable, sectional pullout couch; the color palate is either a mix of greens or pinks.
- Suites range from the specialty Kilohana Suite, with wraparound balcony and a full ocean view from inside and outside, to the moderate suite with a smaller balcony and view of the street or parking area.
- Huge, well-designed bathrooms have double sinks, bathtub, separate shower, and separate powder room; Le Labo toiletries and a separate care kit are provided.
- Wi-Fi available in all rooms for a fee.
- Two flat-screen TVs with 35 cable channels and on-demand movies; Sony Dream Machine alarm/iPod docks; small wet bars, empty mini-fridges, a coffeemaker, and packages of coffee and tea provided.
A well-rounded resort with excellent amenities -- though many are outdone by competing hotels
It would be hard to fault the Fairmont Kea Lani for any of its amenities -- from the spa and fitness center to the kids' club, shops, and activities; most are very well done. And even if each feature taken individually pales slightly in comparison to what's offered at other top-tier Maui hotels (there's stiff competition here), overall, the Kea Lani's offerings combine to create a well-rounded, satisfying retreat with the area's largest accommodations.
- While the Kea Lani Spa offers several treatment rooms, an excellent range of services, and an Aveda-based salon, it has few extra perks; it's not worth paying the $20 charge just to use this spa's limited facilities. If you're looking for a great spa, head to one of Maui's best facilities, five minutes away at the Grand Wailea.
- The resort's fitness center has a wide selection of up-to-date machines, plus water, magazines, towels, and a few classes (including hula hooping), but for sheer size and amount of equipment, it's beat out by the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea.
- There's an impressive collection of shops, including a clothing store and a kids' shop, but guests at any of the Wailea resorts get shuttle service to the nearby Shops at Wailea, with a more extensive selection.
- Four on-site restaurants and one happening lounge, some highly regarded and on par with what's offered at other luxury properties
- Four great pools, though the pools are more extensive at the Grand Wailea
- The on-site business center has a variety of computers and a laptop work station in a small, windowless room; comparable to what the Four Seasons offers.
- The charge for Intenet is a drag, but if guests join the Fairmont President's Club before booking (free, but you must sign up before arrival), they can get this charge lifted, along with some other fees.
- Three world-class, ocean-view golf courses are five minutes away at the Wailea Golf Club.
- The Wailea Tennis Club is five minutes away.
- Free shuttle runs throughout Wailea, including to other resorts, the Shops at Wailea, and the golf courses.
- Free self-parking in a tighly packed lot; daily fee for valet parking
- Free fitness classes, including yoga
The resort centers around the hotel's four well-designed, well-maintained pools. Although they can't rival the water wonderland at the nearby Grand Wailea (few hotels on Maui can), they provide areas for both adults and kids to enjoy.
- Adult Pool is quieter and calmer than the other pools; located near restaurants, but doesn't have a bar.
- Upper Pool has poolside service and a swim-up bar; two small whirlpools are located nearby.
- Lower Lagoon Pool is a large, amorphous pool, dotted with landscaped islands, basketball nets, and footbridges.
- The small, shallow Kids' Pool is great for toddlers and small children.
- Long, twisting waterslide runs between the Upper and Lower Lagoon pools; entrance monitored by lifeguard.
- Picnic packages for kids are provided to take to any pool.
Four world-class golf courses, just a short drive away
Wailea is home to some of Hawaii's best golf. Wailea Golf Club has three, 18-hole courses -- named among the top 15 golf courses in Hawaii for 2007-2008 by Golf Digest, two of which were designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The award-winning Makena Golf Course is less than a five-minute drive south of Wailea, offering another high-level, ocean-view course.
- Virtually every hole has an ocean view; the island's dormant volcano, Haleakala, provides the backdrop.
- Golf carts are equipped with GPS as well as course tips and information; club rentals available
- The Golf Club boasts the David Leadbetter Golf Academy; golf lessons available
- Equally stunning and more challenging, the Makena Golf Course, also designed by Trent Jones, is a five-minute drive south of Wailea.
One of Maui's most forward-thinking resorts in terms of the environment
The Fairmont's "Environmental Stewardship" program includes an impressive roster of over 50 initiatives, more than other hotels on the island.
- Rooms feature energy-saving eco-MODE thermostats, recycling containers in every room, and low-flow showerheads
- Disposable cups are made of 100 percent compostable corn, utensils are made of potatoes, and disposable food containers are made from cornstarch, recycled paperboard, and sugarcane bagasse.
- Pools are cleaned using rock salt instead of chlorine.
- "Recycling Cents" program donates recyclables to be redeemed for cash by various local nonprofit charities.
The Fairmont is a strong choice for families. A supervised kids' club, kid-friendly pools, and large suite-only accommodations are among the highlights.
- Kids' club offers full- or half-day programs that include educational walks along the beach (for a fee); by comparison, the Four Seasons offers its full-day kids program for free.
- A long, twisting waterslide that runs between the upper pool and lower lagoon pool is a popular kid-magnet.
- A kids' fitness program offers special classes and entertainment through the fitness center during family peak seasons (summers and holidays).
- Restaurants feature separate kids' menus, and children under five eat free with their parents.
- Babysitting services available with 24 hours' notice
- Large suite-style rooms with big baths, foldout couches, mini-fridges, and free cribs
The Fairmont Kea Lani's 22 beachfront acres are spotless and the grounds are constantly maintained. Aside from seeing a bird or two hunting for leftovers in the outdoor dining areas, guests are unlikely to think twice about the hotel's cleanliness.
Parts of the hotel and décor felt somewhat dated when Oyster originally visited, but all suites and villas were renovated in 2010-11. The property also made several updates, including renovations to the business center, ballroom, rotunda room, and Luana Lounge, and added a kids' club in February 2009.
The Fairmont's four restaurants are generally pricey, though not as pricey as those at the nearby Four Seasons. There's a good range of types of food and formality.
- Ko, the hotel's signature restaurant, was renovated and reopened in 2012. Featuring regional Hawaiian cuisine from the various ethnic groups that came to work Maui's sugar cane plantations, Ko serves lunch and dinner daily.
- Polo Beach Grille & Bar serves salads, sandwiches and burgers.
- The Kea Lani Restaurant serves a notably great breakfast buffet, with top-notch quality, variety, and service.
- Caffe Ciao Deli, the least expensive spot, sells deli foods and a small selection of groceries (and is also the resort's option for stocking the suites' empty mini-fridges).
Luana Lounge offers live entertainment.
- All restaurants and bars close by 11 p.m.; crowds tend to peter out by around 9 p.m.; none gets particularly lively, but the lounge features nightly live music.
- 24-hour room service available
Impressive range of food, alcohol, and Aveda-based salon services
- Wedding Size: Up to 300 people
- Extra Fees and Restrictions: Extra "labor fees" apply to small weddings, such as an extra charge if your plated dinner is for less than 20 people, and there's also a set-up fee at the Pacific Terrace and a sound system set-up fee at the Polo Lawn . Also, 50 percent of the wedding package must be paid at the time of booking, as well as 25 percent of the expected food and beverage cost.
- Wedding Packages: The most basic, Pilialoha, or "To Be in Love," package includes the cost of a wedding planner, the ceremony location, an officiant, a license and marriage certificate, a bridal bouquet, a boutonniere, two champagne flutes and a bottle of champagne, a six-inch wedding cake, and two hours of photography.
- Ceremony Locations: The Pacific Terrace (up to 45 people seated), the semiprivate Tropical Gazebo (up to 75 people seated, or 100 standing), or the Polo Lawn (up to 300 people seated); in case of rain, the 4th or 6th floor alcoves inside the hotel can seat up to 35 guests.
- Photographers and Videographers: All of the packages include two hours of photography, but you can also pay for each additional hour. Two to three hours of videography and the service includes one edited DVD with music. Outside vendors are permitted at no extra fee.
- Music: A DJ set up with disco lights (three hours), a contemporary Hawaiian musician with a guitar or ukulele, a classical musician, a pedal harpist.
- Extras: Butterfly release; a conch shell blower, a "tiki maiden," and a hula dancer; a fire knife dancer and drummer; a full-scale Polynesian show; outside vendors permitted, but there's a fee.
- Cocktail Hour: Hors d'oeuvres must be ordered in 12-piece increments.
- Food: Specialty stations priced per person; carving stations; plated dinners, plus another fee per person for appetizers; buffets, with an extra chef or attendant fee per hour, per chef
- Drinks: An open bar ranges per person for the first two hours, and then costs another price for each additional hour. Alternatively, you can buy wine by the bottle or mai tai punch per gallon. If you don't spend a certain amount at each bar, there's a bartender fee. Also, there's only one bartender per 100 guests -- for another bartender, it'll cost extra.
- Cakes: One to three tiers vailable in white, chocolate, carrot, or coconut, and filled with either passion fruit, guava mousse, vanilla-bean cream cheese, strawberry, or chocolate mousse
- Flowers and Decorations: Like most high-end resorts in Maui, you can get fairly elaborate with your flowers (and it'll cost you). The basics inclde a decorated ceremony location, some rose petals, a bridal bouquet with an extra fee for chair covers and ties and another for each menu card and place card. But that's just the begining: leis, a "circle of flowers", flowers for the chairs, another fee for each bridesmaid bouquet, a head lei, and centerpieces. On top of all that, you can opt for some hanging Chinese lanterns, a bamboo arch, and a floral canopy.
- Spa Treatments: The on-site spa offers a full menu of treatments, including hair-styling and makeup services (basic pre-wedding packages for the bride and for the groom).
- Honeymoon Suite: There's no special honeymoon suite, but most brides and grooms opt for the Deluxe Ocean View Suite.
- Airport Transportation: The hotel does not provide a shuttle to and from the airport.
Wailea's aptly named Fairmont Kea Lani is a "white heaven" indeed -- its 450 units sit on a 22-acre beachfront property that includes four pools, four restaurants and one lounge, access to world-class golf, some of Maui's largest rooms, and a relentless dedication to service that rivals the nearby Four Seasons.
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Things You Should Know About The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui
- 4100 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, Maui, HI 96753
Hotel Is Also Known As...
- Fairmont Hotel Kea Lani
- The Fairmont Kea Lani
- Fairmont Deluxe Ocean View Suite
- Fairmont Ocean View Suite
- Fairmont Partial Ocean View Suite
- Fairmont Poolside Suite
- Fairmont Suite
- Kilohana Signature Suite
- Moderate Suite
- Ocean Front 2-Bedroom Villa
- Ocean Front 3-Bedroom Villa
- Ocean View 2-Bedroom Villa
- Ocean View 3-Bedroom Villa