Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Maui, Hawaii, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Access to spa's hydrotherapy facilities not included in resort fee
  • Expensive food
  • Most pools have a loud, theme-park atmosphere
  • Valet parking fees add up
  • Resort fee

Bottom Line

The beautifully designed, 780-room Grand Wailea is awe-inspiring in its scale: It's got the best pool in Hawaii, one of the top U.S. spas, and a prime location on one of the best U.S. beaches. Opulence marks every feature -- from the luxe rooms to the massive gym -- but the resort's Disneyland-like vibe isn't right for everyone.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

The biggest and showiest resort in fancy Wailea

The lobby pavilion
The lobby pavilion

Set on 40 acres of prime beachfront property, Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa is the biggest -- and in many ways, the grandest -- resort in Wailea, the most desirable location in Maui. An outpost of Hilton's Waldorf-Astoria luxury brand (Hilton also owns the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and attaches its name to a number of upscale resorts) the level of opulent detail applied to every single aspect of this resort does not disappoint. Large-scale Botero sculptures surround its open-air lobby pavilion -- all part of the hotel's $30 million art collection, which also includes works by Picasso. Between the guest-room towers, there are gardens that look plucked from a section of a rainforest. And in addition to its incredible maze of pools -- including a multilevel, fake volcano and the world's only "water elevator" -- there's Spa Grande, which was named one of the "top spas in the U.S" by both Travel+Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.

Even the Four Seasons, right next door, seems modest or at least subdued by comparison. At the Four Seasons, for example, there's an elegant, elevated fountain at the center of its pool -- it's pretty, but nothing compared to the thunderous waterfall that wraps around the entrance wall of the Grand Wailea. Both resorts are rival each other for the title of the most luxurious in Maui, but they each have a distinct interpretation of luxury. The Four Seasons offers a quiet, classy atmosphere with over-the-top service, while the Grand Wailea is busier, more ostentatious, and has a much greater "wow factor" than any other hotel in Maui.

 Service

Extensive services and friendly, capable staff

The concierge wing
The concierge wing

Guest services covers a lot of ground at this resort, both literally and figuratively. An entire lobby wing is dedicated to concierge desks, and the Napua Concierge Floor has additional concierges exclusively for guests staying on that floor. Overall, the level of service is sufficient, but not quite on par with the Four Seasons, which famously has two staff members for every guest at the hotel.

  • Bilingual staff who can act as interpreters for guests; dedicated concierge for Japanese guests
  • Free welcome lei made from orchid flowers and a mai-tai cocktail
  • In-room video checkout available via the TV, starting at 5 a.m.
  • Nightly turndown service includes a fresh orchid and a card with a Hawaiian poem placed on the bed
  • Attendant at the business center to help with all business requests
  • Room service available
  • Food and drink service at the pools
  • Mini-bars available upon request, come with custom-created ingredients for specific cocktail requests, including Margarita and Martini Vodka bar set-ups

 Location

In resort-rich Wailea -- great golf, gorgeous beaches, luxury shopping, and near-perfect weather

The Grand Wailea 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
  • There is no on-site self-parking is free, and there is a fee for valet
  • 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.
  • Mt. Haleakala, the island's dormant volcano, and Hana are at least two to three hours by car, along beautiful but challenging, narrow highways.

 Beach

One of America's best beaches

The beach
The beach

Wailea Beach, one of the finest beaches in Maui, is a crescent-shaped shore with light brown, powdery sand that stretches over one-third of a mile. The Grand Wailea sits front and center at this popular beach, though neighboring resorts like the Four Seasons also have the same direct access to this bustling shore.

  • Soft, fine-grained sand that's groomed every morning
  • Small waves suitable for skim-boarding, body-surfing, paddleboarding, and Hobie Cat sailing
  • Good snorkeling on the southern edge of the bay, which has healthy reefs and occasional turtles
  • Snorkel gear, paddleboards and other water-sports equipment is available at the Maui Ocean Activity Desk in front of the resort.
  • Like all of Hawaii's beaches, Wailea Beach is open to the public, but it draws far more vacationers than locals.

 Rooms

Space and luxury -- you get what you pay for

The standard room
The standard room

Designed to have a Victorian parlor-meets-sugar-plantation aesthetic, the guest rooms -- like everything else at Grand Wailea -- are grand. Luxury is in the details: from the single orchid and greeting card placed on the bed at nightly turndown service to the soft waffle-weave robes in the closet. The Four Seasons Maui has comparable niceties, but its rooms are slightly smaller.

  • Huge standard rooms (640 square feet); that's about two times the size of a typical hotel room in the U.S. and 100 square feet bigger than the standard rooms at the Four Seasons
  • Roomy balconies with cushioned recliner seats and ottomans; views range from the mountains to the resort gardens to the ocean.
  • Spacious marble-tiled bathroom: soaking tub; separate shower that has a large showerhead and powerful water pressure; and a separate toilet room
  • Bath products from Spa Grande's signature line, including honey-mango-scented soap, shampoo, conditioner, body gel and lotion.
  • Extremely comfortable bed with a pillow-top mattress, feather pillows, and a thick feather duvet
  • 37-inch flat-screen TV with basic cable and pay-per-view movies
  • iPod dock and alarm clock
  • Refrigerators, microwaves, and DVD players -- available only by request. Mini-bar set-ups come custom-made for specific cocktail requests, including margaritas and vodka martinis
  • Wi-Fi and hard-wired Internet (included in the resort fee)

 Pools

Fun, elaborate pool system with just about every water feature imaginable; plus a scenic adult pool

The pool
The pool

It's hard even to call the 25,700-square-foot Wailea Canyon Activity Pool complex a "pool." It's more like an aquatic theme park, marked by an exciting water feature at every turn.

And all of this is fine and good for children, but it can be a bit exhausting. That's why the hotel also reserves its most scenic pool for guests 18 and up.

 Spa

One of Hawaii's best spas, featuring a unique range of hydrotheraphy baths

Hydrotheraphy bath at the Spa Grande
Hydrotheraphy bath at the Spa Grande

Praised by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel+Leisure, among others, the neoclassical Spa Grande is the largest spa in Hawaii, and considered as one of the top spas in the U.S.

  • Treatments incorporate thalasso therapy, and ancient Eastern and Hawaiian practices.
  • All spa products use Hawaiian-grown ingredients.
  • Terme Wailea Hydrotheraphy includes five aromatic baths, a Japanese furo bath, a cascading waterfall massage, a Roman hot tub, cold plunge pool, a Swiss jet shower, eucalyptus steam and a redwood sauna -- be sure to go early, when the baths are freshly drawn and there are fewer bathers.
  • Massages, facials, body wraps, and scrubs also available
  • Grand Salon offers haircare, nailcare, and waxing.

 Golf

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 and the award-winning Makena Golf Course is less than five minutes drive south of Wailea, offering another high-level, ocean-view course.

  • Three ocean-view courses at the Wailea Golf Club, including the par 72, 7,000-yard Gold Course designed by Robert Trent Jones II
  • Makena Golf Course, also designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is set between the mountains and the ocean.
  • Golf carts are equipped with GPS as well as course tips and information.
  • Club rentals available
  • Golf lessons available

 Features

More features than anywhere else in Maui

The scuba pool
The scuba pool

At times overwhelming, the diverse range of features can keep you busy for days.

  • Free access to an enormous fitness center that rivals a syndicated gym: two floors filled with top-of-the-line cardio and strength training equipment; personal training sessions; wellness consultations; and free fitness classes available
  • Racquetball, squash, basketball or handball at the resort's "Challenge Court"
  • Small business center by the lobby, which has three Mac desktops (you can also switch to a Windows operating system) and a printer. Fees are charged.
  • Large business center staffed by an attendant who can help with photocopying, faxing, office-equipment rental, and worldwide shipping
  • Charming, New England/Hawaiian-style wedding chapel above a koi pond; more intimate services at the Victorian-style gazebos dotting the garden
  • On-site dive shop offers a full range of dive trips and a PADI certification program; plus free daily introductory scuba lessons in a separate scuba pool
  • Shops on-site include fashion boutiques, jewelry stores, cosmetics shops, and the Napua Gallery
  • Two-hour archery classes twice a week
  • No tennis courts on-site, but the Wailea Tennis Club is an 11-court complex less than a mile from hotel
  • Free bikes rentals (first-come, first-served)
  • Budget Rent-a-Car on-site

 Entertainment

Free Hawaiian performances and activities, plus a luau

Beach yoga
Beach yoga
  • Free twilight guitar concert at the main pool deck (check with concierge for schedule)
  • Botero Bar (in the lobby pavilion) features free live Hawaiian music every night
  • Free daily activities, including beach yoga, garden tours, and an art tour around the resort's $30 million collection
  • On-site luau, once or twice a week (fee for adults); but the best luau in Wailea is two doors down at the Wailea Marriott

 Family

Rope swinging a la Tarzan
Rope swinging a la Tarzan

Grand Wailea calls its kids' camp a "mini-resort," and rightly so. Camp Grande is a 20,000-square-foot facility with a video arcade, pingpong and foosball tables, a PlayStation room, a mini movie theater, and an activity room. Camps, programs, and workshops are offered for kids ages five to 12, as well as seasonal activities for teens (Spring Break, Easter, summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). The hotel also offers free guest activities like stargazing (for a fee) and fish feeding (free). These are all great options, but don't forget that the pools at this resort can keep kids busy all day long, and using the myriad water features doesn't cost extra.

  • Even the standard room can accommodate a small family. Some rooms come with a pullout sofa, or you can request a room with two double beds. All rooms can accommodate a crib (free) or a rollaway bed for a fee.
  • Connecting rooms are also available, but you'll have to pay an additional fee per night, per room to guarantee one.
  • Babysitting services can be booked through the front desk.
  • Day camps and night camps for kids ages five to 12 (for a fee)
  • Seasonal workshops include painting and sending your own coconut or making your own puka-shell necklaces
  • "Counselor-in-training" programs give 13- to 15-year-old teens the opportunity to assist the staff counselors in the daily activities and kids' programs.
  • Whale-shaped wading pool
  • No kids' menu, but kid-friendly food is available at all of the on-site restaurants.

 Cleanliness

Impeccable

Everything is spotless -- the guest rooms; the pools; the grounds. Just be aware that at any open-air beach restaurant in Hawaii, you're likely to see scavenging pigeons or gulls. Servers are quick to shoo them away, but they are persistent buggers.

 Food

Good, but pricey, variety on-site; more options within walking distance

Bento box at Cafe Kula
Bento box at Cafe Kula

With five restaurants, two bars, and room service, variety isn't an issue at this resort. From upscale lagoonside dining to a more affordable mixed-plate lunch on a garden-view terrace, options abound. And if you tire of eating at the resort, check out restaurants at neighboring hotels like the Four Seasons and at the Shops at Wailea, just a 15-minute walk away.

  • James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Wong's newest addition to Grand Wailea is Amasia. Opened in the spring of 2012, Amasia seeks to capture the flavors of countries the world over, including Peru, Singapore, and Spain. It will also feature a sushi bar and robata for grilled delicacies.
  • "Humu" -- short for Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, Hawaii's state fish -- is an open-air, thatched-roof restaurant set above a saltwater lagoon full of tropical swimmers. Small servings of tasty Hawaiian/Polynesian-influenced seafood dishes (open only for dinner).
  • Poolside Bistro Molokini features an exhibition kitchen and a Kiawe-wood-burning oven for Island cuisine like poke for lunch and pasta and pizza for dinner.
  • Set on a breezy, 3rd-floor terrace with sweeping views of Wailea Beach, the breakfast buffet serves mediocre American morning food, but the a la carte options boast Hawaiian-inspired dishes like the kalua pork omelet with a side of poi and haupia (both local staples).
  • For fast, more affordable food (and Starbucks coffee) there's Cafe Kula, a self-service cafe that has great mixed plates, like the large bento box full of kalbi pork or teriyaki chicken with rice and salads.
  • Volcano Bar at the pool deck is open only for lunch and serves burgers, hot dogs and fruity cocktails.
  • Botero Bar (in the lobby) serves light appetizers or pupus as well as fancy cocktails.
  • Room service includes entrees not available at the other restaurants, including a "spa breakfast menu" with healthy options like a spinach-and-egg-white quesadilla with shitake mushrooms. Note the room service charge; 20-percent gratuity, and tax.

 Bottom Line

The beautifully designed, 780-room Grand Wailea is awe-inspiring in its scale: It's got the best pool in Hawaii, one of the top U.S. spas, and a prime location on one of the best U.S. beaches. Opulence marks every feature -- from the luxe rooms to the massive gym -- but the resort's Disneyland-like vibe isn't right for everyone.

Things You Should Know About Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Address

  • 3850 Alanui Drive, Maui, HI, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Grand Hotel Wailea
  • Grand Resort Wailea
  • Grand Wailea
  • Grand Wailea - The Waldorf Astoria Collection
  • Grand Wailea Hawaii
  • Grand Wailea Hotel
  • Grand Wailea Maui
  • Grand Wailea Resort
  • Grand Wailea Resort Maui

Room Types

  • Ali'i Suite
  • Deluxe Garden Room
  • Deluxe Ocean Room
  • Deluxe Suite
  • Grande Suite
  • Molokini Suite
  • Napua Club Room
  • Napua Nani Suite
  • Napua Royal Suite
  • Napua Suite
  • Ocean Room
  • Terrace Room

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Nearby Hotels to Consider

Wailea Beach Villas
Marriott Wailea Resort
Four Seasons Maui
Andaz Maui At Wailea

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 780
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Maui, Hawaii
Address: 3850 Alanui Drive, Maui, HI, US
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