I had my eyes on staying at Grand Wailea for a while now, after watching the movie Just Go With It ten years ago. On my first trip to Maui, I stayed at the Westin in Kaanapali and enjoyed the area, but never ventured down south to see the Wailea resort area. It was a good opportunity to stay at the Grand Wailea on my recent trip as I could explore the Wailea part of the island as well. After a stellar experience at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, I was excited to try out the Grand Wailea, which actually was the first hotel to join the Waldorf Astoria in 2006 after the Manhattan hotel became a brand.
I booked the Grand Wailea all the way back in April for my trip at the end of September. There was standard award availability at the 95,000 points per night rate for the dates I wanted. I had my 2020 Free Weekend Night Certificate (which can be used any day of week currently) as well as my 2021 certificate from my Hilton Aspire Card so it was perfect for a two night stay. I called the Hilton Honors team, and booked my stay with my certificates. I really do wish they allow you to book online in the future as it would be a lot easier.
It seemed to be a great use of the certificates, as the cash rates for the two night stay was right under $2000 which is pretty steep. Most of dates are already booked for the rest of the year and next year for standard points rewards, so if you want to stay here you’ll have to book early and be flexible.
Award redemptions with Hilton Honors waive the resort fee as well which is nice.
Before my flight to Maui around 10am the day of check-in, I went on the Hilton app to see if I got any upgrades and could pick my room on the Hilton app with online check-in. Sadly, no upgrades popped up so I didn’t choose to complete the online check-in. I messaged the hotel on the app to ask if any upgrades were available, as the hotel had many upgraded room types available to book online for my dates. The hotel team quickly replied, and informed me that they could give me a Diamond upgrade to the Deluxe Ocean View category. Yay! In terms of room types at the Grand Wailea it goes from Terrace View < Garden View < Ocean View < Deluxe Ocean View.
It was immediately reflected in the app, and looking at the (massive) hotel floorplan and being very indecisive, I chose a room on the top floor (9th) of the Molokini Wing, but then when I checked in I was actually given a room on the top floor of the Wailea Wing. Maybe the front desk knew more than me! She said that our room would have a very nice view.
The Grand Wailea opened in 1991 and is quite large, with 776 guestrooms. The guest room towers are actually situated a bit further from the beach, so no rooms are “Ocean Front”.
The two closest towers to the beach and pool are the Chapel Wing and Lagoon Wing. The only have 4 floor (Ground to Third) so they won’t have the best ocean views. In fact, most of the rooms in these towers are Garden View rooms.
The Wailea Wing, Haleakala Wing and Molokini Wings are situated further back from the ocean, but since their top floor is the 9th, they have better views apparently.
Currently, the Napua Tower which also used to feature the Napua Club Lounge is under construction. The hotel added the Omotenashi Lounge, which you can book a package to gain access to that serves like the “replacement” of the Napua Club at the moment with breakfast and light bites.
The hotel is designed interestingly, with most of the towers only having one side with rooms, with the exception of the Molokini Wing. This way, most rooms are facing the Gardens or Ocean. If you book a “Terrace View”, those are only offered in the Molokini Wing and you will be situated there.
Arrival + Check In:
As of my current stay in September/October 2021, the main lobby and entrance is under construction, so the Makena South Entrance is used as the lobby and valet entrance. Only valet parking is offered at this time and it is $65 per night which seemed a little high to me. Before the renovation, self parking was available, but not currently.
We arrived to an empty porte-cochère, and were quickly checked in at the front desk. Fresh flower leis were given to the ladies and the traditional bead necklace for the guys. The front desk representative was very friendly, and said our room with the Deluxe Ocean View on the 9th floor of the Wailea Tower would have one of the best views on the property. She also said we came at a great time, as two days later 300 people were scheduled to check in. It’s funny as our stay was I would say occupancy at the hotel was probably only 40-50% as the facilities were quite empty and room lights were scarce. I enjoyed the relaxing and quieter atmosphere of this normally large and bustling property.
Walking To the Room/Construction:
Our room in the Wailea Tower would normally be very convenient to the valet and the main lobby, but the current temporary lobby is all the way on the other side of the hotel in the Molokini Wing (sigh!). So we had to take quite a bit of a hike from the temporary lobby to our room, while passing the main lobby under construction.
The construction was not the prettiest to look at, but it didn’t really disrupt my stay as my room was far enough from the construction that I didn’t hear too much noise.
Getting off the elevator at the 9th floor of the Wailea Wing, we discovered that the corridor was completely outdoors. It was kind of nice to have the open air, but I also noticed it could use some updating. I imagine it is a bit harder to upkeep than something completely indoors, and it’s definitely showing its age.
Upon arrving at the room, I noticed that the door could use some TLC.
Upon entering the room, to the right is the closet with these incredibly annoying and impractical folding doors. For starters, the aisle way to the room is quite narrow, and you have these folding pocket doors from the closet and the bathroom and they take up so much space in the walkway when opened. Not a great design, I hope when they renovate the rooms they just install sliding doors.
To the left was the bathroom which was spacious and had a shower, tub, large sink and separate W/C. They could totally fit double sinks, and I hope they do so when they renovate the bathroom. It is a bit outdated, and it looks like the only thing they changed recently was the small brown mosaic on the tiles, the painting and the mirror. The tub was quite dated, and in pretty bad condition for a supposedly 5 star hotel.
The shower was a bit dissappointing, with poor water pressure, and fixtures that have seen better days. Toiletries were hotel branded, from the Spa Grande. It was a nice Honey Mango scent.
In terms of the room, the furniture has been refreshed at least.
The queen beds were comfortable, and sheets were branded with the WA stitching. The only thing I found kind of odd was that each bed only had 2 pillows. Most hotels would have 4, 2 in the back and 2 in the front. This bed was designed for that as well, because there was a gap between the headboard and the mattress for the back pillows. Odd!
The TV and Desk felt recently refreshed, and there were ample places to charge your devices with plugs and USB charging.
Only a Keurig was provided (No Nespresso or hot water maker?), and it only had coffee capsules, sorry tea lovers! There was a mini-fridge for personal use as well. My favorite amenity provided by the room was the reusable Pathwater bottles (2) given instead of normal plastic bottles. It’s a cool refillable aluminum water bottle, and was branded for Grand Wailea. A cool concept and cute souvenir!
Views from the Lanai!
The Deluxe Ocean View was very nice, even with it being situated a bit back from the ocean.
The furniture seemed a bit outdated, but it was sufficient.
The website states the room is 640 square feet, but it actually doesn’t feel that roomy. I think it must be including the outdoor lanai. Overall, the bedroom was comfortable with newer furnishings, but the bathrooms need a major revamp.
The Beach + Location:
The beach was probably my favorite highlight of the hotel. Included in the resort fee are beach chairs and umbrellas starting at 7am that you can request from the Activity Desk and a staff member will set it up for you.
The beach was great, and walking into the ocean was not rocky at all which was nice. We were lucky as the hotel and beach was not crowded, so it was very relaxing and nice to go into the ocean.
In terms of the location, the Four Seasons is right next door and on the other side, you could also walk to the Shops at Wailea which is a 5 minute walk from the front entrance of the hotel. Here they have designer stores, as well as restaurants.
The resort fee is $45 per night (waived on award stays) and includes:
- A one-time 45-minute photography session with Pacific Dream Photography (scheduled in advance)
- Unlimited local, toll-free, and credit card calls (no access fee)
- Two refillable bottles of PATH water on day of arrival placed in the guestroom; water refill stations located
- Participation in beach yoga and outdoor fitness classes
- Hula and ukulele lessons
- Admission to twice-daily SCUBA clinics
- Use of Beach Cruiser Bikes (based on availability)
- Beach umbrellas for use on Wailea Beach (based on availability)
There are some clothing, art and jewelry shops in the hotel, a few of them were closed during our stay and some were under construction. There were nice gardens to walk through, and plenty of pools.
The fitness center was open for 24 hours, but you need a fitness center key provided by the front desk. Reservations were required between the hours of 5:30am and 10:30am.
There is also the Mohalu by Spa Grande at the resort that’s open. I didn’t visit the spa, but it seemed like it was being renovated too.
The hotel offers plenty of dining options. I tried the flagship restaurant, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (try saying that three times fast, it means Reef triggerfish in Hawaiian), for breakfast one morning and it was actually a solid breakfast experience! As a Hilton Diamond, I got $50 per night to spend on food/beverages so $100 for the 2 nights, and was able to have that credit (most) of the breakfast.
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is really cute as it’s on a floating lagoon with the Polynesian themed roofs.
For a Maui resort, the breakfast pricing was fair, and the food was tasty!
The best value was the Breakfast Bundle: Ham Croissant Breakfast Sandwich for $19. It also came with coffee, tea or juice! And it was quite delicious.
Other dining options include Bistro Molokini which is right next to the pools and it serves lunch and dinner, the casual grab and go style Cafe Kula for lunch and dinner, Wailea Surf Haus for some bar food and bites and room delivery from Cafe Kula for breakfast and dinner (not lunch). There’s also the Aloha Trick Pony Taco Truck that serves lunch.
Overall, the Grand Wailea is on pristine oceanfront and has a grand hotel feel. However, the hotel feels a bit past its prime, with updating needed in the guest rooms and the grounds needing to be revamped, especially when they are selling rooms for $1000 a night. In its current state, the Grand Wailea models more of a Curio Collection hotel rather than emulating the prestigious Waldorf Astoria with its outdated grounds and guest rooms. For using my Hilton Free Night Certificates, I was satisfied with my stay, but would be very disappointed to pay the going cash rate. I hope the hotel receives a complete renovation to bring the hotel up to Waldorf standards. I think I want to try the Four Seasons right next door on my next visit to Wailea.
Have you stayed at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort before? What were your thoughts? Comment below!