Luxury in Wailea: A review of the Four Seasons Resort Maui
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On a recent trip to Hawaii, I went to Maui for the first time, and while I was there, I spent three nights at the Four Seasons Resort.
Many of my colleagues here at TPG are no strangers to Hawaii, or to Maui in particular. In fact, many of the major points hotels in the Wailea resort area have already been reviewed on the site. In Wailea alone, Marriott has the Wailea Beach Resort, Hyatt has the Andaz Maui and Hilton has the Grand Wailea.
So with all the points options already reviewed, I really took one for the team and checked out the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. I had elite-status "lite" on account of booking through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program, and what follows is my experience at one of Maui's best hotels.
Four Seasons Resorts don't participate in any points programs, so there was no way of getting out of the nightly room rate. Rates at this property start at about $550 a night and can go really, really high. I, of course, selected a shoulder season for my visit to keep my cash outlay as low as possible.
Even though I couldn't use points to cover my stay, I booked the room through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts portal to unlock incredibly valuable inclusions that would've otherwise cost even more money.
I didn't have to pay any extra to book through the Amex FHR program, which is open to all Platinum Card® from American Express and Centurion cardholders.
My booking included the following extras: daily breakfast for two people; room upgrade at check-in, subject to availability; noon check-in, when available; 4pm guaranteed late checkout; complimentary Wi-Fi and $100 food-and-beverage credit
So yes, the property was expensive, but these extras (often only available to a points property's top-tier elites) helped soften the blow.
If you don't yet hold an Amex Platinum card (but with 100k Membership Rewards welcome bonuses floating around on CardMatch, you really should!), you could book the hotel via Hotels.com/Venture for 10x miles when paying with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Couple the 10% back earned with the Hotels.com rewards program offering one free night after every 10 nights, and you're getting an effective 20% discount on the room rate.
Me? I like freebies too much to pass up booking through Amex.
As I mentioned, the Four Seasons is in the Wailea area of Maui. Situated between the Grand Wailea and the Fairmont Kea Lani, this west-facing hotel is nestled perfectly for sunset shots.
As part of the Wailea resort area, there are plenty of nearby golf courses and restaurants. My favorite part of the resort's location was the amazing walking path along the coast, which went all the way from the Andaz Maui in the north to the Fairmont in the south.
The only downside to this prime location was the sheer number of people around (and at the hotel). With thousands of hotel rooms within a mile radius, people were everywhere. If you're looking to relax without anyone around, you should stay elsewhere.
After the 30-minute drive from the airport, we were ready to begin our relaxation. And when we pulled up to the resort's beautifully lush entrance, we knew we had stepped foot in paradise.
The open-air lobby was just as nice, featuring inviting seating, gorgeous paintings and opulent flower arrangements.
We were immediately escorted to the check-in counter, where a friendly agent greeted us with fresh leis, scented cold towels, succulent pineapple wedges and two glasses of ginger-mint lemonade. It doesn't get much better than that.
Although we had arrived at 1:45pm, our room wasn't yet ready. The agent profusely apologized for being unable to honor our noon early check-in and invited us to use the hotel's arrival and departure lounge while we waited for our room to be readied.
We wanted to maximize our time in the sun, so we headed straight to the lounge to change. The lounge was essentially a large suite that was converted to accommodate guests with early check-ins and late checkouts.
Once the 3pm stated check-in time elapsed, I started getting antsy. At 3:15pm, the manager on duty called to apologize for the tardiness and offered us a three-category upgrade to an ocean-view room.
Instead of heading back to the lobby, the manager then met us at the pool with room keys in hand and took us up to our ocean-view room.
Room 405, an oversized king room, was really nice. The neutral brown and gray hues fit perfectly into the Hawaiian theme.
When it was sunny outside, I loved relaxing on the rectangular outdoor lanai, which featured a full-sized couch and smaller chair. We only had partial ocean and resort views, but I wasn't complaining, since the resort's foliage was beautiful as well.
At night, however, the highlight of the room was the plush bed. I seriously wish my NYC apartment were large enough to fit one of these beds.
The large nightstands next to the bed had personalized iPads as well as AC outlets and USB ports.
Aside from the bed and lanai, the room had a comfortable sofa, oval coffee table and a small working area with two chairs.
Waiting on the desk was a welcome amenity consisting of coconut cookies and a chocolate tart.
Near the entrance of the room was the large closet with plenty of hangers and safe. There was also a baby-blue beach bag hanging in the closet.
Right next to the closet was the minibar and Nespresso machine.
The impressive marble bathroom perfectly contrasted with the neutral hues of the bedroom.
The shower water pressure was great, and I appreciated the separate water closet.
Toiletries were nicely scented and provided by a local brand, Lōkahi.
Though there wasn't much drawer space in the bedroom, there was a large dresser in the bathroom with plenty of drawers and counter space.
Finally, I found the complimentary Wi-Fi to be useless, since it was capped at 500 kbps of download and upload. The upgraded Wi-Fi package was $20 a day (before taxes), which definitely felt like I was getting nickel-and-dimed just to work efficiently during my stay.
Food and Beverage
Everything I tried at the hotel was delicious. We started our mornings with the scrumptious breakfast buffet served at Duo Steak and Seafood. The restaurant converts to the steakhouse at night, but the breakfast menu featured a range of international classics.
There were multiple buffet stations featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, parfaits, juices and smoothies, donut-and-bread bar, cooked dishes like bacon and sausages and a few Asian selections.
I primarily enjoyed the create-your-own omelet bar, which also served delectable pancakes, waffles and other daily specials.
Not sure who is at blame here, but I found the included $30 daily breakfast credit to be quite limiting. With three buffet options, the Amex credit only covered the continental spread, so I needed to pay out of pocket to upgrade to the full island buffet.
On the last morning, I decided that I'd had too much of the buffet, so I ordered an acai bowl instead. It tasted as good as it looked.
We had a $100 food-and-beverage credit to use, so we splurged for dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Maui outpost, Spago.
The restaurant was one level up from the breakfast restaurant, and our outdoor table had great views of the coastline.
Dinner began with a delicious assortment of breads. Special shoutout to the raisin walnut bread.
I then ordered a tomato soup ($21), which definitely hit the spot on the mildly chilly evening.
My girlfriend and I then split two fish entrees: She ordered the ginger macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi ($46), while I ordered the steamed opakapaka prepared Hong Kong-style ($48). We absolutely loved both fish dishes, and looking back at the pictures, I may have just dreamt about returning just for the fresh fish. At this point, we were so full that we skipped dessert.
We didn't have any leftover F&B credit to try the hotel's third restaurant, Ferraro's Bar and Ristorante, though we did overhear guests saying that they enjoyed their Mediterranean/Italian meals there.
There was plenty to do at this beachfront hotel -- definitely enough to stay put for a few days.
As expected, most people kept to one of the resort's three pools. The main pool featured a centerpiece fountain, flanked by two good sized Jacuzzis. The pool here was definitely the largest of the three, but wasn't necessarily massive.
Just a few steps away was the kids' pool, which wasn't too deep and featured an artificial rock waterfall to entertain the youngsters.
Lastly, there was a popular, adults-only rooftop infinity pool with great views of the coastline and nearby mountains. There were many lounge chairs in this quiet enclave, but these were also the most popular chairs in the resorts (with most being filled by 10am).
The infinity edge wasn't too wide, but it was quite long, and the longer edge of the pool extended back toward the resort. There was more seating here, including several cabanas for rental.
There was a nice private beach with plenty of chairs and umbrellas.
Throughout the entire pool deck, there were 67 cabanas, all of which were complimentary. I found this to be an awesome perk of the hotel. The cabanas each had two lounge chairs, which worked great for couples. If you were vacationing with your family, you could ask the pool staff to set up adjacent cabanas, which seemed to work great for the families near us.
For those into relaxing over UV rays, there were a few lounge chairs set up on the main deck.
There was complimentary sunscreen and water throughout the entire pool and beach area (sans resort fee!).
To work off the breakfast buffet, there was an indoor/outdoor gym available 24/7. The outdoor gym was dedicated to the cardiovascular equipment: treadmills, bikes and ellipticals made by Matrix, as well as two Peloton spin bikes. The indoor weight room was well stocked with a variety of different machines and a full set of free weights.
For rainy days, there was an indoor Ping Pong and foosball table right next to the gym.
Lastly, the resort's spa was also on the ground level near the gym. There was a large locker room with steam room available to all guests. We did indulge in massages, thanks to this Groupon offer, and found them to be excellent.
I'm conflicted about how to judge the hotel's service. No one we interacted with was unfriendly or rude to us throughout our stay. In fact, every staff member greeted us with a smile and wished us a pleasant day. The hotel's manager on duty was also incredibly friendly and apologetic when they couldn't offer us a room at the published 3pm check-in time.
Although our service interactions were pleasant, I'd say that this hotel was missing a bit of the Four Seasons touch that I'd experienced in other resorts like the property in Koh Samui or Chiang Mai. Admittedly, the service culture in Thailand is markedly different from that in America, but a Four Seasons is a Four Seasons.
I think that most of this service touch was lost during our stay because of how crowded the property was. Aside from the crowds, there were private events like weddings and conferences going on all day long, which made the resort feel more like a resort factory than a beach retreat.
Case in point: We couldn't get seating by the adults-only infinity pool during our stay, since all the seating had been taken by people who lined up at 6:45am in preparation for the pool's opening at 7am. Similarly, seating at the main pool area got quite limited once most guests headed to the pool after breakfast. When we got to the pool, we were then told that part of the seating area wasn't available during the afternoon because of a private event going on at the poolside lawn.
So while this wasn't the fault of any particular employee, it definitely dampened our enthusiasm for the Four Seasons in Maui. Fair warning: If you're used to Four Seasons' legendary service, you may leave a bit disappointed.
The Four Seasons in Wailea is a beautiful hotel with lots to do and plenty to eat and drink. The property and rooms reflect a relaxed Hawaiian vibe that blends perfectly along Maui's coastline.
However, the hotel is big and hosts lots of private events, which, in our case, came at the expense of the personalized service experience that I've come to expect from a Four Seasons resort.
Would I return? 100%. I'd just come back with a slightly different perspective on what to expect from the service, and I'd be set for a great vacation.
All photos by the author.