Skip it: A review of the Destination by Hyatt Wailea Ekolu Village in Hawaii
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with information from owners at the development.
The Points Guy is rich with reviews of hotels in Hawaii. When we were looking into stays in Wailea on Maui, we had trouble finding properties that hadn’t already gotten the TPG review treatment.
One intriguing opportunity was the various Destination by Hyatt properties that are now available for booking in the World of Hyatt program. Back in 2018, Hyatt announced it was acquiring Two Roads Hospitality and the Destination properties.
Destination Hotels became Destination by Hyatt in 2019 and only became bookable in the past year. TPG’s Zach Honig stayed at the other Destination property on Maui at the end of the Road to Hana — the Hana-Maui Resort — in July.
I chose the Wailea Ekolu Village, which is a Destination by Hyatt Residence. It was a decent value, but there were service issues, and next time I’d stay closer to the beach.
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Read on for our full review.
Destination Residences Wailea is made up of a series of condos spread out over a wide swath of Wailea. The eight separate properties include the brand-new Hoolei Residences, the Wailea Ekolu Village where I stayed and Wailea Elua Village, among others.
TPG booked this one-bedroom condo for 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night. That’s a pretty good deal considering I also didn’t have to pay the egregious resort fee because I booked with points. I am a World of Hyatt Globalist, but all World of Hyatt members get waived resort fees when they book with points. That’s a major perk of the World of Hyatt program.
Keep in mind these are privately-owned condos that are rented out Airbnb-style through Hyatt. While it’s not a traditional hotel it is rented out like one via Hyatt.
Related: What is World of Hyatt status worth?
The unit I rented goes for $419 a night for dates in June next year. That’s high to me. Add another $60 a night in taxes and $40 a night for the resort fee. Ouch. I’m glad we paid with Hyatt points. I did find some nights available for just $319, which I would feel more comfortable paying, though when you add taxes and that resort fee, you are still over $400 a night. That’s way too much for this property, in my opinion.
The location in Wailea is great if you are planning daytrips on your vacation around Maui; however, if you want easy access to the beach you should book elsewhere.
The Wailea area is popular with tourists and features several major luxury resorts within a 30-35 minute drive of Kahului Airport (OGG).
But many of the Destination properties are not near the beaches.
I found the location especially inconvenient if you want to go to the beach. It’s hard to find parking near the beaches if you don’t want to walk.
The Wailea Beach is a good 25-minute walk from the condos. Same deal with the Mokapu Beach, as Zach Honig pointed out in his review of the nearby and new AC Hotel by Marriott Wailea.
The Shops at Wailea outdoor mall is about a 15-minute walk from the Destination Residences condos, but be aware you’ll need to walk back uphill to get home.
This is where the Ekolu Village really let me down. There is no lobby. I had tried to reach the property several times before my stay to add my Globalist number to the reservation but had several failed attempts. I either got no one picking up, or I got put through to voicemail and then the call wasn’t returned. I did manage to finally reach someone a couple of days before my stay to add my Globalist number, but I didn’t receive any other communication about checking in.
When I finally arrived, I first went to the office you can see above, but the woman there told me that wasn’t the lobby and I would need to drive to another location. I followed her directions but never did find anyone. I ended up going back to the office after driving around fruitlessly for another 15 minutes, got another set of directions and then tried to follow them again to no avail.
I finally asked someone in one of the parking lots who was getting into her car, and she told me there was no lobby and I would need to call. Again, I had trouble reaching anyone. When I finally did, they told me they would call me back when I could check in (I was a little early, though as a Globalist I should have been able to get early check-in).
I was eventually able to start a text chain with the property, but that was also very frustrating.
I don’t know if it was the fact that they didn’t have my correct phone number or what the problem was, but the end result was several hours of stress while I waited to hear back from their team. I did get to go on a hike they suggested at La Perouse Bay, but it was the most frustrating check-in at a hotel I’ve ever had.
I finally got a notification via text more than two hours after our first conversation that the room was ready. They send your unit number and a lockbox code (think Airbnb-style) via text.
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Once I was finally in my room, things improved. There was a welcome note, a pineapple, two shell leis and a bottle of local wine.
Here’s how Hyatt describes the unit.
The unit is large and a family of four could comfortably stay there.
There was an outdoor deck with views of the (far-off) ocean, and two beach chairs and an umbrella for the use of guests.
There was a large living area and a separate full kitchen packed with everything you might need for an extended Hawaii stay.
There is a pullout couch that turns into a bed, though I pity whoever ends up getting that sofa bed as it is not comfortable at all.
The bedroom was lovely, with its own outside seating area, lots of storage and a separate bathroom.
The queen-size bed was fairly comfortable though the bedding seemed a little thin and not top quality.
I loved the shower gel, soap and hair products made by Shanghai Tang.
One of the other things I loved about the condo was having a washer and dryer. After more than a week in Hawaii, I really needed to do laundry. It was super convenient to have that amenity.
One annoyance was that I could hear my upstairs neighbors all day and all evening during my whole stay. If you have upstairs neighbors, know that you will hear them, especially if they are loud. The ceiling seems a bit thin. Thankfully, my neighbors upstairs kept decent hours, so I was able to sleep just fine.
There are lots of avian visitors to the condo, which are fun to watch outside on the lawn.
Wi-Fi speeds were great. I had no trouble uploading or streaming Apple TV.
The condos definitely have a late ’80s/early ’90s vibe with pink bathtubs and period furniture. Water pressure was just OK, though the hot water was really hot, which isn’t always the case.
There are just two small pools on the property, but the one near my unit was closed for maintenance and the other one was a seven-minute walk. There are no hot tubs and the pools are tiny and get crowded.
Food and beverage
There are no food or beverage options on the property. You’ll need to drive or take a long walk to get food. The property does offer to “pre-stock your kitchen with Wailea dining essentials or grocery shop prior to or after your arrival.” You can also arrange for a private chef.
Related: A review of the Hilton Waikiki
When I asked the hotel for a restaurant recommendation, they suggested a few options in the Rainbow Mall about 3 miles away or the Monkeypod Kitchen at Maui Gateway, which is just a half-mile from the property.
I discovered my own treat — a beachside food stand called Whale’s Tale. The food and service were excellent. Totally worth the 25-minute walk from my unit.
I found service, like food and beverage, to be nonexistent. Here’s how the website describes what’s available, but I didn’t find that easy to get.
Literally the only physical contact I had with any staff at the hotel was seeing a few workers drive by me one time in a property minivan.
If you are looking for top-notch service or easy access to staff, this isn’t the way to go. My arrival process was pretty much a disaster, and there was little follow-up and what was given was way delayed.
It’s hard to complain about spending a few days in paradise using points, but the Destination by Hyatt Ekolu Village is a skip for me. It’s not convenient to restaurants or the beach. I’m not sure why they are charging a resort fee for such limited amenities. The service was the biggest issue. There’s nothing that will mess up a stay more than a bad check-in experience.
This was a good deal using points for the stay, but if I’d have paid cash I would have been upset.
My recommendation? Try one of the nearby beachfront resorts. The Wailea Beach Resort looked really intriguing for my next trip.
Visit TPG’s Hawaii destination hub for more stories about getting to the islands, staying on the islands and what to do while you’re there.
Featured photo of Wailea, Hawaii, in July 2021 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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