Pretension-Free Beach Bliss: Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott in Maui
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To The Point
It’s not the fanciest resort on Maui, but this property has it all — from two beaches to five pools and plenty of activities for families. Pros: tons of activities for kids and families, lots to eat. Cons: basic room, inhospitable server experience at the pool.
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I hotel-hopped around Maui in September, and Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort was my second stop, after an all-around great stay at the preppy Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on the northwestern side of the island. Though my room wasn’t the fanciest, the resort’s amenities and beachfront location made for an awesome stay.
My stay was booked through Hotels.com, to take advantage of the 10x miles with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card when you book a room through the Hotels.com link and pay with the card through Jan. 31, 2020. The two-night stay cost $1,119, not including the daily $35 resort fee that was applied to the bill I received upon checkout.
The Wailea Beach Resort is a Category 6 property in the Marriott program, requiring 50,000 points per night at the standard rate. Off-peak and peak rates, which take effect in 2019, will be 40,000 points and 60,000 points, respectively.
If you’re not chasing status with Marriott or any other hotel chain, this is a great way to book, since you’d earn 10x miles on your purchase and could redeem those miles to cover travel expenses. You could also work toward a free night (one for every 10 paid nights) through the Hotels.com Rewards program. So stacking those two together, you’d be looking at an effective 20% return.
This resort sat on a much more populated stretch of Maui than the Ritz-Carlton, which was almost an hour away from the airport by car. The Wailea Beach Resort, by contrast, was about 30 minutes from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG). This was convenient on both the arrival and departure ends of my trip. The Wailea area of Maui didn’t feel remote or exclusive, but the beaches were gorgeous.
And this resort was sprawling, sitting on 22 acres and offering access to not one but two beaches for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, tons of activities on the ground and more.
While there was lots to keep me entertained on the property itself, it was also near plenty of shops and restaurants in the Wailea area, and the resort offered courtesy cars to destinations in Wailea on a first come, first served basis.
My mom joined me for my stays at the Ritz and this Marriott resort, and we made the approximately hour-long drive down from Kapalua to Wailea, arriving at the Marriott resort a bit after our 3pm check-in time.
The parking valet staff was friendly, and other employees swooped in with beautiful orchid leis as soon as we stepped out of our rental car. (Valet parking cost a whopping $40 per day, by the way.)
The check-in associate quickly updated my reservation to a room with two queen beds rather than one king. She also gave us chilled tropical fruit juice and cold towels, a packet with information about the hotel and coupons for two free mai tais at the pool or the poolside restaurant.
The two-bed, garden-view room wasn’t fancy, but it didn’t feel overly cramped, either.
It was pretty much the basics: two beds, a bathroom and a closet with ample space.
There weren’t a lot of design flourishes, but everything was clean and new.
The bathroom had a combo shower/tub, definitely less appealing than the separate shower and tub we had at the Ritz.
The lanai (balcony) mostly overlooked a road that appeared to be for staff use only.
We could see a sliver of the ocean all the way to the left, though.
There was a large flat-screen smart TV and a combo desk/dresser setup.
There was also one indoor chair placed to the right of the dresser near the lanai, which we really only used for storage. We appreciated that the room had a mini-fridge stocked with just two water bottles — it was perfect for storing leftovers.
Food and Beverage
I’m happy to report that the mai tais at the Wailea Beach Resort were strong and served with the essentials — pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry and all. We redeemed our free drink coupons at the bar by the pool and enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a great view.
The room-service menu was pretty large. We ordered penne with marinara ($19) and a farm-greens salad ($19). The salad was very good, but the penne was bland.
I enjoyed a kale salad (also $19), which came with glass noodles, crispy onions and fried tofu cubes, at the Kapa Bar & Grill. It was super casual, but that’s exactly what I wanted.
Other dining options included the Mo Bettah food truck off the hotel path to Wailea Beach, and Whale’s Tale, a coffeehouse that also served cold-pressed juices and smoothies. The hotel also offered a luau and could arrange private oceanfront and cabana meals.
Breakfast was included in my room rate and was served at the Humble Market Kitchin restaurant by Roy Yamaguchi, a leading chef in the movement championing Hawaiian cuisine. The restaurant had great views of the ocean and the island.
The breakfast buffet was great. There wasn’t an omelet station, but I didn’t miss it. There were plenty of options, from lox and other savory spreads to pastries and hot dishes like curried cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Breakfast was included in my room rate — a la carte, it would have cost me $34.
My server topped up my coffee multiple times and brought me over yummy POG (passionfruit-orange-guava) juice.
There was a lot going on across the Wailea Beach Resort’s 22 acres, from the five pools (one with a waterslide) and three golf courses to an on-site spa, plenty of beachfront water sports like snorkeling and a freakin’ escape room (seriously).
There weren’t many children at the resort when we visited, since school had just started back up, but the Wailea Beach Resort would be an obvious choice for families. There was a kids club, a movie house with beanbag seating, games room, life-size chess, giant Connect Four, a cornhole toss and sand art(!).
There was even a selection of ukeleles to strum in the open-air lobby.
I loved the beaches, and while I didn’t go snorkeling during my stay, plenty of guests were out there enjoying the underwater view.
The resort offered guests first come, first served access to beach chairs and umbrellas at Wailea Beach. We missed out on this our first day, since they were closing up shop at about 5pm, but we still had an absolute blast swimming in the (very warm!) water.
I loved the pools as well.
However, this is where I had my only less-than-awesome customer-service experience. I grabbed a chair under an umbrella at the Maluhia adults-only pool, with a plan to read, work, enjoy a drink and maybe order lunch.
I was traveling solo at this point, and the poolside servers taking food and drink orders didn’t seem to be coming by my area. I didn’t want to be rude and flag them down when they were busy with other guests, but after about 30 minutes of zero luck, a man seated next to me got a server’s attention, so I asked if I could place a drink order with her as well. By her tone and her demeanor, it was clear she was not happy that I had asked her that, though she did take my order.
A bit later, she offered literally everyone around me ice water but skipped me. She even immediately closed my bill after the drink order, even though I overheard her tell other guests she’d keep their tabs open in case they wanted to order anything else. I had wanted to order food, but after that bad-vibes moment, I was ready to head elsewhere anyway.
The upside of this poolside experience: Staff came around with delicious banana bread for guests — I even saw a man get all the way in the pool to deliver samples to swimming guests.
Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort has a great location with not one but two great beaches, and overall I had a great stay. The pools are beautiful and plentiful, and there is no shortage of dining options and activities on the property. My room was pretty basic, but I found it to be comfortable and was clearly renovated recently. I’d recommend this resort to families and any other travelers who value plentiful options over a more luxe resort feel.
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