Monday, February 20, 2012


As you all know by know, we spent the last six days in Maui celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary. Because this was our third time back to Maui we spent a lot more time relaxing at the resort than sight seeing and exploring. It made for an incredibly relaxing trip, although it was not without its problems.

We flew Alaska Airlines direct from Oakland to Maui and I have nothing but good things to say about this airline and this flight. I don't know if you could ever convince me to fly anyone else to the islands after our last two flights with them.

We returned to the Fairmont Kea Lani - where we had been married - and I'm somewhat torn on this decision for a couple of reasons. Obviously this place has a lot of sentimental value for us, and it's undoubtedly a beautiful resort, but there were things about our stay that were somewhat frustrating. To start, I'm not sure - for us - it's the best value (obviously a five star resort is never going to be a good deal, so I'm using the term "value" to encompass a whole lot of intangibles that I'll discuss further on).

Whereas we normally go to Hawaii for a week, we reduced our trip to five nights because of the cost differential between the resort and our usual condo rental. The last time we were in Maui five years ago we rented an ocean view condo up in Kapalua for $289/night. It was, up to that point, the most amazing view we'd ever had so aside from the somewhat nasty weather on the west side of the island it was a wonderful place for us to stay. I could watch whales breaching from the bed - seriously. On subsequent trips back to Hawaii we typically use our timeshare to book nice, but not luxurious, one bedroom condos that come out to about $800/week with our yearly dues.

For this trip we booked a package trip (air, car, and hotel) via Expedia for $3495 because it seemed like a good deal. In hindsight I think if I was planning the trip again I'd book everything separately because I'm not sure it actually saved us all that much money (despite what Expedia will tell you). Also, when dealing with people at the front desk, it was very clear we were treated differently than if we had booked through the hotel directly as a few people mentioned that we booked through Expedia. In fact, our check-in paperwork very clearly called out that we booked through Expedia. I think this is why our first room, despite paying more to upgrade to a better view when I initially booked online, was pretty unacceptable. We were supposed to have a view of the resort grounds but not the ocean. What we got was actually the wall of the condos next door, and a driveway for the service carts to use to go down to the bottom of the resort. Buggies were driving by every two or three minutes. No privacy, and no view. For $400 a night, I don't think so.

We complained, mentioned our Fairmont President's Club status, and were told they had a couple of rooms on the other side of the resort. We asked about view and proximity to the ongoing construction (which I had been told when we booked last year would be completed by 2012 but is still ongoing through the end of April). We were told that there was a room available that had a view of the resort grounds, but that you could see the construction but weren't actually near it. We decided to check it out and everything seemed fine. What we didn't realize - because it was during a lunch break - is that the room next door was being completely remodeled. When we moved over there we were immediately assaulted with the sounds of heavy construction. It sounded like our room was giving birth to a demon. You could actually feel the walls vibrating. I wanted to cry.

We went back to the front desk and the lady working there was kind of a bitch about it. Yes, we were being somewhat high maintenance, but we were also being treated unfairly I thought. I got the impression - more than once - that the staff there thought they could shove us in a crap room and we'd be so grateful because we were just happy to be there. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to be there. But I'm NOT a Motel 6 kind of gal and I don't expect to be treated like one. Not to sound like an uppity bitch, but I've stayed at Ashford Castle for crying out loud, paid less, and was treated much better for the experience. So, the lady we talked to said she needed to talk to someone else and we should have a seat. After a couple of minutes we spoke with an Assistant Manager and he told us he'd put us back in our original room and that he'd upgrade us to a better room the following day. At that point, I didn't even care about the upgrade. I just wanted to get away from the demon construction, but I was thrilled that he was willing to give us a room with a view.

By this time it was already the late afternoon so we'd pretty much lost the first day dealing with room changes and snotty attitudes from front desk staff. Truthfully, I don't even remember if we got any beach time in that first day. There are no beach pictures on my camera, which is odd for me. I feel like we got maybe an hour or so in before going back to the room to change before walking down to the beach for sunset, and then along the 1.5 mile Wailea Beach Path over to the Shops at Wailea for some shopping and dinner.

So the resort itself is stunning. Just gorgeous. From the lobby, to the rooms (suites) themselves, to the restaurants, the pools, and beaches, everything is what you'd expect from a top-of-the-line beach resort. We visited several beaches during our trip, and the beach fronting the resort, Polo Beach, was among my favorite on Maui this time. The sand is powder fine and the waves are big enough to be fun, but not so large as to be intimidating (except for one day when we had abnormally high surf along the southern coast). Having not stayed at any of the other resorts in Wailea I don't know if it's better than some of the others. What I can tell you is that if we go back to Maui I'm not sure we'd ever stay there again, which is really sad because I wanted to love it - and a lot of it I did - but after this trip I'm just not sure a big resort is for us and I'm not sure the cost matches the value for how we like to vacation.


  1. I can't wait to vacation there again one day.

  2. I'll get to this in the trip wrap-up, but I think we're done with Maui. It's not that it's not awesome, but we prefer Kauai and the Big Island. We'll have to take a family trip to Kauai's North Shore some year. That's my absolute most favorite location (which is funny because I didn't really love Kauai the first time we went).


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