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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Our Hawaii Vacation: Wailea (Part 2 of 3)

*** So, as I was looking through my pictures for this part of the trip I realized that, well, there weren't all that many. I think I was getting in full vacation mode at this point and just forgot to capture things on film. Needless to say, this part of the recap is going to be quite light in the picture department. ***

After taking a very quick flight from Kauai, we landed at the Kahalui airport around 2pm in the afternoon. Per our usual routine, Jim ran to get the rental car while I stayed at baggage claim to get our bags. And they actually came out quickly -- wonders never cease!

Usually when we vacation on Maui, we stay in Ka'anapali, but to shake things up a bit, we decided to stay for 3 nights in Wailea. Then we would spend the last 5 nights of our trip in Ka'anapali. Jim and I had attended a friend's wedding last year at the Grand Wailea and Jim was dying to go back and actually stay at the hotel for a few days. So, thanks to the help of our american express travel points, we booked a 3 night stay there --- without having to auction off a kidney ;)

The Grand Wailea is a huge resort and spa that sits on Wailea Beach in the southern part of Maui. "Over-the-top" is a perfect description for this resort. The entrance is jaw-droppingly beautiful and the common areas are over-run with lush landscaping and water features. You really can feel the stress just melting away when you walk in.

Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we made our way to reservations, got our room key and schlepped our way out to our room. See, the hotel is huge, so it takes a while to figure out how everything is laid out and how to navigate the maze of hallways and elevators. But, we were not disappointed once we finally found our room.

We dropped off our bags, quickly changed into bathing suits and then hit the pool! Which is a treat in and of itself; 3 major waterslides, water elevator, lazy river, multiple levels of pools connected by mini-slides, several hot tubs, pool bar... basically a water playground right there on property. And the best part -- most of the kids were already back in school so it was mainly just adults using the facilities. Beyond fun! We don't usually utilize the pool much while in Hawaii (hello! the ocean is right there), but this one was so elaborate, we had to take advantage of it. (images below from trip advisor)

We got to the pool so late, that we only had about an hour or so before the slides and most of the pool area was closed for the evening. We headed back up to the room to shower and get ready for dinner. Both of us were in the mood for steak, so we snagged an early reservation at Ruths Chris Steakhouse located at the shopping center next door to the hotel. We've always heard good reviews about the place and and wow! It did not disappoint. I sadly don't have pictures of the food (sorry!), but it was mouth-wateringly good. We started with stuffed mushroom caps (we could not get over how perfect they were), I had the petite filet, Jim had the new york strip steak and we shared roasted asparagus and gratin potatoes. The meal was just amazing!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and had after-dinner drinks and dessert at Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (say that 3 times fast!). The restaurant sits on top of an open-air saltwater aquarium, which had Jim absolutely mesmorized. We opted not to have dinner there as we had heard that the food had gone down in quality over the past few years. Our cocktails and my ice cream was good, but the peach creme brulee that Jim ordered was meh. We thought we made the right decision regarding dinner.

The next morning we woke up early, grabbed a quick bite at a cafeteria style cafe in the hotel and then headed down to Makena Beach (aka Big Beach) for the morning. Makena is really popular with boogie boarders and sand surfers and it never fails so see a bunch of local kids there showing off their crazy skills. This time we even saw an amateur photographer there taking pictures of the kids and then offering to send them the jpegs once he got back to the mainland. It was really cool to see these young kids all excited about the prospect of having professional-style pictures of themselves doing flips and tricks on the water.

After a few hours, we headed back up the coast for lunch at Maui Tacos (great food, very decent prices), rented snorkel gear then tried to find a hidden little beach -- Po'olenalena Beach -- close to our hotel that my father-in-law suggested. After several misses, we finally found it. A long gorgeous strip of white sand that was practically deserted. There wasn't much shade there -- a bummer for little casper white me -- but we eventually found a little patch of tree cover that I was able to tuck myself in to keep from burning to a crisp. The snorkeling was really good; tons of tropical fish, brightly colored coral and a sea turtle that gave us a weary look but still swam right next to us. So cool!

For dinner, we had made reservations for Nick's Fish Market, about which we had heard fantastic things. The service was out of control good; Jim ordered a mai tai and I kid you not it was one the table 2 minutes later, perfectly concocted. The food, however, was just okay. Considering this was a pretty expensive place, we were expecting a lot more. The salad we had as an appetizer was the best part of our meal, but my lobster tail and Jim's fish was nothing special. The strawberries flambe for dessert was impressive in looks, but was under-whelming in taste.

The walk back to the hotel that night was hilarious. For some reason, the cliffside pathwas connecting all of the hotels in Wailea has no lights and let's just say we were really tipsy. I couldn't stop giggling because we couldn't see a darn thing and were lucky to be able to stay on the path at all. Ha!

Our last full day in Wailea was centered around relaxation, pure and simple. After a small breakfast at an outdoor cafe, we made our way to Spa Grande for massages. Jim had had a massage there last year as part of the pre-wedding activities for the groomsmen and after seeing how amazing it was, made sure we scheduled a trip there for our vacation. The best part of Spa Grande -- the 1-hour hydrotherapy that comes standard with any spa treatment. Spa patrons are granted 1 hour of access to the 3 hydrotherapy rooms that contain: a roman jacuzzi tub, cold plunge pool, 3 waterfall massage tubs, series of 5 aromatic baths, japanese furo bath, swiss jet shower, redwood sauna and eucalyptus steam room. In addition, each person is treated to a complimentary honey mango exfoliation scrub.

I cannot say enough about his place. It is so relaxing and totally gets your body ready for whatever treatment you have booked. Of course, the hour goes by much too quickly, but it is a really great experience. After the hydrotheraphy, you are taken to a co-ed outdoor lanai overlooking the hibiscus pool and the ocean to await your spa treatment. I saw Jim there for a brief minute and he looked as blissed out as I felt. Both of our massages were quite enjoyable as well, but really, the hydrotherapy was by far the best part of the spa experience.

View from the lanai

In the afternoon, we went back to the pool area to lounge around, read and take advantage of the waterpark-like pools and waterslides. Rough, I know. ;) For dinner, we ate at a bistro on the hotel property which was pretty good. Afterwards, we changed back into our suits and took an evening dip in the adults-only hibiscus pool. Aside from a teen-aged boy (why he was there, I'm not really sure), we had the pool to ourselves. A perfect end to a great stay at the Grand Wailea.

General Thoughts:

  • Our room at the hotel was very nice and clean, however, we realized after the first night that the room was quite damp and it never really dried out. On top of that we found several mosquitos hanging out in our room and we did get a few extra bites from them. Looking back, we should have complained to the front desk and have them move us, but I think we were so blissed out by that point that it never crossed our mind to say anything. We would to stay here again, but would ask for a room not on the ground floor and if there was a problem, we'd say something.

  • I have heard that the pool area is quite obnoxious during the summer because it is just overrun with screaming children. This is the beauty of be able to vacation during the school-year -- no kids to deal with! I'm not sure we would have had as much fun if we had been there at the peak of summer.

  • Like I mentioned earlier, Nick's Fish Market is great for service, but the food is just okay. I don't think we'd eat there again for a full meal, instead we'd try another one of the restaurants in the area.

  • Overall, we really enjoyed staying in Wailea as it made visiting the beaches in southern Maui much easier for us.


  1. I love that there's a restaurant named after every young speller's fave Hawaiian word.

  2. Everything sounds so wonderful and relaxing! I can't wait for Part 3 :)

  3. I am loving the vacay recaps. Helps me live vicariously through you. :)

  4. Sounds so awesome and relaxing. Hey! Looks like Jim was on the dark side of the beach in that one picture. ;) That hotel lobby looks awesome.

  5. aaahhhhh, ruth's chris. that's where we had our wedding dinner.

    i'm so way excited for our trip now!