Front and Center

Already a world-class destination, Wailea is putting itself on display

By: By Marty Wentzel


Destination Resorts Hawaii

Diamond Wailea Resort & Spa

The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa


Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Wailea Beach Villas

Web Exclusive

Click here for information on the Maui Film Festival at Wailea

Wailea Resort is on a mission. In the coming year, the 1,500-acre master-planned southwest Maui retreat wants to showcase not only what it has become, but where it is going as a world-class destination. To help achieve that goal, the Wailea Community Association recently created a new position, marketing and communications director, and brought in respected industry guru Kathleen Costello for the job.

The Maluhia, a new infinity-edge pool at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa // (c) Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
The Maluhia, a new infinity-edge pool at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

"My directive is to keep Wailea fresh in the minds of travelers from around the world while supporting our wonderful island," said Costello.

The first of Wailea’s visitor accommodations — the Maui InterContinental Resort — opened with a splash in 1984. Today, Wailea dazzles with thousands of hotel rooms and condominium units, many linked by a public pathway along the waterfront, plus five beaches, three golf courses, a tennis center, stores, restaurants and residential subdivisions.

Costello has plenty to promote thanks to a busy 2008 for Wailea’s hotels. Among the destination’s recent additions is the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa’s infinity-edge, adults-only pool. Called Maluhia — the Hawaiian word for serenity — it’s a no-cell-phone zone with overwater cabanas and oceanfront views.

At the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, last year’s lobby lounge bar renovations doubled the seating for sunset watching and cocktail sipping. The luxury hotel also launched the Artists Showcase program, where clients can go on walking tours of its Hawaii-influenced art collection. This spring the Four Seasons is opening its third pool, a $9 million gem with an infinity-edge design, freestanding and swim-up bars and Pacific panoramas. The adults-only area promises six 190-square-foot luxury cabanas with flat-screen, high-definition televisions, Internet access, ceiling fans, refrigerators, lockers and chaise lounges.

Additionally, change has come to the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa, which finished a $50 million restoration of its guestrooms. The hotel’s spa upgraded its fitness center, while outside, the Wailea Canyon activity pool got fresh color schemes, new tile and plaster and technological upgrades to its slides and water elevator.

Since December, clients staying at the area’s Diamond Wailea Resort & Spa could take part in the Diamond Beach Club. The new amenity provides a shuttle down to Wailea Beach where a beach chair, parasol, cold water and beach towel service await guests.

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui debuted a spa lounge and outdoor spa cabana last year. Its pool areas received all new decking, lounge chairs, cabanas and tables. Ko, a new restaurant, opened its doors in June. The hotel completely remodeled its business center, including new computers. And, Kea Lani installed cutting-edge eco-mode thermostats as part of its environmentally friendly initiatives. Watch for the upcoming opening of the hotel’s new Keiki (children’s) Club.

Wailea’s newest accommodation, called Hoolei, is comprised of private, three-bedroom townhomes that clients can book as short-term rentals. Located across the road from the Grand Wailea, it appeals to travelers planning extended stays and family gatherings. Guests can enjoy its pool with a swim-in grotto, a 19-foot waterfall, a children’s pool, whirlpool tubs and a state-of-the-art fitness center with oversized showers and sauna, plus access to the Grand Wailea’s amenities.

For shoppers, a convenient, new commercial hub called Wailea Town Center offers a wine store, hair salon, floral gallery, fitness club and other retail options. For art lovers, the new Art on the Green in the Wailea Gold and Emerald Clubhouse showcases original works on display, with artists on hand to discuss and sell their creations.

In 2009, Wailea will continue to make headlines with new experiences and opportunities for visitors, said Costello. Among them is the first annual Maui Art Glass Expo, which opened on Feb. 1 and runs through March 31 at the Wailea Beach Marriott. Clients who stop by the show can see 250 glass artworks created by 25 international artists.

Wailea is in the process of building a new destination Web site, slated to go live in the spring. Calling it "one-stop shopping for the destination," Costello said it will provide online access to everything clients and agents want to know about the area.

Meanwhile, Wailea is creating a resort association to generate further excitement.

"We are already fortunate to have a community association that has established a sustained level of cooperation between commercial, hotel and residential properties," said Costello. "The resort association is the next step in keeping Wailea at the top of everyone’s list."