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Located on the southwest shore of Maui, Wailea is known for its three championship golf courses, gourmet restaurants and row of oceanfront luxury resorts. It’s a part of Maui that has not been hugely popular with families due to the higher price tag of many hotels, but the new Residence Inn Maui Wailea hopes to change that.
“In Wailea, there are a lot of expensive luxury resorts, but there are not a lot of new, branded, quality, mid-tier properties,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager for Residence Inn and Marriott Executive Apartment Brands. “So Residence Inn Maui Wailea creates an opportunity for customers who might not have considered this destination before because they thought they couldn’t afford it.”
For the last 18 years, I have traveled to Maui with my children and have always opted to stay in Wailea because I love that the hotels are farther apart, making it feel quieter and less crowded than the popular Kaanapali area. But there is certainly an added expense to staying on that side of the island. As a long-time Wailea visitor, I was particularly interested to see how the Residence Inn would compare to its upscale neighbors, and I was happy to find that the property is not only beautiful and comfortable, but also warm and inviting; I felt as if I was being welcomed into someone’s home.
The spacious, two-level lobby takes full advantage of the property’s position on a bluff with gorgeous views of the ocean, and an open-air design captures the lovely Maui breezes. (On more than one occasion during my stay, I found myself looking for a reason to sit in the lobby and enjoy the view and those breezes.) The downstairs area opens up to the pool — which has amazing fire features at night — and provides a beautiful setting for the complimentary daily breakfast buffet. The buffet is fresh and plentiful and served from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The adjacent Bar Lounge serves delicious drinks — including local Maui Brewing Co. beer on tap — and light menu items and hosts a happy hour from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
According to Kaleo Kenui, general manager for Residence Inn Maui Wailea, the hotel expects that, during winter and summer, about 90 percent of guests will be leisure travelers and families. Kenui says he has plans to introduce many family-friendly events into the hotel’s program, as well as integrate Hawaiian culture through activities such as lei-making or weaving bracelets with coconut or shells. In addition, Te Au Moana, one of Maui’s best luaus — located at the hotel’s sister property, Wailea Beach Resort - Marriott, Maui — is just a short (and complimentary) shuttle ride away.
One of my favorite family-friendly amenities offered by Residence Inn Maui Wailea is that staff will grocery shop for guests at no additional charge. Clients just need to fill out the grocery list in their room — or give the hotel a list at the time of booking — and the items will be delivered to their room. As a mom who has traveled with young children (who later became hungry teenagers), this is a fantastic way to ensure that snacks will always be at hand.
With this first Residence Inn property in Hawaii, Mayer says she is happy to have the opportunity to introduce families to the brand. And with plans already underway to expand to Honolulu, she notes the hope is that more families will look to Residence Inn when they plan their Hawaiian vacations.