ANDAZ MAUI AT WAILEA
This is part of a blog series we post on Fridays.
For our honeymoon, my husband and I reluctantly decided we should go to Hawaii. Why in the heck were we reluctant, you ask? Because it seemed a bit cliché. We wanted to go somewhere exotic and different, somewhere people had never heard of and needed to research on a map when we named the location. But with only a weeks vacation available off work, spending a day on each end to get to a place like Suriname or Taha’a seemed like a waste. Plus, everyone we’d talked to said Hawaii is magical. We just didn’t quite grasp what ‘magical’ meant.
We started to get excited about the destination as we talked to the Points Guru, Drew, who told us about a new Hyatt hotel on Maui called Andaz. The hotel opened in September 2013, one year before our planned honeymoon travel date, and it had just made both the Travel + Leisure ‘It List’ and the Condé Nast Traveler ‘Hot List’ (One of the 33 best new hotels in the world). Shortly thereafter, we each opened Hyatt credit cards so we could use our two new membership free nights* there, providing four free nights in total at this 5-Star Hotel. I’d say it was a pretty good usage of those free nights… 🙂
When we arrived Andaz, the hotel looked rather unassuming, but once we walked down the open-air corridor towards the lobby, we saw the view out to the ocean and the chic, modern decor of the hotel’s interior. It was then that we realized this would be a very special stay. We were greeted by the hotel staff with traditional leis and complimentary drinks (great start!). They also handed us two white water bottles, branded with their logo, to use throughout the hotel (smart!) Lime & cucumber water jugs were placed strategically on each floor and at the pools to keep guests hydrated and happy. We may or may not have used those water bottles to bring a personally-mixed cocktail to the pool.
There are lots of great things about Andaz in general, but what makes the Maui location so special is the way the hotel is built around the land, instead of on top of it. Andaz was built on 15 acres of prime beachfront property, close to The Grand Wailea (Waldorf Astoria) and the Four Seasons. Andaz is quite different from most of these older, traditional hotels on the island. Designed by the architecture firm Rockwell Group, the hotel is sleek and modern, with a palette of neutral tones. The lava and whitewashed stone mixed with mahogany, teak and walnut wood finishes make the structure blend into the surrounding island scenery.
There are five levels to the hotel, with 297 guest rooms and suites throughout the property, including seven residential villas. Morimoto sushi and farm-to-table Ka’ana Kitchen are the two restaurants on the property, and there’s also Mokapu Market for take-out and snacks on the property, which is open 24 hours a day. From the bottom level of the hotel, you have access to a private beach. There are an astonishing five pools on the complex: four infinity pools, one zero entry pool on the ground floor and one hot tub on the middle level. Although we didn’t try Morimoto, we did make a reservation at Ka’ana Kitchen one night, and it was decidedly the best meal of our trip. In the mornings, Ka’ana also serves up a delicious brunch and buffet. The buffet seemed expensive ($45 per person), but looking at the spread of options, including a juice bar, eggs, pastries, several meats and cheeses, smoked salmon, bottomless coffee, and tons of fresh, local fruit and vegetables, the price was quite fair. (And filled us up through dinner!)
We had an early flight into the island, so in advance, we booked a couple’s massage, figuring that would give us access to the pool(s) and provide a home base at the spa until our room was ready. It was probably the most expensive massage I’ve ever gotten, but I still insist that it was worth every penny. The ‘äwili spa is located on the right side of the hotel, and has a private steam room and sauna, free for all hotel guests. Below the spa, there’s an exercise room, but rather than work out indoors, we opted for the sunrise yoga classes that the hotel hosted on their beachfront lawn.
Then there’s the rooms. Again, upon first glance, there was nothing flashy about the space; it was in the details that we really appreciated the hotel’s smart design. We had a standard king room with an ocean view and a small walk-out balcony. Every piece of furniture in the room had a purpose, and the pieces came together like a puzzle. The showstopper was the rain shower. Pressing a button on the wall, the white french doors that separate the bathroom from the shower fold back, providing an unobstructed view of the ocean through the shower’s glass wall.
We loved the black-out shutters, controlled by remote and or at your bedside tables, as well as the comfortable king bed and the plush robes. All of the amenities of a standard hotel room were also provided: free WiFi; coffee-maker and espresso maker; refrigerator; in-room safe; complimentary local toiletries; rotating flat screen television; cleaning services; and 24-hour room service. Each day, our refrigerator was stocked with fresh juice, waters, a couple fresh pieces of fruit, and a healthy salty snack. We also had a note from the hotel manager congratulating us on our wedding, and a complimentary bottle of wine at Ka’ana Kitchen.
We truly fell in love with the hotel when we asked for their help planning our drive on the Road to Hana. We’d heard it was a must-do, but could make for a long day, depending on when you go. They helped us plan our route, checked the weather, and gave us a map and lots of tips for when to leave, where to stop, and what to avoid. We didn’t rent a car at the airport, so we knew we’d have to rent one in order to do the Road to Hana. Conveniently, Andaz had an Enterprise rental car lot on their property, and they even had the convertible we’d been hoping to drive! For 24 hours, we used the car to drive to the Plantation House one night for dinner, left it in the parking lot overnight, and then used it the next morning for our trip to Hana. It worked out perfectly, wasn’t too expensive, and we didn’t have to make an extra trip to the airport to get a car.
Our flight leaving Maui was a red-eye, so we figured we’d have to check out, leave our bags somewhere, and then grab them before heading to the airport. But Andaz had thought of that dilemma already! They had a great solution- the Ohana Lounge. For guests arriving before their check-in or staying past check-out, the Ohana Lounge was available and offered a bathroom, showers and lounges space with a tv and library so you could enjoy your first and last minutes on the island. The room was decorated as smartly as the rest of the hotel and was so appreciated after such a comfortable stay.
*In order to qualify for the free nights, you have to spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening the card. For more details about the Chase Hyatt Credit Card, click here.