Andaz Maui at Wailea, on Maui’s south shore, has been one of the year’s most anticipated properties in Hyatt’s pipeline. Andaz is a relatively new brand for Hyatt that aims to capture the luxury market with smaller and very personalized hotels. There also hasn’t been much new construction on Maui for several years. Andaz Maui stands apart from other hotels on Maui by offering its guests a more contemporary design as well as the first LEED-certified hotel on the island.
I requested a tour during my recent visit to Maui, and while it’s no secret that construction on this resort been delayed, they had just received the all clear to stop using hard hats and other safety gear — a very positive sign. The hotel still expects to open sometime late this summer. To celebrate, I also asked my guide if they could offer a giveaway for my readers (scroll to the bottom to learn more).
Arriving Is an Experience All Its Own
Andaz Maui is about 20 minutes from Kahului Airport (OGG), and valet parking attendants greet all guests. I know mandatory valet parking can be annoying, but it fits with the Andaz mission that guests leave their cares at the door. I’m cheap and often try to do self-parking even at big resorts, so I know how that can add a little extra stress every time I try to take the car somewhere.
Guests then pass through a covered walkway with fountains on both sides. You’ve probably seen this picture before in renderings, and it looks similar to that scene from Skyfall where James Bond floats across the water to the casino in Macau. There will be vegetation and lamps added here, but no current plans for tiki torches.
The entry hall is vast space with exposed wood beams and floor-to-ceiling windows. Designers deliberately planned this area to avoid distractions and ensure the first thing you see when you enter is the Pacific Ocean. The sliding glass walls can also open when it isn’t too windy.
Like at other Andaz properties, guests will be greeted by a “host” who will check them in on an iPad and offer a welcome beverage while they relax from their journey. Although Andaz properties do not have a Regency or Grand Club, they do offer complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages here and in the room.
This Isn’t Your Parents’ Hawaiian Vacation
Andaz Maui was renovated from what was once a Rennaissance hotel and designed by the same team responsible for Andaz Wall Street. You’ll notice many of the same clean lines and modern touches.
I thought it felt very different for Hawaii, but I was raised on the old Hawaiian aesthetic of the 1960s and ‘70s: lots of dark wood, woven furniture, and pictures of bamboo and palm trees. Andaz Maui is definitely a modern beach resort of the sort more common in Miami’s South Beach. Still, I found it very hard to fault any of the design choices.
One benefit to staying in Wailea is that Andaz Maui is situated adjacent to Mokapu Beach and Ulua Beach, two relatively secluded areas with excellent snorkeling and swimming. Several parts of Kaanapali Beach on Maui’s west shore are relatively rocky, making it difficult to spend time in the water. For those who would rather go shopping, The Shops at Wailea are just two blocks south and don’t require driving.
Rooms and Suites That Make You Forget the Beach
I was able to tour both a standard room and a suite during my visit to Andaz Maui. There are standard rooms with garden/resort views, partial ocean views, and full ocean views. Award nights tend to book into the garden/resort view category, although Gold Passport members with Platinum or Diamond status may get assigned to a room with a partial or full ocean view.
When entering a room, guests will use a touch-free RFID key card — the same kind you’ve seen at Andaz Wall Street and probably a few other hotels. High tech sensors will turn on the lights, and switches will allow you to raise and lower a shade and blackout curtain (they’re very quiet). Past the window is a fairly large balcony, although I didn’t see what kind of patio furniture would be available.
One side of the entryway has what looks like a wall of closets, one of which is a hidden door to the bathroom. Every bathroom, in suites and standard rooms, has a large, rainfall shower with a glass window that looks past the bed to the view of the ocean. It’s really cool, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such nice bathrooms in Hawaii. Suites will also have a separate soaking tub. (Note: All room photos are of a standard room, but all bathroom photos are of a suite. They are very similar except where indicated.)
The living space has a desk, lounge chair, and bed pointed toward the view. In most cases the television is recessed and faces the lounge chair — which I prefer — but it does swivel out for those who like to watch television in bed. A small nook holds an electric teakettle and other minibar items. One positive development for a coffee snob like me is that management is taking in-room coffee seriously. Starbucks will be offered at first while they continue to examine their options.
Suites will have a separate living room that includes its own balcony, a dining table, and even a cocktail cabinet with a sink for preparing drinks. The suite I saw was still under construction but had great views of the resort and ocean from both rooms. A few suites don’t have ocean views, and instead have patios that open up to provide direct access to an adults-only plunge pool on the opposite side of the resort.
Finally, the hotel has a small number of private residences in a series of detached buildings (they’re visible to the right of the pools in the picture above; more are near the adults-only pool). Some of these will be available to hotel guests and could be a great choice if you’re visiting with a large family. Fortunately they won’t be building giant condo towers of the kind you see elsewhere.
Pools, Restaurants, and Other Amenities
There will be five pools and five options for meals and refreshments at Andaz Maui. Three of the pools are a series of infinity pools with lava rock waterfalls on their edges, descending to a lagoon pool (not yet filled) near the beach. None of these pools are very deep, designed more for lounging than kids’ play. Don’t forget about the adults-only pool if you are still worried about noisy children.
Two lounges with all-day dining menus await guests by the top of the infinity pools and at the bottom near the lagoon pool. But those who arrive late can also take advantage of a 24-hour market located near the main lobby. They will provide snacks, prepared food, and even hot sandwiches.
Back in the lobby, there is a large spiral staircase that leads to the hotel’s two main restaurants. The first, open for breakfast and dinner, has an open kitchen and is where you can take advantage of your complimentary breakfast amenity if staying as a Diamond guest. The second is a new outlet of celebrated chef Masaharu Morimoto — yes, the same Morimoto from Iron Chef!
The hotel has a variety of meeting spaces if you want to host an event, though it probably isn’t large enough for a large corporate event with hundreds of people. Still, many of the meeting rooms I saw had large, sweeping views of the ocean with floor-to-ceiling windows, and some interior rooms had ample skylights.
I’m not sure I would actually get much work done in a meeting room like this, but on the plus side, I’m told the view mimics that from the Presidential Suite.
One of my favorite spaces was the demonstration kitchen. It was large enough to fit dozens of people, and some of the countertops can be refrigerated for preparing cold dishes. This space can be used to host special cooking demonstrations for private events. The resort is also exploring the possibility of offering cooking classes as one of many possible activities, but that decision won’t be made until after opening. (The demo kitchen in this photo continues around the corner with additional islands, stoves, and ranges.)
Should You Redeem Points?
Let’s end with a brief talk about value. Hyatt’s other property on Maui is a Hyatt Regency, one of the first resorts to open in Kaanapali. I have stayed there multiple times, including on this trip. It has a great location, nice décor, and friendly staff. But I also admit that it has some shortfalls. Free night awards hardly seem worth 22,000 points when published rates can be as low as $250. Suites are nice, but they are on the far ends of two towers that require a very long walk to anywhere.
So while I will pay cash for Hyatt Regency Maui, I’m not sure it is a worthwhile redemption for free night awards or suite upgrades. Andaz Maui definitely will be. Suites are spectacular. Even if you are in a basic room with a resort view, the in-room amenities are generous and the walk to public areas is short.
I always say to value points based on what you would pay, not what the hotel charges. Andaz Maui delivers the experience you would expect for such a premium price, whether in cash or points. They aren’t just charging you for the location. I’m sorry the resort wasn’t open for guests during this trip, but Andaz Maui is definitely part of my plan the next time I visit Maui!
Win Three Free Nights!
Andaz Maui was not only kind enough to let me tour the property, they also offered a generous giveaway to my readers! One lucky winner will receive three free nights in a standard room at Andaz Maui at Wailea once the resort opens later this summer. Some limited blackout dates may apply, such as major holidays, but the award will be good for one year (through July 31, 2014). Daily resort fees may apply.
To enter, please provide your first name and an email address so we can contact the winner. Your personal information will not be used for any other purpose. Additional bonus entries are also available. Like or follow Andaz Maui (or me) on Facebook and Twitter, or send out a tweet to encourage your friends to enter the giveaway! A total of six entries are available per person, and you must enter by 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on Friday, July 19. The winner will be randomly selected by July 22.
Disclosure: Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of Andaz Maui at Wailea. I received no compensation for my review or for organizing this giveaway.