Beautiful but Cold: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii13th October 2018
The Andaz Maui is one of three Hyatt properties on Maui, and it’s the highest-end of the bunch. If you’re into design, love a good multitiered pool and want a more “exclusive” feel to your island vacation, this could be an ideal spot for you.
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I booked my two-night stay through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, paying with the Platinum Card from American Express. Booking through FHR entitles you to perks including early check-in, late checkout, daily breakfast for two and a $100 on-property credit. The total cost quoted at the time of booking was $978 — and that didn’t include the pesky resort fees I could expect to be added at this (and practically every other) Maui hotel. The daily fee here was $45, or $10 more than the resort fee at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and the Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott.
If you’re looking to book an award stay, the Category 6 Andaz will set you back 25,000 Hyatt points per night. However, this property has an infuriating policy that makes it difficult to redeem points for stays. There are very few rooms that fit into the points-redeemable category, and you can only use points to reserve longer stays. Basically, you’re going to need a whole lot of World of Hyatt points to stay at this property. The one upside is that you can easily earn Hyatt points with the World of Hyatt credit card, or you can transfer Chase points over to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
The Andaz sat on the main hotel drag in Wailea, on Maui’s west coast. That’s not to say that this resort area felt chaotic or busy: Each property had a separate entrance and felt like its own contained universe, though they all technically shared a beach. The hotel was about a 30-minute drive from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG).
As soon as I stepped out of the car (a courtesy ride from Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort which was just three minutes away), I was greeted with a beautiful, fragrant, white-flower lei. I walked through the modern archway toward the open-air reception and could tell I was in for a treat.
The property had a lovely, minimalist design, and I could see multiple levels of pools and the ocean below.
A woman from reception led me to a seating area near a cool sand-art installation and said she’d be right back to check me in.
She brought me a cold towel and some lavender lemonade. The whole vibe was very high-end but friendly, not snooty — it reminded me a bit of being in other trendy beach destinations like Bali or Tulum.
Since I booked through Amex FHR, I was able to check into my room right at noon. And thanks to the upgrade benefit that also comes with FHR bookings, I ended up in an ocean-view room with two queen beds. I only needed one bed, but she said this was the best available room, so I was more than happy to take it.
I was also given a beach bag and a reusable bottle with a reusable straw. The water bottle was fitting, given the Andaz Maui’s eco-friendly ethos.
My room was on the sixth floor in a tower directly off the reception area.
I dug the vibes as soon as I stepped foot in the room.
The look was hippie-surfer chic meets minimalist, with lots of white and light wood and an eclectic mix of art. And everything was pristine.
Like seemingly every hotel room in Hawaii, this one had a lanai.
From what I heard at check-in, I was expecting more of a head-on ocean view rather than a partial view that overlooked the hotel pool with the ocean in the background. But I wasn’t that disappointed — it was still a pretty awesome view.
The room had a modular feel, with lots of sliding doors obscuring the closet, bathroom and shower area when not in use.
There were two drawers underneath the wall-mounted flat-screen TV, in addition to a small desk area.
The room was stocked with Maui potato chips and cookies, along with a kettle and trappings for making coffee.
I loved that there were plenty of outlets right next to the beds, including both three-pronged outlets and USB ports.
The controls for lowering and raising the shades and blackout blinds were also right by the bed, and they were pretty intuitive. There were controls for accent lighting and the overall room lighting next to each bed as well.
And controls for room lighting, as well as for setting a “do not disturb” light or a request for the room to be cleaned, were right inside the entrance to the room. No “privacy, please” door hangers here.
The shower/bath setup, along with the entire bathroom wing of the room, felt a bit claustrophobic to me.
I got what the designer had in mind with the modular, tucked-away layout, but in practice, everything felt too cramped and narrow.
The bathtub was awkwardly behind the shower — the setup felt like a recipe for disaster if someone accidentally slipped and fell.
Across from the shower, the toilet was tucked away in another modular-style compartment.
The bathroom was stocked with Malie toiletries. They smelled nice but weren’t overpowering.
I struggled to get a good picture of the closet, which was also built into the modular bathroom area and pretty small (though it had the essentials).
Food and Beverage
I had my first meal of my stay at the hotel’s lagoon pool, which is an especially great option for tiny kiddos, since a large part of it is super shallow.
It took me about half an hour to flag down a server (which seemed to be a theme with me traveling solo on this trip), which was annoying. Staff came around with complimentary ice cream mochi for guests, and that made its way to me before I was able to even place my order.
Once I was finally able to flag someone down, I ordered the vegetarian pupu platter, which came with hummus, pita and a selection of fresh vegetables. Everything tasted very fresh — you could tell they paid attention to ingredients here — and the server asked me if I wanted hot sauce, then came back with two HI Spice options.
Breakfast was included in my rate thanks to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, and it was served at the Ka’ana Kitchen restaurant, which included a lanai overlooking the water. The buffet selection was great, with even more fresh fruit than I saw at the Ritz-Carlton and the Marriott, plus plenty of pastries, hot dishes and made-to-order omelets. It was an expensive meal, if you’re paying for it: $49 before taxes and gratuity.
The hotel’s dining options skewed high-brow, both in palate and in price — there was even a Morimoto on the property. Other options included the more casual Lehua Lounge, the grab-and-go Mokapu Market and the Bumbye Beach Bar, where I had my first meal.
I had one room-service meal: mushroom risotto ($21) and a tomato-and-burrata salad ($16). The meal was tasty, but the menu was limited — I would have preferred more vegetarian choices.
There was no list of hotel amenities or services in the room, though I did receive a schedule of daily activities when I checked in. I wanted to use my Amex FHR $100 credit at the spa but had to look up the treatment menu on the hotel website. The lack of printed hotel information in the rooms could have had something to do with the Andaz Maui’s LEED Silver certification and obviously “green” philosophy, but, then again, there were printouts for room service and for the hotel’s luau experience on the desk in my room.
I did make it to the spa, though, and it was worth it. I got a body treatment ($185) to help heal a bad sunburn, and it really delivered. The staff even gave me the full-size tester of aloe from the spa shop as I was checking out.
The Andaz had a high resort fee even by Hawaiian standards — it was $45, compared to $35 at the two other hotels I stayed at — but it attempted to make that more palatable by listing all the “unique” activities and amenities it covered.
I didn’t take advantage of any of these perks, though. I asked if the courtesy car could take me to Kihei, about a 10-minute drive away, and was told that wasn’t Wailea and therefore no. Fair, but I got the feeling that the staff at the Marriott would have taken me. And, on another note, something told me the 45-minute beach portrait session would have had printing fees attached.
Perhaps the best amenity of this property was its good looks. The buildings themselves gave off mid-century Hawaiian vibes, and, of course, those pools. The stack of several infinity-edge pools cascading down from the open-air lobby was really a pretty sight.
Beyond the pools, the Andaz boasted a great beach, easily accessible from the lagoon pool.
Of the three hotels I was reviewing on my trip to Maui, I had the highest, or at least the most specific, expectations of the Andaz Wailea resort. My colleague Nick Ewen had a picturesque stay in 2016, and it did live up to the visual hype.
But I didn’t think the Andaz was perfect. While I loved the design and the pools, the overall vibe felt a bit austere. And though I didn’t really ask much of the hotel staff, my annoying experience ordering lunch at the pool made me realize this wasn’t most service-oriented resort.
If I could combine the aesthetic of the Andaz, the accessibility of the Marriott and the warmly luxe touches of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, I think I’d have my perfect Maui resort. Since this is an especially popular Maui hotel, I’m curious to read all your experiences in the comments below!