It’s not often I ask my husband if our hotel room is bigger than our condo, but at Maui’s Fairmont Kea Lani, it’s a fair question. He pointed out that our suite at this family resort didn’t have an attached garage, but who needs one when you have valet parking?
The only all-suite hotel on the southwest side of Maui, it’s situated on 22 acres of tropical terrain in the ritzy Wailea area. Here, you can spot whales breaching from your hotel room, or get close and personal with these giants while paddle boarding or learning traditional canoeing, one of the authentic Hawaiian cultural experiences offered by the resort.
While I took in an early morning canoe lesson and managed to run along the Wailea Walkway each morning, my brood was content to spend their days boogie boarding and body surfing in the waves at Polo Beach. Beaching, bathing, bellying up to the pool bar, it all works up an appetite.
Fortunately the hotel has a robust buffet brimming with all sorts of delicacies. I was thrilled to find umeboshi (pickledJapanese plums) and dim sum, while Eve brunched on waffles, bacon, white rice and nori (seaweed strips). “You know it’s a good buffet when they have a waffle bar,” Eve insists I add.
For a posh nosh, the hotel’s award-winning, signature restaurant, Ko, serves up plantation-inspired cuisine. Meaning: lots of sugarcane, macadamia nut coatings and mashed taro (attractive in appearance, disappointing in taste). What’s most striking about this restaurant is the background music. When you realize you’re listening to a cover of Stairway to Heaven, and you actually don’t mind, it’s pretty good. When you then notice the music is live, it’s even better.
Naturally our precocious child ordered lamb chops. Distracted Jody thought it was the lamb pops from the appetizer menu, but no, it was a $48 rack of lamb entree. And yes, she polished off the entire thing (minus the taro).
It’s hard to find a bad room at this all-suite hotel when each is a minimum of 860 sq ft. All rooms come with a pull-out couch, mini fridge and massive balconies, accessible from both the living room and separate bedroom, that makes escaping from the ankle biters easy and enjoyable.
It’s this separation between child and state that makes Kea Lani so rad. A tricked out kid’s club attracts kids five to 13 years, and a sleek, adults only pool ensures couples a tranquil dip. Two family pools are connected by a water slide and the upper pool has a bar, but you don’t want to get too carried away.
“Just for perspective, your cocktail at the pool bar cost more than my case of beer,” warned Dan the killjoy.
Thoughtful touches pervade the property, such as poolside jugs of water, sunscreen and aloe vera gel for immediate relief.
This resort hit all the right buttons: warm tropical breezes, tiki torches lighting the pathways, and cheery children’s activities that emitted the essence of aloha, or at least everything I imagined a tropical paradise to be.
Images courtesy of Fairmont Kea Lani, who hosted my stay. As always, my opinions are my own.
Have you ever been to Maui? Where do you stay?
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