Indulge in Hawaiian island paradise at The Grand Wailea.
Michelle Hespe discovers a wonderland world of natural beauty, grand pools and life’s not-so-simple luxuries at The Grand Wailea.
The sweeping palm tree-lined drive leading to Grand Wailea’s majestic entrance is enough to take anyone’s breath away —vivid hot pink bougainvillea spilling from balconies and overhead walkways, a waterfall cascading down a volcanic rock face and tiers of immaculately pruned tropical gardens surrounding shimmering blue pools and manmade streams where outrigger canoes are laden with a riot of flowering bushes and ferns. And that’s only the entrance from the roadside of this Waldorf Astoria masterpiece. The other side of the hotel, fanning out along a beautiful stretch of Wailea Beach — silhouettes of islands in the misty distance — takes the concept of grand to an entirely other level.
Images courtesy of Waldorf Astoria, 2016.
The Grand Wailea attracts celebrities and royalty from across the world for a myriad of reasons, but the fact that privacy in two Grand Suites is paramount ensures that guests can escape from the world while absorbing it from high above. Mariah Carey recently stayed in one of the suites and other guests would not have even been aware that she was even there, her suite being tucked away behind gates leading to a private reception area with its own lounge, restaurant, concierge and butler.
The two 1,675-square-metre Grand Suites have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a grand piano, private lanai and wet bar. In the sprawling lounge and dining areas, no expense has been spared on the decor, and the views of the spectacular pools and the charming wedding chapel that the Grand Wailea is famous for lie below like the pages in a fairytale pop-up picture book. As Mariah knows only too well, it doesn’t get any better than watching a Maui sunset from a Grand Suite, especially when the resident dolphins and whales make exuberant appearances. The resort boasts many options for dining, with Humuhumunukunukuapua (named after Hawaii’s state fish) being the restaurant of choice for those after a memorable five-star experience in a Polynesian thatch-roof restaurant on a lagoon filled with tropical fish, complete with a cascading waterfall.
The suites, dining, shopping options, stunning beaches and some of the most beautiful gardens in Hawaii thoroughly enchant guests, but if its one thing that everyone has to experience during their time in this paradise where luxury and relaxation seamlessly merge, it’s the pools. The former owner of The Grand Wailea has a son confined to a wheelchair and so the pools were designed so that the boy could reach all areas of the pool areas via waterslides and the world’s only water elevator. A small steel door in one of the pool’s manmade rocky walls opens into a circular room like the funnel of a volcano, and there, around 16 people can perch themselves on a donut-like seat. The funnel then fills up with water that rushes in below, propelling the seat and its occupants up and out, so that riders can then continue along, sliding from one area to the next.
Many of the slides lead to another of the resort’s hotspots: the Grotto Bar. Here, rather than simply sit on a bar stool in a pool (which you can do), guests can also stand in the bar’s moody cave-like structure, cold beverage in hand, with water up to their chests, looking out upon the rest of the wonderful world that is the Grand Wailea.