I had planned a four-night stay on the island of Maui on my journey across the Pacific Ocean, and was looking forward to enjoying a few days by the beach before embarking on our road trip in New Zealand.
Of course, Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations among continental North American vacationers, so it quickly became apparent that I was unlikely to score any smoking-hot deals on any of the beachside resorts, and would probably be paying through the nose regardless of whether I wanted to use cash or points.
I pored over quite a few options on Maui: both the Grand Wailea Maui, a Waldorf Astoria Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua had the luxury brand-name factor, but the actual quality of the hotel seemed disappointing for the brand name and price point. Meanwhile, the Andaz Maui gets glowing reviews, but I didn’t really have any Hyatt points on hand, and the cash rates were also at a level where I wasn’t sure if I’d be getting comparable quality in return.
In the end, I decided to stay at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui, mostly because I found a way to book it at a decent value using my Marriott Bonvoy points. My stay in early December fell on off-peak dates, so I was able to redeem 40,000 Bonvoy points per night for the Category 6 hotel, and furthermore I used a free night certificate worth up to 40,000 points (which I earned as an Annual Choice Benefit of achieving Titanium Elite status) to cover one of those nights.
(Unfortunately, the hotel has recently been bumped up to Category 7 as part of Marriott’s annual devaluations, so a free night stay would require 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 points for off-peak, standard, or peak. That could still be a decent value, given that the nightly cash rates often top US$500/night, but as you’ll see in the review, I’m not sure if it’s a good deal for the quality of the hotel.)
In This Post
- Location & Arrival
- Premium Ocean View Room
- Pools & Beach
- Breakfast & Meals
- Other Facilities
- The Best of Maui
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui – Location & Arrival
As I usually do, I had reached out to the hotel beforehand via email to inquire about a few things, including what the Titanium Elite breakfast benefit would be at the resort and whether there would be any chance of a complimentary suite upgrade.
My latter request was “duly noted on file” and would be “subject to availability upon check-in”; combine that with what I had read online about the mediocre elite treatment at this resort, as well as the fact that I could tell via the mobile app that the hotel’s occupancy was genuinely quite full, and I knew not to keep my hopes too high.
Meanwhile, speaking of mediocre elite treatment, I was informed that the breakfast benefit was merely one drink, pastry, and fruit cup per person at the on-site Starbucks coffee shop. There was no hot breakfast included, whether it was buffet or à la carte, and that was very disappointing.
I replied to the hotel to let them know exactly that in no uncertain terms, and the front desk manager replied saying that they “can’t offer the hot breakfast to elite members because the restaurant is run by a third party, not the hotel itself”, which felt like an empty excuse since they were offering Starbucks fruit cups after all.
Anyway, the manager offered a US$100 credit to my reservation as a gesture of goodwill, which I accepted – that should do nicely towards offsetting the thorny resort fee of US$35 plus tax per night.
We arrived at Kahului International Airport via a back-breaking five-hour ride on Air Canada Rouge from Vancouver, and from there we hopped into our rented Jeep Wrangler and made the 20-minute drive down to the Wailea Beach Resort. From there, we dropped off our vehicle for valet parking (another US$40/day plus tax), and headed to the check-in desk.
After sipping on some welcome drinks, donning our welcome leis, receiving a couple of complimentary drink vouchers, and going over with the front desk most of the details that I had confirmed earlier, we were informed that we had been assigned the Premium Ocean View Room on the upper floors of the resort’s Haleakala building.
A final shot in the dark in asking about a suite upgrade was met with an apologetic denial, and given the hotel’s high occupancy, there wasn’t really any room to push further.
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui – Premium Ocean View Room
We made our way up to the sixth floor of the Haleakala building, which is the main block of guest rooms located at the upper level of the resort. Meanwhile, six individual “Hales”, or smaller guest room blocks, are scattered around the lower level of the resort closer to the water.
Room 623 would be our home for the next four nights. The room had a very “standard North American Marriott hotel” identity – lots of brown and beige everywhere, with the occasional patterned sofa or rock pool design on the walls. It gets the job done, but is definitely a bit boring.
After a short hallway, you arrive at the bedroom, which has a king-sized bed, a desk, a television, and a sitting area on the far side.
Most of the time, I rarely have complaints about hotel beds, and I almost always get a very good night’s sleep. This bed, however, was noticeably less comfortable than most other hotel beds I’ve tried, even at other full-service Marriott hotels. The bedsprings were too soft for my liking, and the sheets too flimsy.
Opposite the bed was the television and working area, where I got a little bit of work done during my stay.
Then, you have a couch and ottoman to complete the interior furniture. Again, as far as the furniture goes, this couch neither looked, nor was, very comfortable to sit on either.
Over in the bathroom, the washing-up area was a reasonable size with good lighting, but the room containing the toilet and shower was comparatively a very tight squeeze.
I’m also never a fan of showers with a glass wall that just kind of ends in the middle, since the water inevitably spills all over the ground, just as it did here.
The room also had a large wardrobe, which contained a couple of comfortable bathrobes…
…and a pantry with a coffee machine (but, as seems to be the standard across mid-range hotels in North America, no proper cups to drink from, only paper cups).
The Premium Ocean View Room also had a balcony, which I didn’t end up taking a picture of, but it was just about large enough for two people to sit comfortably and enjoy a drink while watching the sunset over the horizon.
Overall, despite my best efforts to appreciate the room for what it is, I can’t say I was too impressed by it. For one, the linoleum floors didn’t feel very upscale at all, even though they’re presumably necessary given that young children are likely to track sand all over the place.
More importantly, though, the essential elements of a hotel room – the bed and the bathroom – both missed the mark somewhat, so ultimately it wasn’t a room that we enjoyed spending too much time in.
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui – Pools & Beach
Jessy and I would have three full days in Maui, and we spent the second day entirely at the resort soaking in the sunshine by the pool and beach. The hotel has three separate pool areas with five pools in total, spread out across the very large property.
I headed out to get some pictures of the pools early in the morning, before the poolside area became jam-packed with people (and boy do they become jam-packed!)
The lap pool is found near Kapa restaurant, with ample seating dotted around the pool to relax.
Then there’s another pool a few steps below this one, which was unfortunately under construction during my stay.
The main infinity pool is very impressive, although it gets extremely crowded during the day, with virtually every poolside lounge chair occupied by 10am.
It’s almost entirely necessary for someone in your entourage to head down to the pool at 7am every morning to grab a spot for everyone, because otherwise you simply won’t be able to find a spot unless you wanted to pay to rent a cabana for the full day.
Finally, there’s the adventure pools, which are geared towards children and offer an exciting set of waterslides – one open-air, one fully enclosed – for the enjoyment of the children at the resort, as well as children who are trapped in adults’ bodies.
Needless to say, I went for several rides on the waterslides before Jessy told me to grow up and come to the beach with her instead.
Speaking of the beach, it’s interesting to note that the Wailea Beach Resort, despite its name, doesn’t actually have a beach of its own directly on the property’s oceanfront; instead, its two separate beaches will both require a 5-minute walk in either direction from the property.
The main beach is shared with the nearby Grand Wailea, and as part of your US$35 resort fee, you get access to complimentary beach chairs during your visit. Nevertheless, the beach still gets extremely crowded and hectic during the day, and doesn’t really offer you any peace and quiet as you work on perfecting your tan.
On the plus side, the Beach Activities Desk provides a variety of equipment rentals, such as snorkels, paddle-boarding, kayaking, etc. Snorkel rentals were complimentary as a Titanium Elite member, so we took them for a spin to check out the underwater views.
Conversely, the resort’s other beach is much more basic, but also more secluded and quiet, and we quite enjoyed coming here to watch the sunset on both our first and second days in Maui.
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui – Breakfast and Meals
We took up the Titanium Elite offer of a Starbucks drink, pastry, and fruit cup on each of our four mornings at the resort. While the sheer stinginess of the resort’s breakfast offering for elite members is pretty unbelievable, ultimately it’s still just about enough food for the mornings, so we didn’t really feel the need to pay US$34 per person for the buffet breakfast.
You’re entitled to order a Tall cup of any drink that Starbucks offers (including premium espresso drinks), as well as a fruit cup and the rotating daily pastry: banana bread, blueberry scone, etc. If you wanted to upsize your drink to a Grande or a Venti, you’d simply pay a few dollars’ difference.
Overall, we found the resort’s restaurants to be rather overpriced for what you’re getting, which isn’t exactly a surprise at a resort like this. For example, we ordered a small meal of fish tacos and chicken flatbread from the food truck out by the beach, which came to a total of US$35.
We also visited the Kapa Bar & Grill to redeem our complimentary drink vouchers. They definitely pour some very strong mai tais here!
The Humble Market Kitchen is the resort’s all-purpose eatery, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, although we didn’t end up eating here.
Instead, we took a fair few meals over at the Island Gourmet Market, a grocery store right by the Wailea Beach Resort’s parking lot and only a 5-minute walk away. They had excellent poke in particular, and we’d often buy a few beers and poke bowls and bring them back to the resort to savour while watching the sunset.
If you’d rather not venture off-premises, the resort also has its own Holoholo Market, which offers sandwiches, snacks, and drinks at reasonable prices, in addition to a variety of souvenirs and gifts.
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui – Other Facilities
In addition to relaxing by the pool and beach, Jessy and I also spent a fair bit of time exploring the hotel’s facilities and amenities.
We went for a workout at the hotel’s fitness centre on our third morning, right after breakfast.
I was pretty happy with the gym facilities, which featured treadmills, exercise machines, free weights, and a separate aerobics area.
There was even a TV with guided workouts available, which was the first time I’ve seen something like this at a hotel.
Opposite the fitness centre is the games room, which was an awesome spot for kids and adults alike to hang out, offering a pool table, a shuffleboard, and several arcade game consoles.
There’s also a business centre, with computer workstations, printers, and scanners available should you need to get some work done amidst all the fun and games.
Overall, the hotel’s public areas were very pleasant, with several individual spots to cozy up and relax among the perfectly manicured grass underneath the towering palm trees, and Jessy and I definitely enjoyed our long walks along the water as we soaked up the sunshine and the Aloha spirit.
Having said that, I couldn’t help but notice that the individual Hale buildings, which are located much closer to the seashore, definitely looked a lot more appealing than the main Haleakala block that we had been assigned. If you’re staying at the Wailea Beach Resort, I would highly recommend requesting a room in one of the Hales if at all possible.
The Best of Maui
I’ll also take this opportunity to mention a few of the things we did in Maui. While we did want to spend a fair bit of time exploring the island, we also weren’t too eager to fill our days entirely with sightseeing, instead preferring to take things slowly and combine the beachside relaxation with a few scenic drives to the outer parts of the island.
On the first day, we headed to the town of Lahaina, where we embarked on a whale-watching tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation.
The nature of whale-watching is that you’re entirely at the mercy of the whales and whether they decide to venture above the water surface or not. This particular tour began on a high note – we managed to see a beautiful set of jumps right at the beginning – but that was followed by 30 minutes of scouring the ocean surface for very little signs of activity.
Eventually, a couple of whales surfaced a few times, letting us catch a glimpse of their majesty, before a set of dolphins showed their faces in the water as well.
After that little bit of excitement, we walked around Lahaina’s cute town centre, treating ourselves to some poke and shaved ice, before heading back to the resort for the day.
After spending the entirety of Day 2 at the resort, we embarked on the famous Road to Hana on our third day, experiencing the best of Maui’s natural beauty via the 65-mile stretch of narrow and windy highway.
Along the way, we stopped to scope out the Twin Falls, and also spent a few hours visiting the Wai’anapanapa State Park, taking in its dramatic black sand beaches and rocky outcroppings.
It was getting dark by the time we made the return journey on the Hana Highway, and we stopped at the side of the road to witness one final Maui sunset before our departure for Fiji the next day.
While this was definitely a short visit to Maui, Jessy and I both agreed that we’d love to come back to Hawaii someday with one of our families in tow and spend some more time exploring what each individual island has to offer.
In particular, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have enough time to visit the volcanic peak of Haleakala National Park, and I’d love to be able to plan an early-morning visit to see the sunrise – which usually needs to be booked several months in advance – the next time I’m here on Maui.
It’s safe to say that the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort Maui left me with mixed feelings. It’s a resort that does many things well: the grounds are kept in excellent condition, and there are lots of things to do on the premises, including three separate pool areas, to keep you occupied during your stay.
In particular, I think families with young children will really enjoy this resort because of how family-friendly it is, and indeed, I saw lots of children having the time of their lives while I was here.
However, as someone who was looking for an indulgent beach getaway with a touch of luxury, I came away from this stay fairly disappointed. The Premium Ocean View Room was rather basic, the poolside deck chairs would not be available unless you went to claim them Hunger Games-style at 7:30am, and the Titanium Elite breakfast amenity was downright embarrassing. The fact that the resort tacks on a whopping US$40 per day for valet parking, as well as a brazen US$35 per day in resort fees, only weighed my impressions down further.
Ultimately, I definitely should’ve adjusted my expectations for a resort that still falls within the North American standard of hotels, rather than the greater degree of luxury one might expect when travelling in, say, South East Asia. But this hotel has just become a Category 7 within Marriott Bonvoy that requires 60,000 Bonvoy points at the standard rate, which is, in my view, far too high for the quality of the product you’re getting.
I look forward to returning to Hawaii one day, but I wonder if I might be better served with an Airbnb next time, rather than one of the many chain resorts across the islands, most of which, thanks to their sheer popularity, appear to suffer similar problems of charging too much and delivering too little.