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beachgirl86 Nov 4th, 2005 04:02 PM

Maui: 4S, Kea Lani, and GW all the same price for next summer. Have some questions, and I'm having an impossible time choosing!
Hi everyone,

My husband and I are headed to Maui next summer (3rd trip to Hawaii, 2nd to Maui) and think we want to stay in Wailea. We stayed in Kaanapali for the last trip.

Right now, the Four Seasons, Kea Lani, and Grand Wailea are all about $400 for the cheapest room per night. I am totally torn on where to stay! They all seem to have great perks between the pools at GW, the suites at Fairmont, and class and service at 4S. We are definitely pool and beach people. (We have walked through the Kea Lani when eating at Nick's last trip, and thought it was beautiful)

We were deciding between 4S and Kea Lani before, but now GW is the same price, too. They were about $500 a night for our dates until recently, so now they are in the running. (You were right about the price drop, Crazy4Hawaii!)

We are looking for the following:
*nicely decorated, modern rooms
*great pool and beach
* free lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach
*good food for poolside lunches
*poolside service for drinks and lunch
*good snorkeling on-site

Which is nicer -- Polo or Wailea beach?

And which resort has the nicest room/view in the lowest category room levels? We are most likely taking the cheapest room no matter where we stay, but IF we did splurge for an ocean view for a couple of nights, which hotel has the best ocean views? (For example, one idea I had was 5 nights at Fairmont and 3 in a DOV at GW. The pools and spa are tempting me at GW.)

Are Kea Lani's rooms ALL renovated now -- or will they be by next summer?

Any tips/suggestions and personal experiences would be great! Thanks!

(BTW, the kids thing at Kea Lani or Fairmont doesn't bother me as they both have adult pools.)

gyppielou Nov 4th, 2005 04:44 PM

I have stayed at all three. Most recently last August at Kea Lani. Grand W pool was WAY overcrowded when I visited to check out the hotel shops. The lobby was empty but the pool was chaos. KL needs better help and physical upgrading in pool areas, as I felt by the end of the day we were slumming in a dingy concrete area around a crowded pool, littered with towels and leftovers. The morning setups and pool service didn't impress me either. The negative details are not immediately noticable, but once noticed, never forgotten.

4S is the only place we stayed twice, and the only place we'll consider returning to. By the way, have you looked at rentals and how far$400 aday will get you?

beachgirl86 Nov 4th, 2005 04:51 PM

Thanks, gyppie, I always think you have great Hawaii advice :)

Did you feel like the 4S pool area was small or cramped? Since we are going in August, this is peak travel time, so I know all hotels will be full.

I know $400 (or much less) would get us an awesome condo, but when we can afford it, we like the beautiful resorts!

How did rooms compare? And you really thought KL was dingy?

travelinwifey Nov 4th, 2005 04:56 PM

4S will be extremly busy during that time. We stayed during the 4th of July and checked out because we couldn't take the crowd anymore. There will be plenty of kids and plenty people on cell phones, just a warning. The pool is not big enough for the resort, it will be really crowded there too, but the beach is great.

Jolie Nov 4th, 2005 04:58 PM

We have never stayed at the KL. But we've stayed at both the FS and GW; we preferred the 4S because it seemed quieter and the dining was much better.

But while people report that the GW pool is too crowded and noisy, I think they're talking about the one with the slides and waterfalls. However, the GW also has a nice pool that is "adults only" and that one was much quieter and (most of the time) pretty empty. So I think you could have a good pool experience at the GW, one way or the other (adult-only or family).

But again, our personal preference is the 4S. I think the beaches were about the same, as the hotels are right next to each other.

issy Nov 4th, 2005 04:59 PM

Well you certainly can't go wrong with any of the choices. We have stayed in all three properties, and it all comes down to the type of experience you want to have.

The GW is a blast. We stay here most often because our kids love it. Hands down they have the best pools in Wailea. The waterslides are fabulous, floating around the river is heaven, the adult pool wonderully calm. But maybe that is not your style. The grounds have spectacular gardens, and even when the resort is full, I can always easily find a quiet spot. It's easy to spend hours just walking around. The spa is unbelievable, but you do not have to be a guest to use it.

The 4S is more elegant and sophisticated. Beautiful place. Wonderful service. What you expect from a 4S.

The Kea Lani has the largest rooms. They are all suites and have living rooms, mini-frig's and microwaves. Good for warming up leftovers or having an easy breakfast. (BTW - you can request a mini frig in your room at the GW. At last check it was $25 for the duration of your stay. We like to do that so we can save time/money on breakfast and snacks.)

All three are nicely decorated, have beach chairs and good poolside service. They all have free beach chairs, but I think there is a fee for the umbrellas at all three.

Snorkeling is fine at either place, slightly better at polo beach. But the best snorkeling is not at either beach. I like Wailea beach better than Polo beach, but I'm not sure why! They are both beautiful.

If you get the cheapest rooms at the GW, you will be in the Haleakala wing. No water view at all, and it is a three day camel ride down to the beach! We usually opt for the Napua tower (breakfast, drinks and appetizers included, bigger room) or the Garden View just for the proximity of the pools/beach. It's been a few years since we stayed at the4S and Kea Lani, so I can't comment on what the views are like in the least expensive rooms. Sorry.

One other thought for you. You can get a "membership" at the Grand Wailea. I don't remember the cost, but you get your rooms for 1/2 price. So if you stay for a week, you essentially have paid for your membership. We joined years ago when it was $1000, but I know it's more than that now. I think it is still set up that you can get your $ back when you stop membership.

After re-reading my post, I'm not sure I've even helped you! The bottom line is, you will love any one of these three resorts. Go have lunch at SeaWatch (at the golf course) and enjoy the view from there!

travelinwifey Nov 4th, 2005 05:00 PM

Oh yes, just wanted to add that my sil stays at the Grand Wailea a few times per year. The above comments about the pools being crowded are spot on but it is a gorgeous resort. If I remember correctly you have to pay for covered cabanas at the Grand Wailea 80-100/day I think but I'm not 100% sure. Room wise they're okay, can use a little sprucing up.

travelinwifey Nov 4th, 2005 05:01 PM

I think the membership is over 2k now, sil has that too:)

gyppielou Nov 4th, 2005 05:06 PM


I'm not sure, but I think in a report you can confirm my room at Kea Lani was 172, which is just past the shops on the lobby level. It was a very convenient room overlooking decorative pools to the left of the pool/resort area. I'd request it again. We had a bad shower head, and it was addressed the very next day. It was a perfect location and the suite was very nice, although the pullout couch is horrid if you're planning on it.

What I mean by dingy is really just the pool area. Some of the concrete by the pools seemed like a city sidewalk. By the end of the day, it looked like a kindergarden let out with adults and children alike leaving behind a huge mess. And the concrete felt dingy.

Bottom line, I'd go 4S, then KL and last GW, as that is just such a circus. JMHO Best of luck deciding!

issy Nov 4th, 2005 05:24 PM

I probably sound like I'm plugging GW, but I'm not. I love the 4S, too. We have been to the GW numerous times and even when the hotel is at capacity, we have always found a lounge chair by the pool in an area we wanted. Now if you are the type that likes to sleep in and don't go down to the pool until 11, you may have a hard time finding chairs in the place you want them. There is always the adult pool, however, which is beautifully quiet. Never crowded there. At first glance it might look like chaos, but it really hasn't felt that way for us. The only place it gets bogged down is at the water slide from when it opens until about 2PM. People are up and moving around alot at the resort, because there is so much to see/do. Contrast this with the 4S. At the 4S we typically relax in our lounge chair by the pool and will plunge into the pool or go for a brief swim every once in a while. But we're not up and about all that much. I think that is why it seems that the GW is more chaotic than 4S. It all comes down to what type of experience you want. Either place is divine. It's hard to not have a good time in Hawaii! Enjoy.

crazy4Hawaii Nov 4th, 2005 05:29 PM

I have only stayed at the GW and walked around the other two. Our terrace room at the GW had an oblique view of Haleakala AND an oblique view of the ocean. Sounds much better than the parking lot view from the least expensive 4S rooms. Everone talks about the "circus" that is GW. We went in JUNE and I never felt the pool was crowded or the grounds. I found the grounds to be serene and beautiful. However, poolside service was practically nonexistant. The little cafe poolside had really good hamburgers and hot dogs...

Everyone is going to have a different opinion on this but there's no way I could pass up staying at the GW if I was going to be "in the neighborhood". The other pools are just lame by comparison. If I didn't care about great pools and opulent lobbies, I would just do a condo... And I guess I don't require that much "service".

beachgirl86 Nov 4th, 2005 05:42 PM

Wow, thank you so much for all these great reponses! Each and every one of them is so helpful, especially from those of you who have stayed at more than one of these hotels!

I have to admit, I was bummed out when Grand Wailea was $500/night earlier this fall for next summer....I am excited it is now in the $400 range. Although it now makes the choice so much harder!

Crazy4Hawaii -- I know what you mean about "service"...I have been thinking about the 4S Maui, and it does sound fabulous, but I wonder, too, how much "service" we require. We have stayed at Outrigger Waikiki, the Hyatt on Maui, and Hapuna and Marriott Waikoloa on the BI, and been very happy at all of them...and I don't think any of them seem as luxurious as the Wailea resorts. I think we are more into beautiful grounds, pool and beach, nice rooms, and good food. Also, how is the adult pool at GW? It looks beautiful in pictures...

I am definitely thinking of splitting the stay between 2 resorts, and if I do that, GW will be one of our choices because those pools sound fabulous. Part of it also depends on how many nights we spend on Maui vs. the BI. (We have 14 all together.)

Please, keep the experiences and opinions coming...I love them :)

gyppielou Nov 4th, 2005 06:16 PM

I agree, the more opinions the better. Wherever you land, if you are a 'cup half filled' kinda person, you will simply love it!

crazy4Hawaii Nov 5th, 2005 07:16 AM

I will elaborate on a couple of things about my post above. I especially enjoyed our view of Haleakala from our lanai. The sunrise over it and the play of shadows across it as the sun went down in the evenings were both mesmerizing. Our view of the ocean was distant, but the water would look so unbelievably BLUE in the mornings and we could see Kaho'alawe as well. The room itself was nice, not spectacular - great bathroom with separate shower and tub, lots of marble. The terrace rooms are a long walk through the shops and past Kula Cafe to the lobby. Of course, I was a frequenter of the shops and the cafe LOL.

The swim-up bar in the pool is wonderful. We would duck under the waterfall, go up to the bar complete with stools, get our lava flow, and then take it over to one of the semi-submerged tables to sit and drink it. It was very Flintstones...

beachgirl86 Nov 5th, 2005 08:24 AM

Thanks, Crazy, I appreciate the info. I think we will have to spend at least a few days there, maybe split the time with a quieter resort? The lava flows (my fav. Hawaiian drink) at the swim-up bar sound fantastic!

Did you spend any time at the Hibiscus Pool? It looks gorgeous in pictures, and on the Travel Channel.

crazy4Hawaii Nov 5th, 2005 08:28 AM

It is indeed gorgeous. I spent all of my pool time in the main pool, however, whishing down the slides. I'm a forty-something year old kid, I'm afraid.

fivestar Nov 6th, 2005 09:35 AM

I have stayed at all of these resorts. I have to say that our favorite is the Kea Lani. From the food to housekeeping and the renovated rooms we could not have asked for more. We usually go when school is in session so I don't know how they are when all the families are there.

We have stayed at the Four Seasons twice and we have decided that we will never go back. It is so over rated that it's laughable. The first time we stayed in a mountainside room and had our room moved because of the garage noise and the dumpster noise. Management told us that these were afterall their "bargain roooms". We spent the remainder of our time there in an oceanview room, which to us was more of a partial ocean view. We had a pie slice of a view of the ocean. The last time we were there we had a garden view room, which was in the inner courtyard area. We had no privacy on our lanai because they face the building across from you. The front desk people were surly. Many mishaps happened to us while we were there. We couldn't help feeling that because we didn't spend $2200.00 per night on an ocean view suite, that we were looked down upon.

The Grand Wailea is indeed a lovely resort. We had a Deluxe Ocean view room which was truly an oceanview. It was beautiful. We spent our time at the adult pool which was peaceful and quiet. At night we strolled the grounds guided by the flaming teaky torches. It was very memorable. We feel that the rooms are in need of a re-furb. This place opened in 1991 I beleive and they have never re-done the rooms. It really is time. The front desk staff was great. They waived the daily fee and upgraded us without even asking.

beachgirl86 Nov 6th, 2005 05:58 PM

Thanks again for everything, Fodorites :) All 3 of these resorts look great, and I am sure we will love any one of them. I know they will all be crowded as we are going in August.

I talked to DH today, and I think our current plan is 7 nights at the Grand Wailea, then on to the Big Island where we will stay 4 nights at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and finish up with 3 nights at Four Seasons Hualalai.

Of course, this could change, (I am a definite "mind-changer" when it comes to vacations!) but I think this gives us a nice balance of an exciting and fun resort for the first part of the trip, followed by relaxation and quiet on the BI, and of course, the luxury and pampering at the 4S Hualalai. We have never stayed any place like that, so I am hoping we can pull it off.

Thanks again ((r))

fivestar Nov 6th, 2005 06:35 PM

That sounds like a wonderful itinerary. We always book our resorts early too then change our plans as the specials come out. As of now we have the Halekulani for 5 nights, then we have the Ritz in Kapalua for 5 nights then we have the Kea Lani for 7 nights. This of course might change too.

I wonder how many others change plans about 5 or 6 times as we do?

beachgirl86 Nov 6th, 2005 07:01 PM

fivestar: Glad to hear that I am not the only one who changes vacation plans more than once for a trip! Last summer, we changed plans 3 or 4 times for our Hawaii trip, and finally ended up with 8 nights on Oahu, and 5 on the BI.

Your trip sounds wonderful, too. When are you going?

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