Oceanfront Orange County may resemble the island life, but the warm breezes of Maui wafting through the open lanais of a Hawaiian villa truly offer a home away from home.
Modern Living at Andaz
It’s one of those games my family likes to play. If we won the lottery, what would be on our list? Starting a nonprofit for victims of domestic violence. Funding a new sports academy in Southern California. Volunteering for a year in an ashram in India. And, always, depending on whether it was the Mega Millions or the Powerball, a home in Wailea where the trade winds funnel the scent of plumeria through our oceanfront living room.
When the Andaz in Wailea unveiled its seven state-of-the-art Mokapu beachfront villas last year, our family of five couldn’t pack our bathing suits and Havaianas fast enough to check out the Rockwell Group-designed luxury residences and start dreaming.
It started the moment we stepped into the The Hyatt’s boutique brand’s open-air entry that led us to an indoor sandy beach lounge where we sipped lavender lemonade while our personal Guest Experience Manager went over some logistics before leading us to our oceanfront villa.
Ranging in size from 1,800 to 4,890 square feet with state-of-the-art kitchens and private lanais, the villas at Andaz combine midcentury modern aesthetics with elements fundamental to Hawaiian culture: lava stone floors, indigenous Hawaiian botanicals from Malie Organics in the bathrooms; paintings and sculpture by local artists. Gourmet kitchens are accented by Miele appliances and a walk-in pantry with complimentary snacks such as granola bars made locally in nearby Kauai and tropical fruit juices are all replenished daily. Generous outdoor spaces with retractable walls of glass ranging in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet make the lanais a seamless extension of the living area and offer full barbecues with Viking grills and refrigerators, custom-made outdoor lounges, sofas, dining tables, and chairs.
There are two 1,800-square-foot two-bedroom villas featuring three bathrooms, a media room with a built-in study, a full kitchen with a wine refrigerator and catering kitchen/pantry, and a 500-square-foot outdoor space with a private Jacuzzi and outdoor Viking grill, overlooking the ocean. The two three-bedroom villas are 3,400 square feet and boast four bathrooms and a state-of-the-art kitchen. The three bedrooms’ outdoor space is 1,000 square feet with a plunge pool, full Viking barbecue, and stunning oceanfront views. And the 3,500- to 4,070-square-foot, four bedroom villas are steps from the ocean and boast five bathrooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen and private outdoor spaces ranging from 700-822 square feet with a spectacular plunge pool as well as a full outdoor barbecue with Viking refrigerators and grills.
There truly is no reason to leave the villa, except for the Andaz’s sunset-reflecting infinity pools and the Awili spa and salon, where apothecary consultants are on hand to help guests blend the purest of elements tailored to each guest’s preferences for massages and other body treatments. Whip up a body lotion of coconut butter, lavender, and lilikoi to use in a treatment and then take the unused portion home to continue the experience in your villa’s glassed-in shower. Make dinner (or, better yet, have a chef come in to make dinner) in your villa, or enjoy one of two signature restaurants, Ka’ana Kitchen, a family-style dining experience, or Morimoto Maui, helmed by celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto. The hotel’s Mokapu Market, open 24 hours a day, offers house-made gelato, while the Bumbye Beach Bar and Lehua Lounge offer creative cocktails and fresh poolside snacks.
We had an unforgettable meal at Ka’ana Kitchen, where most of the ingredients are procured exclusively from Ka’ana Farm and through partnerships with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. The creative family-style menu, which changes seasonally depending on the local harvest, includes offerings like rib-eye cap with Thai basil, green papaya, chili-lime and peanuts; ranch offerings like Kula Country Farms’ chorizo plated with chow fun, garlic chives and summer squash; Kona Cold Lobsters, a prized local source for live and fresh seafood, provides the abalone for a creamy risotto with delicately cooked Onsen egg, Saikyo miso and shiitake salt; and the watermelon salad with feta from nearby Surfing Goat Dairy comes garnished with horseradish, arugula and candied walnuts. Wicked Tuna, another local purveyor, provides fresh ahi for carpaccio with somen noodles, ponzu and ginger blossom. Ka’ana chefs also create inventive vegetarian options. Poolside is the Bumbye Beach Bar where Huli Huli chicken lollipops and a lobster grilled cheese were our family favorites.
The only reason we stayed away from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s 10-course meal served on a candlelit wood terrace shrouded in lanterns and infinity pools overlooking the Pacific Ocean is because my kids insisted that if we were going to stay in a villa, we were going to eat in the villa. So we skipped the hand-rolled sushi (with custom polished rice), and the Washimi flatiron steak which is Japanese Wagyu beef bred with Hawaiian cattle raised in Oregon and opted for ahi poke from the poke bar at Eskimo Candy Seafood Market and Cafe in Kihei, a walk down the beach at sunset, and the quiet private patio of our home away from home.
Andaz Maui at Wailea :: Villa rentals start at $4,500 per night for the two-bedroom villa, $6,500 per night for the three-bedroom, and $10,000 per night for the four-bedroom villa.
A Quiet Escape at Ho'olai, at Grand Wailea
Sometimes grand is too grand, and sometimes it’s just perfectly grand, especially when you can stay in your own quiet villa away from the maddening crowd but close enough to enjoy the amenities of one of the most family-friendly, romantic, extravagant resorts in Maui. With the largest spa in Hawaii, Spa Grande covers two floors (“wet” and “dry”) and is designed with inlaid Italian marble, original artwork, mahogany millwork and Venetian chandeliers. Its Termé Wailea Hydrotherapy area with a cascading waterfall massage, a Roman whirlpool tub, cold plunge pool, five specialty Hawaiian sea salt baths, a Japanese furo bath, Hawaiian tropical jet showers and a complimentary exfoliating loofah body scrub is a series of water therapies designed to soothe and rejuvenate the body and mind, which I did prior to experiencing a Pala’au Journey treatment.
I was good and relaxed before retreating to our villa at Ho’olai, situated in the exclusive Wailea Resort area just across the street from the Grand. The seven-year-old, 30-acre property offers 120 luxury villas divided into six-unit enclaves. Choose from three bedroom/three and a half bath homes, two bedroom/two and a half bath homes, and one bedroom/one and a half bath homes offering the privacy of a residence with all of the amenities of the world-class resort across the street. Ho`olei at Grand Wailea offers guests an onsite state-of-the-art fitness center, pool with waterfall and sandy beach, and concierge services. In addition to large, lavish residences, guests can enjoy full access to Grand Wailea, including fine dining, the island’s most notable pools and aquatic playground, and championship golf and tennis within minutes of the property.
Ho`olei’s units start at approximately 3,200 square feet. The three layouts in the three-bedroom category offer up to 4,000 square feet of space to accommodate longer stays and multigenerational families. Custom cabinetry, stone floors, vaulted ceilings and spacious lanais with sunset views are the mainstay at Ho’olei. Each unit offers a state-of-the-art luxury kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and Wolf ranges; dining room; spacious living areas with luxurious furnishings; comfortably appointed bedrooms and private lanai areas off two of the bedrooms. The master bath has a deep soaking tub and separate glass-enclosed shower, while each of the other bedrooms has its own full bath. Each unit also has a private elevator, laundry room, central air, and attached garage.
Amenities also include shuttle service to/from the Grand Wailea, where an additional nine pools with slides, swings and river canyons await you.
The restaurants at Grand Wailea offer the best in Polynesian and Island-infused cuisine, and we spent an evening with the family at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the Polynesian thatch-roof restaurant named after Hawaii’s state fish, that seems to float on a million-gallon saltwater lagoon filled with tropical fish. We decided to select our own Hawaiian spiny lobster from the lagoon after enjoying the Humuhumunukunuku PUPU pu’ai, an ohana-style pupu platter, with cilantro and lemongrass baby back ribs, seared day boat scallops, chicken and pine nut dumplings and Hawaiian ahi tartare. We missed out on Alan Wong’s Amasia but did get a taste of the Grand Dining Room’s breakfast buffet before heading out for our Alii Nui catamaran trip, arranged through the concierge onsite at Grand Wailea, where we were picked up for our six-hour snorkling/sailing adventure. Aside from providing all the snorkeling equipment you can ever need, Alii Nui offers Huka Diving that allows the participant to actually go underwater while breathing on a surface-supplied air system. Our charter took us to Turtle Point, Maui’s largest coral reef system, nestled in the protected bays at the base of the West Maui Mountains. The caverns and ledges in the coral and lava, as well as the lava fingers nearing the surface, create the perfect habitat for sponges, corals, octopus, fish, eels, and shrimp. The highlight of this reef is the number of green sea turtles that gather here to be “cleaned” by fish known as the Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse. And the gourmet buffet lunch only made the day better as we watched the video and film from the boat’s professional photographers.
For our family, a trip to Maui is not complete without heading upcountry, at least to Paia for bikini and hippie garb shopping, people watching and a meal at Mamas Fish House. This Hawaiian plantation village originated in the latter half of the 19th century, and the first Paia mill was constructed in the 1870s as the sugar industry took hold on Maui, but in recent decades, Paia has become a laid-back town with a unique blend of shops, boutiques, and restaurants combined with tourists and locals drawn by the area’s world-class windsurfing.
Mama’s Fish House, loud, chaotic, always busy, is worth the line with a menu that changes daily and family-style tables that will surely put you face to face with Paia locals. Kauai shrimp wontons with macadamia nut dipping sauce, papa’s three-fish sashimi: Ono with calamansi citrus and Molokai pink sea salt; ahi seasoned with ponzu, red shiso and kukui nut salt; and onaga with charred pineapple, pomegranate and Hawaiian Island black sea salt is hard to resist, but the wild fish caught by local fishermen (and their names are on the fish, such as: “A‘u Ku – Hawaiian swordfish caught by Vajra Hogye offshore from Hilo”), grilled in a ti leaf with papaya, chili pepper and coconut rice – make this place worth the hassle, and the liliko’i creme brûlée helps too.
Back at our villa, we collapse on the lanai to watch yet another Hawaiian sunset, kids watching a surfing video on the flat-screen TV while my husband and I start looking at what it would cost to buy our own piece of aloha.
Ho’olei at Grand Wailea :: Two-bedroom ocean villas start at $1,595 a night, three-bedroom villas range from $1,595 to $1,995.00 per night plus tax and resort charges.