Review: The Fairmont Kea Lani, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA
The Fairmont Hotel Brand doesn’t always get a lot of love from frequent travellers thanks to its less than engaging award program. It used to have a stand alone award program called Fairmont President’s Club, until it was absorbed by Accor which has a stronger European foot print. Despite its stand alone independent nature, we ended up with a three day stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani in beautiful Wailea, Maui in Hawaii. We couldn’t have been happier with our stay.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Honolulu & Maui, Hawaii, United States of America. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and Fairmont President’s Club. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: Pearl Harbour, The First Lady of Waikiki and Wailea Maui via Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Bellingham – Honolulu
- The Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort and Spa, Waikiki, Honolulu, USA
- Feeling the Sands of Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, USA
- Respecting the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, USA
- Touring the USS Missouri Battleship, Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, USA
- Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Lounge, Honolulu
- Hawaiian Airlines First Class: Honolulu – Maui
- Fairmont Kea Lani, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, USA
- Wailea Beach Walk, Wailea, Hawaii, USA
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Maui – Honolulu
Review: The Fairmont Kea Lani, Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, United States of America
“A Surprisingly Great Stay with Massive Suites, an Excellent Beach Superior Services levels and Better Value Overall than our Last St Regis and Park Hyatt Resort Stays “
I had decided on the Fairmont Kea Lani as we had previously obtained Fairmont’s President’s Club Premier status with our past stays at the Fairmont Vancouver International Airport, the Fairmont Norfolk and the Fairmont Mara Safari Club. With that mid level status, they offered a “stay two nights, get one free” certificate, a suite and a room upgrade, and $50 off dining for the loyalty year, all of which were expiring for me in February of the next year. We just hadn’t been staying in many areas where there were Fairmont properties for 3 consecutive nights and hadn’t found the ability to use any of the features of our Premier status, without deliberately going out of our way.
I had my eyes on this property and when a Black Friday sale (of all things) came up, we booked at the reduced rate, and thankfully applied the certificate to the room. I had also heard great things through word of mouth of just about anyone that had stayed here.
Getting to the Fairmont Kea Lani:
After we arrived off our Hawaiian Airlines First Class Honolulu – Maui flight, we took the rental car shuttle over to the rental car lot at Hertz. We picked up our mid size Toyota Corolla in the Gold Canopy aisle, which was actually upgraded to an Infiniti QX80, courtesy of Hertz Five Star status.
I didn’t mind the car upgrade today as we weren’t planning on doing too much driving around Maui. We had a courtesy stop at the Maui Costco for supplies (and a fully loaded Costco hot dog!) and we drove the 30 minutes down from the airport to Wailea.
We arrived to the beautiful Fairmont Lea Kani. We dropped the bags and self parked the car.
Our first impressions walking into the lobby area were “Wow – what a super impressive property!”. It started with a gorgeous lobby with open air high ceilings. The hotel was everything that the Honolulu hotels were not- impressive spaces that were beautiful and reminiscent of large scale resorts in South East Asia with beautiful public areas and even a view of the ocean from the arrival.
All rooms at the Fairmont Kea Lani property are considered suites. At check in, I attempted to use a suite upgrade and a room upgrade from my Fairmont President’s Club Premier Club profile at the front counter (as they were expiring anyway) but was told not to worry about it as the hotel had already offered us a double category upgrade from mountainside to a partial ocean view suite (skipping the pool suite category). I didn’t bother asking them if we could apply a certificate on top of that to upgrade to a villa as that was a pretty sweet (and unusual) upgrade as far as I was concerned. We had booked a Mountain View suite (which was one category up from the base room).
The Room: A Partial Ocean View Suite
We were led up to the room by the bell man with our bags. Although the Fairmont Kea Lani is an older property, I found that this was actually to our advantage as it resulted in a larger room footprint.
Immediately after entering the room, a small foyer led to the bathroom and the living area.
On arrival, the bellman pointed out the main features for the room, he positioned the bags, pointed out the features of the room and pro-actively collected us some ice. It was very stellar service and consistent with a high end property.
The Partial Ocean View Suite featured a proper king size bed, in its own room. There were proper sized bedside tables, along with direct access to the room balcony.
The bedroom featured a smaller flat screen television, along with a closet area and direct access to the ensuite bathroom.
The bathroom was a full sized and full featured bathroom. There was a stand up shower, and a separate elevated bathtub. The only disadvantage to the bathroom where the pedestal sinks, which I find aren’t ideal for counter top storage when you are travelling and just want to throw your stuff on the counter. The Toiletries were Le Labo branded, which were a nice brand to use during our stay.
The Fairmont Kea Lani Suites offer a large and proper sized living area. The couches in our living room had a slight curve in them, allowing a look around the room or inward into the room dependent on where you sit on the couch.
A Large Outdoor Lanai Balcony:
The room featured a medium sized outdoor lanai balcony. While it was not as large as a balcony as you’d expect in a villa, it was definitely one of the larger hotel room balconies I’d ever had the opportunity to enjoy. The outdoor lanai offered a table for four, in addition to a single lounger. The lounger didn’t have any sun as our room was facing on the north side of the building.
The room was in excellent shape and was very well equipped. The only shameless thing here was the fine print for the room service. Fairmont adds a $5.00 delivery charge AND 20% service charge to all room service bills. Fairmont flat out admits in the fine print in the room guide that part of the service charge serves as “tips or wages” and that “a portion of the service charge is retained by the hotel as an administrative fee”. There is nothing like greasing your guests for more money. . . I found this to be a bit disappointing on the part of Fairmont. . .
The concierge also provided a text to request any service, which was highly convenient.
Our room was also replenished with abundant bottled water, Keurig coffees (5 capsules per day per room) and Le Labo toiletries. There were even free Travel and Leisure Magazines in the room that were even replaced when I took my copy to the beach for a read one day. There were Conde Nast Traveler Magazines available in the gym for treadmill junkies. All in all, it was a highly impressive and miles ahead of what I had been offered at high end Starwood / Marriott properties. We were really happy with the room configuration and size and it made for a very comfortable holiday stay.
Around the Hotel:
The Resort Pools and Lounger Areas:
The grounds here are just impressive and well taken care of. The landscaping was immaculate! It offered an impressive pool and beach area that sloped down gradually towards the water.
Moving down towards the Ocean, the resort grounds were nicely landscaped towards the Ocean with green grass areas. We ended up spending many days down here away from the quieter areas away from the pool.
The Fairmont Kea Lani Beach at Wailea:
We situated ourselves and walked down to the beach. The beach was pretty nice; a solid 8 out of 10. The sand was of high quality as well and fairly fine. Unfortunately, red flags were up signalling no swimming for the duration of our visit, but still nice loungers available all over the property without any need to charge just to sit in them unlike the hotel customers in Waikiki!
The more time that we spent here, the more I came to realize the amount of inclusions that Fairmont offers as compared to Starwood. The closest hotels in the Starwood brand are probably the St. Regis. We definitely felt that we got a better value out of our stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani compared to our last beach resort stay at the St Regis Mauritius. Everything was provided here as an inclusion.
Despite the ridiculous $35 US a Day per room resort charges (a trend that I doubt will be going away anytime soon), there were many more inclusions with that fee. Free water (ice and cucumber / lemon infused), free sun screen and free aloe vera were abundant about the property. Off resort, there were free courtesy rides around Wailea in their swank Cadillac Escalade house cars (arranged by phone). Fairmont even had staff running around with moistened towels for it’s beach customers in a feature that I hadn’t seen since our stay in 2010 at the JW Marriott in Phuket.
MrsWT73 also shared her praise. It was second nicest hotel “ever” falling behind the Park Hyatt Maldives. I think that she was impressed by the space and the size of the bathroom. Needless to say, as a husband, it made my life very easy as every need she could have ever wanted was taken care of by the resort.
The Fairmont Canoe Outrigger Experience:
On the date of our departure, we had the Fairmont Canoe outrigger experience. This is an inclusion in the resort charge where Fairmont will take 5 guests out with two guides (front and rear) on an outrigger canoe. The outrigger canoe is a traditionally styled long canoe with an outrigger to balance it.
We had signed up on Sunday and two and a half days later, the only times that we were able to get were on the day of departure. We weren’t able to get times together, so we went separately with MrsWT73 at 7 AM, and I went at 10 AM.
I watched from the shore while MrsWT73 went out. She was able to get in some massive whales breeching three times almost next to her canoe. Even her guides were impressed as they were talking about it 3 tours later.
Unfortunately, I got almost no sightings at 10 AM, but it was nice to be out on the water with some nice views of Halehakala volcano which was as clear as it ever was for the trip. It was a nice experience and great that it was included as part of the resort charge. The key for this is to book as soon as you arrive at the concierge desk as they do not run the canoe experience 7 days a week. On our visit, it was being run only 5 days a week. All in all, the experience was a memorable addition to our Fairmont stay.
Food and Beverage:
Nick’s Fishmarket Maui Restaurant:
I had arranged our first dinner at Nick’s Fishmarket conveniently via Open Table. Nick’s Fishmarket is on the Fairmont property as one of their flagship hotel restaurants. On arrival, we were seated on the patio out doors. It was a pleasant setting with a nice view over the resort pools and pathways gently sloping away from the restaurant building. It had an interesting and varied menu, with most meals around the $40 to $50 mark.
We went with a refreshing Whitehall Lane Sauvingon Blanc from Napa Valley. It’s a bit of a treat to have American Wines while in America as the import tax and currency exchange on them in Canada makes them as expensive as any French or Italian Wine.
MrsWT73 had the mahi mahi which she said was excellent and well cooked.
I ordered an Ahi Tuna Oscar which was supposed to be a “seared” Ahi Tuna with Crab Leg with Béarnaise Sauce. I even went so far as to inquire before ordering about whether the ahi was seared or fully cooked through? I was assured that “ahi should never been cooked through”. Well of course, you can see where this was headed… When it arrived it was presented beautifully but almost fully cooked through. I took a few bites into it to see if it was just the edges that had the full cook. I actually did “the rare for me” (no pun intended) ) send back of the dish since I had asked about it before hand and it was $47 a dish. I don’t think I’ve ever sent anything back before but at these prices (chuckling)… just a shame because it was a nice cut of fish and that they were probably too busy in the kitchen in order to attend to it carefully.
This resulted in both our dishes being removed and as a result, we got two fresh ones. The staff were very apologetic and there seemed to be good communication between the wait staff and the front of the house. The second one was seared appropriately. All in all one and a half thumbs up and an easy dinner for our first night at the property.
The service was attentive but it seemed to operate in a “team” environment meaning that, despite waiter introductions, we didn’t have any one main point of contact. This meant it was challenging getting wine refills and the like (water boy wouldn’t pour the wine etc). It was great service, but just not enough of it.
My Thoughts on The Fairmont Kea Lani:
I was surprised at the Fairmont Kea Lani. While it’s a hotel that I wouldn’t have always considered when visiting Wailea, it turned out to be an excellent location for a holiday. The property is an older property but makes up for that in a larger room size, making any stay exceptionally comfortable. The property offers a lot of inclusions within its resort fee, and nothing beats upscale Wailea for a luxury holiday in the Island State of Hawaii, USA.