Updated: May 21, 2015
Fairmont Kea Lani - Maui Resort - ReviewsMaui has long been one of the premiere tropical vacation spots, bringing visitors from around the world to its warm shores and white sands. While there are a few choice resorts spread around Maui, the most luxurious resorts are clustered around Wailea (see our Maui Map page for details on where the various cities on Maui are located). Here you'll find the Four Seasons, The Grand Wailea, and one of our favorites, The Fairmont Kea Lani. From the airport, it is about a $65 cab ride down to this area in Wailea, though most people choose to rent a car -- takes about 30-40 minutes to get there. For a more detailed map of where the finest resorts in Wailea are located relative to one another, check out this page. Set on 22 acres, the Kea Lani has the look and feel you would expect from a Fairmont luxury tropical resort, from the 3 pools to the outdoor cafe and open air lobby. They have even received the coveted 4-diamond award from AAA. The official homepage for the Kea Lani is http://www.fairmont.com/kealani. But most of our readers like to hear our first hand impressions and experiences before jumping to the corporate site and booking a reservation. Once you get there, self parking is free and unmonitored in a mostly outdoor lot (there are some covered spots) - as a visitor you could easily park here and walk down to Polo Beach for the afternoon and no one would be the wiser.
Here's a look at the Fairmont from out at sea (actually from the deck of a Molokini Cruise sail). Notice the smaller white buildings in front near the beach - those are the villas which we will talk about later.:
How Much Are Rooms and Villas at the Fairmont Maui? What are the rooms like at the Fairmont?Alright, so we have heard that the Fairmont is pretty expensive -- so the big question is, what are the room rates? How much will a villa set me back? As mentioned above, you have 2 basic room choices at the Fairmont -- either a standard suite (all rooms are suites) or one of the villas near the beach. Let's start with the villas. We checked summer and winter rates to give you an idea of what to expect. In summer, you can get a villa for about $1700 per night and in winter they can go as high as $2000. The villas are all two bedroom and two full baths, plus a sofa bed in the living area, and are 1800sf -- very spacious accomodations to say the least (there are also a few 3BR villas, starting at $2K per night and going up to $2500). Each villa also has its own courtyard and small plunge pool (see photo below), BBQ grill, and pool furniture. There is also a kitchenette (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, etc.), washer and dryer, and A/C in every villa. The villas are located between the pool area and the beach, and are arranged in two tiers with a path running between them. Overall, they are fairly private. If you can afford it, go for the villa. Here is a another photo of one of the villas - you can see the little plunge pool and patio area:
If you are like most mortals, it may even be a stretch to come up with the funds for a standard room -- in this case, a nice 840sf suite. As hotel rooms in Maui go, these are some of the most generously spaced rooms (sorry, suites) we have seen. The bathroom is large and sumptuous, decorated totally in marble, with massive mirrors all around, 2 sinks with lots of shelf space, a huge soaking tub, a toilet in a separate little room, and an open shower alongside the tub. The only downside here is that is is a little tough to take a private shower if your kids need to use the bathroom. The living area has a desk and L-shaped couch which pulls out into a bed. Just inside the entry is a mini-bar sink with small refrigerator and microwave. The bedroom has either 1 king bed or 2 doubles -- we'd love to see 2 queens. I mean, who would pick the 2 double option unless they had kids with them? And if they have kids with them, they probably are a man and wife who are used to a king or double bed at home. Why make them squeeze into a double bed while on an expensive vacation? There are ceiling fans in each room to increase air circulation, though AC is available as well. There is also a large lanai balcony that spans both the living and bedroom areas, with a outdoor table and chairs and a chaise lounge. Technically, there is a maximum capacity of 4 people per room, including children. We squeezed in 5 using the pull-out couch -- just keep it quiet if you don't have the perfect 2 adults, 2 kid family! These rooms go for $450 for garden view in the summer, and start at $525 in the winter. Ocean view suites run about $200-$300 more. If you go for an ocean view room, try to be up on the higher floors for maximum view. This end of the island is pretty quiet, and even the garden view rooms have peaceful mountain vistas -- not too bad considering you'll be outside most of the time the sun is out anyways.
Below is a picture of the grounds of the Fairmont. Lots of green grass and palm trees surround the 3 pool area, with the bright white buildings providing lots of contrast.
Fairmont Kea Lani Beaches and PoolThe beach in front of the Kea Lani is called Polo Beach. It is about 100 yards down the hill from the pool area as you pass the lovely villas on either side of you. It's a fairly small beach with nice sand and small waves most of the time. We did a little boogie boarding here, but the waves were intermittent. There are free beach lounge chairs available, usually stacked further up the beach. A lot of resorts charge for the use of beach furniture, so this is a nice extra. There is a picture of the beach below. There is also a nice beach walk that leads from here all the way up to the Renaissance Wailea, allowing you to stroll and visit the other resorts to the north of you. A lot of people use it for jogging, so it sometimes gets a little crowded and crazy, but still a lovely evening or morning walk to get out and get some exercise.
The Fairmont has 3 different pools. To accomodate those traveling without children, there is an adult-only pool. The other two pools consist of a lower one and an upper one. The upper one connects to the lower one via a 140 foot twisting and turning waterslide. The upper one also has a swim-up bar. Kids seems to love the waterslide - our son rode it continuously for about 2 hours. Our 6 year old loved the section of pool that was 3 feet deep - just the right depth to let little swimmers explore and have fun without worrying about them. There is also a baby pool just 12 inches deep or whatever for the real tiny ones. Pool temperature was good - not too hot, not too cold, little ones could stay in for hours straight without getting the shivers. One complaint we and many others have is about the lack of poolside sitting space and shade. There are a few shade tent kind of structures for stashing some lounge chairs under, but these all cost extra and are usually reserved. The areas around the family pools really have limited space for setting up lounge chairs and can quickly fill up in the morning. There is some grass area nearby where you can set up chairs as well, but most people like to congregate around the pool, and that can be tough to do here. There is plenty of helpful pool staff, offering free cold towels and slices of fresh pineapple, but be warned if you decide to order other food or drink. The staff will enthusiastically get you anything you want, with huge smiles on their faces. And the catch?? Prices are, shall we say, not inexpensive. How about $13 for a beer or cocktail? Ouch. A lunch by the pool for a family of four could set you back $150 or more. So eat and drink at your own risk. Here's a photo from the pool area:
Fairmont Kea Lani Restaurants and FacilitiesWhen it comes to dining, there are a few choices as the Kea Lani. First is, The Kea Lani Restaurant. This is an open-air spot for breakfast buffet, complete with omelets, waffles, fruit, everything you would expect. It's open from 6:30AM to 11AM. Another casual spot is the Polo Beach Grille and Bar, located upper-poolside with sandwiches, burgers, salads, etc. There is a swim up bar here so you can get a drink, or try out the fruit smoothies - tasty! For a taste of Italian, try Caffe Ciao Restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner. Their gourmet pizzas are delicious. The nicest restaurant on the premises is Nick's Fishmarket. As the name suggests, fresh fish is their specialty, and people come from all over Maui for a special dinner at this popular restaurant. Sit outside and enjoy the evening breeze. Pick a wine from a 2000+ bottle winelist. Open for dinner only, collared shirts are required (shorts OK). Oh, it's pretty expensive as well.. Keep in mind that a common complaint is that there is not much in the way of night life here in southern Wailea. You can take a shuttle or car up to the Shops at Wailea for some other dining and shopping options or visit the other nearby resorts for some variety in restaurants, but other than that you will need to drive back up towards Kihei to find more happenings. Of course if you are looking for a quiet, relaxing vacation, this might be just what you want - a secluded, calm location without a lot of noisy distractions.
As to the other Kea Lani resort amenities, there is of couse a spa called Spa Kea Lani. Its open 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m daily and offers all the usual spa services - facials, massages, pedicures. How much do these things cost? As an example, a 50 minute Hawaiian Salt Body Scrub is $155; a 50 minute Vitamin C regenerating facial is $170; an 80 minute Ili Ili Stone Massage is $225; a 50 minute shiatsu massage is $155. Hopefully the relaxation will help you forget the dent in your wallet! There is also a decent sized one room fitness center open 24 hours and accessible via your room key -- they have exercise bikes, treadmills, stair climbers, etc. And its free, another change from many resorts who charge extra for such facilities. It's located just south of the lobby (to your left if you are looking out at the pool) as you head down the passageway towards the Caffe Ciao Bakery & Deli. Speaking of Caffe Ciao Bakery & Deli, its a quick place you can pop in to get snacks and food items. You can get some cereal packs for a kids breakfast, bagels, muffins, fruit, etc. Makes for a cheaper breakfast if you are on a budget, though of course you can also stock up at a Kihei grocery store and keep things in your room refrigerator. Dining out on your lanai is a nice option in the cool morning air - we did it every day.
If you are into golf, there are 3 Wailea golf courses right nearby - the Wailea Emerald Course, the Wailea Old Blue, and the Wailea Gold. You can get more detailed information on golf on our Maui Golf Guide page.