Sigh–the Fairmont Kea Lani–you had me at aloha. The Fairmont certainly isn’t the only Maui hotel to greet guests with a lei upon arrival, but they are definitely the one you pictured when you thought “Hawaiian luxury hotel.” From the fluted archways over the open foyer, to the swooping view of the hotel’s Gatsby-esque grounds, the hotel strikes a balance of extremes between swoony opulence and charming simplicity. Everything is done so absolutely right, by a staff with such gracious serenity, it seems the most natural thing in the world to open the doors of your suite and find a comfortable living room opening onto the ocean-facing terrace, a bedroom (separated by French doors) outfitted with pillow-top mattresses and twin closets, and (my personal favorite) a bathroom paved floor-to-ceiling in Italian marble, strewn with more orchid blossoms and stocked with rose-scented soaps from New York’s Le Labo apothecary. Even the mini-bar went beyond the expected, with my favorite sencha green tea on offer alongside the Kona coffee.
The Fairmont is situated on Maui’s southwest shore in Wailea, a town that doesn’t lack for amusements. Some of the area’s best chefs have put out their shingle there, shops abound featuring local artists and internationally known retailers, and of course there is plenty of sports both on the beach and within the hotel complex. Nonetheless, the Fairmont is not an easy place to leave, even for the day. From the steam of rose-scented bath salts, to the sound of laughter drifting up from adjacent balconies, to the sight of the moon rising through the palms while soaking in the whirlpool tub, I have to confess that a night at the Fairmont Kea Lani was my favorite part of a day in Maui.