Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Introduction
Let me preface this review by saying that I really wanted to love The Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui. Since Fairmont announced the end of the Fairmont President’s Club, I’ve been a bit of a free agent for loyalty, with Marriott being the natural choice given the Gold status I receive with my American Express Platinum Card. Generally I have good/great stays at Marriott properties around the world, though my experience in North America has been limited, with the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui my first extended stay using points.
I booked this hotel as part of a Marriott Hotel+Air package, using 360,000 Marriott Reward points for a 7-night stay and 120,000 Alaska Airline miles. It was a great redemption, especially considering how much paid rates were over spring break in Hawaii.
We didn’t actually use Alaska miles for our flight though, since British Airways offers great redemption rates from the west coast to Hawaii on Alaska flights (I saved the miles for a roundtrip first class flight to Singapore on Japan Airlines instead). Alaska has a very decent economy product, particularly if you pay a bit out of pocket for premium seats, which include extra legroom, early boarding, and cocktails.
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Arrival
We landed shortly after 9pm and attempted to get an Uber to the hotel, which is about 30 minutes away. Unfortunately Uber isn’t able to pickup from the airport (only drop off), so we took a taxi for $60USD – almost double what Uber charges.
The exterior of the hotel is really stunning with a long driveway lit by hanging lanterns, opening into the main entrance with soaring open-air lobby. The hotel recently underwhent a 100-million dollar renovation and I don’t think they skimped on the common spaces. We were greeted by two friendly valet staff and presented with leis, and directed to the front desk for check-in.
The lobby is really beautiful, though I was a bit disappointed with the lack of lounge services. There was plenty of seating, most with incredible views overlooking the property and ocean.
There was also a nice grassy area near the check-in desks with swings, additional seating, and a big ‘Aloha’ sculpture, which seemed pretty popular with the social media crowd (a quick search on Instagram shows about 100,000 photos with the sign).
There was no wait since we arrived so late and were immediately helped by a friendly front-desk agent. While incredibly well-intentioned, she failed to mention any benefits of Gold status (not that there are many to speak of at resort properties other than the chance of an upgrade) and also didn’t talk about any of the ‘benefits’ that come with the mandatory resort fee of $35 dollars per day.
Speaking of resort fees – I sure hate them. I hope a day comes when hotels have to incorporate it into the rate, as there’s really no added value. ‘Perks’ at this property include:
- Wifi (complimentary with status anyway)
- Phone calls (wow)
- 1-hour of bike rentals per day, for two, with additional time billed at $25/hr
- A photo shoot (didn’t know until I checked out)
- Daily fitness class
- 2 bottles of water per day in room (unlimited free at check-in counter though)
- Access to games room
- 15% off laundry
- 10% off spa
- 2 welcome drinks
- Shuttle service
Pretty standard stuff, and I’m not sure how they get away with it. Of course this fee isn’t included on point redemptions, so our free stay actually cost $245USD for the week, and parking is an additional $35/night. While I don’t mind paying these fees as much on award stays, I would be truly upset if I paid $800/night and got charged extra for the above list of ‘benefits’. Anyways, rant over!
Getting back to the check-in. We were informed of our room assignment in a Garden View Room (base room), and when I asked about available upgrades, the front desk agent said she would be happy to put us in an ocean-view room. While I absolutely appreciated the upgrade, I’m not sure why I had to ask since upgrades are a benefit of Gold status, subject to availability.
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Room Options
Before I get into our particular room, I wanted to go over the different categories.
The resort is spread out over a massive property with a number of separate buildings (called Hales) and the main tower (which is where our room was). After spending a week exploring the property, I can’t honestly say which room would be best, but determined that almost all have some drawbacks.
The most premium oceanfront rooms have a walking path between the ocean and patio, so you can expect heavy traffic during the day and almost zero privacy (what’s the point really)
The lobby facing rooms offer no privacy, and I’d imagine get a lot of noise pollution from the lobby at almost all hours
The rooms near the adult pool are probably a top pick for their great view and quieter setting. Rooms overlooking the kids pool are probably the loudest, though offer very convenient access to the waterslide!
The garden facing rooms are probably the best, though again, most have paths in front of the patios so privacy could be an issue depending on which Hale you’re in.
The tower rooms are probably the least desirable for many, but probably my first choice. They are furthest from the beach (5 minute walk) and require an elevator ride, which isn’t ideal. Also be warned, the ocean view rooms are partial, and you need to look beyond a somewhat distracting loading zone where deliveries are made during the day. This is also the entrance for staff, though they were very quiet as they came and went.
Our First Room
We were originally assigned a room at the 5th floor, but were upgraded to the 7th floor with ocean view. While the room certainly seemed nice enough, looking closer revealed some pretty serious housekeeping problems. The bathroom had a musty smell, which may have been from the nasty shower curtain…
Oh, and there was hair in the tub, and on the floor…
And then there was this on the floor around the toilet….
Needless to say, we got switched back to our original room for the night, and promised a clean ocean view room the following day. I wasn’t expecting much in terms of service recovery, but a follow-up from management would have been nice. I admit I’m fairly picky, and probably more observant than the average traveler, but come on. Crap on the floor (literally) and a mouldy shower curtain? Unacceptable at any price.
We spent the following day at the beach and were moved into our new room around 4pm, which was on the top floor of the tower. Although the room felt cleaner, it just didn’t feel as clean as it should have. There were some stains on the floor and some maintenance issues, but after being in three rooms I suspected the housekeeping standard was just a bit lower than what I expected.
Our Second Room
All of the standard rooms are similar, with either two queen beds or a king, and felt exactly like a standard room. Beds, tv, bathroom, closet – check, check, check, check. While nice enough, nothing felt particularly Hawaiian or premium about them, save for the views and a few generic island art pieces. We were travelling with family and opted for a room with two beds, and found them to be very comfortable. Also, top marks for having real queen beds, not doubles, or worse, twins (Four Seasons is notorious for having twins in two-bed rooms).
The room had a Nespresso machine, which is about as good as in-room coffee gets, though the pods were never replenished without asking, and only paper cups were available.
There was also a mini-fridge which came empty, allowing for some personal storage. There was a huge gash out of the furniture and all of the handles were crooked/loose, which was really sad for a recently refurbished room.
We were gifted a bottle of wine and some chocolates from the guest coordinator who had answered some of my emails prior to arrival, which was a nice touch!
There was a decent size closet with space to hang clothes at the entrance just beyond the bathroom, which housed the iron, robes, and in-room safe.
The bathroom was directly to the right of the entrance and featured a sink area outside of the toilet/tub. While this is probably preferred for families trying to get ready in the morning, I really dislike the configuration. We all woke up at separate times and the light/noise would travel easily from the exposed vanity area.
The bathroom featured a large soaking tub/shower combo, with amenities by a local company (a nice departure from the horrible Thann amenities found at most Marriott properties). The vanity area was well-lit with a make-up mirror, lots of towels, hairdryer, etc and plenty of storage for three adults.
The lanai was the highlight of the room, with partial views of the ocean and beautifully manicured Wailea properties. There was only seating for two, though we brought the office chair out for additional seating (because who needs an office chair in Hawaii).
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Beaches And Pools
Let’s talk about the real reason everyone comes to Hawaii – to be outside! One step outside and all memories of crooked handles and mouldy shower curtains vanish. Simply put, this property is stunning, and quite possibly the nicest resort in Wailea (coming from a true Fairmont and Four Seasons fanboy, this is tough to admit).
The property is oceanfront, and has the closest proximity to the water for unrivalled views, but there isn’t direct beach access out front. Instead, you can go either left or right and take about a 2 minute walk to find plenty of sandy beaches shared by other resorts. Marriott staff are available to setup chairs and umbrellas (two per room, though we never were turned down) and I found the service to be quite prompt and friendly.
We stuck mainly to the beach towards the right (where our room faced) as we found it a little less busy than the other.
For those looking for an even nicer experience, I recommend taking the short drive (Uber was about 10 bucks) to Makena Beach, also known as Big Beach. This was easily one of my favourite beaches ever. There’s even a clothing optional side (known as little beach) just beyond the far hill seen in this photo.
Pools at the hotel are stunning, with infinity edges overlooking the ocean. There is an adults only one located in the middle of the property, another one directly on the water, and a family one towards the back of the property with a really fun waterslide! Service at the pools was incredible, with friendly staff always willing to help. We were there over spring break and the hotel was entirely sold out, and we never had trouble getting a decent chair by the pool, which can be a major problem at some resorts. The cabanas are for rent, though I didn’t even ask how much (I don’t suspect they’re cheap as they were mostly vacant).
Poolside Cabanas For Rent
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Dining
We didn’t actually eat at the resort much during our stay, save for one breakfast once and a couple of snacks through in-room dining. Why? Too rich for our blood. $33 for breakfast is just out of the question with a few different options at The Shops up the road for a fraction of the price. Furthermore, Brad and I had hundreds of dollars in dining certificates for The Fairmont, so the few nights we felt like eating overpriced resort food we walked 20-minutes down the path and ate there.
The breakfast we did have was very good though, which was presented at Humble Market Kitchen with fantastic service and great views overlooking the ocean. The process in seating people is a bit strange, where you give your name and wait despite there being multiple tables available. It kind of reminded me of triage at the ER, and I assume it’s just a system they have in place to stay organized even when they aren’t full.
Poolside, Kapa offered a variety of food options and drinks, and is where welcome drink coupons can be redeemed. For those who don’t like mai tai’s, you can order any beverage you want off the menu up to $15. I’m glad they were free, as they didn’t have much soul and tasted a bit generic.
We actually went to Kapa for snacks one afternoon but were ignored for 15 minutes after being seated, so weren’t able to sample the food.
There was also a food truck parked by the family pool with a variety of options, though we weren’t able to try any.
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Service
Service was by far the biggest letdown at the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui, particularly from the management level. Let’s rundown some of the service failures:
- In pre-arrival emails, I was referred to as Mr Weatherly several times, despite me actually correcting the person (awkward). I get that mistakes happen, but if you’re attempting to be premium by offering anticipatory emails, you need to get the name right, in my opinion
- Front desk agent was nice and well-intentioned, but didn’t seem empowered to do her job effectively
- Management (the ones I interacted with) could be summed up as a joke. When I’m assigned a filthy room, I expect someone from management to reach out. Only after I made the effort did I talk to anyone, and her response was pure ‘hospitality bot’ – ‘I’m sorry Mr Weatherly, definitely not up to Marriott standards, bla bla bla’. I always gauge hotel management based on TripAdvisor reviews, and while I don’t put much stock in the reviews themselves, I can generally get a good feel for management based on their responses, and I basically nailed it for this property. Ed Tomlin, the Resident Manager, has done a fantastic job training his assistant to use the copy and paste function when responding to reviews
- When we were ignored at KAPA and decided to leave, I asked for the manager contact info. The server handed me a post-it note with the hotel general phone number. Fantastic
- Service recovery was simply non-existant for the mishaps at check-in – they didn’t do anything. While Jennifer Montano offered to buy ‘me and my friends’ (I had mentioned at least half a dozen times Brad was my husband, not my friend) dinner, we declined. I asked her to ensure a clean room, to which she promised a follow-up from the Director of Housekeeping, although that never happened
- Interestingly enough, valet staff, front desk agents, pool staff, and most servers were all fantastic, which is a bit surprising given the top-heavy incompetence here
- Kind of minor, but the welcome screen on the TV changed every day. Every single morning a different guest name appeared on the screen, which made me wonder where my name was showing up in the hotel. While I couldn’t care less about a welcome message on the TV, I do care how hotels use my data, and don’t appreciate my name being broadcast in someone else’s room (and I’m sure Mr Gobransky and Mr Steele didn’t appreciate it either)
- The power went out one day, and the communication from staff was non-existant. It was down for at least 8 hours, and only after about 4 was an out-of-service sign placed near the elevator. Also, no Wifi or cable for much of the day. You’d think they would waive the resort fee, but of course not. We truly flushed $35 down the drain that day
Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. But seriously. I paid a hefty number of points to stay here, while others paid a small fortune. If you want to compete with Four Seasons and Fairmont, you need to bring your game. In the end, this was the most disappointing Marriott stay I’ve had to date, and by far the most expensive. Management needs to get it together, though I doubt they will as long as they’re the best located hotel in Wailea and continue to sell-out rooms.
Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui Bottom Line
All said, I still had a great time, beacause it’s Maui! Unfortunately, that’s exactly why bad service will continue to exist at this property (and likely other resorts) – management simply doesn’t need to bend over backwards for the ‘don’t you know who I am’ Marriott status crowd – they will still sell rooms, even if I choose to take my business elsewhere.
Would I recommend this hotel to others looking for a resort stay on Maui? Probably, but with the right expectations. If all you care about is location, beach, and sun, this is your spot. If you like personalized service and competent leadership when things go wrong, go pay double the price and stay at The Four Seasons.
Personally, I’d rather rent an Airbnb in Hawaii (one of the only markets I would ever say that) and save my points for some truly fantastic award redemptions in other parts of the world, where good service exists.
Have you stayed at The Marriott Wailea Beach Resort Maui before? How did your experience compare with ours? Let us know in the comment section below!