Fairmont Kea Lani Review:Hawaiian Honeymoon Destination: Luxury on a Budget Edition

The Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui was everything I dreamed it would be. From the moment you pull onto the property you are greeted by friendly and helpful staff, you’re treated to a lei of beautiful purple flowers for the ladies and beads for the men.  As you check in your bags are taken care of and you’re offered guava mango juice. Yum! When we walked into our room I was amazed outright at the size,  it was seriously the size of my Manhattan apartment.  Not joking, peeps. The decor is tropical resort-esque and everything was immaculately clean.  I had read in some reviews on Trip Advisor that the rooms needed to be updated and I have to say that although they do have an upcoming renovation scheduled (pics to follow later in this post) that we couldn’t have been happier with the state of the room as is.  (And we’re pretty spoiled from hotels at this point).   I’m by no means saying a vacation here is going to be inexpensive but it’s a five star hotel and that’s how you’re treated. I’m a big believer in “You get what you pay for.”  My only problem with paying alot comes when I’m not getting what I paid for.  I can assure you that at the Fairmont you are getting what you pay for. So, my advice is just to help you save money and a few tricks to cut corners if you’re splurging but really are still on a budget.

The hotel is located on the pristine white sands of Wailea, perfect for Hawaiian vacations.  The Fairmont Kea Lani is Hawaii’s only luxury oceanfront resort featuring spacious suites and villas accommodations for Maui vacations and vacation packages. Plus it’s only 17 miles away from the airport.  Many people are curious if they should stay in Lahaina or Wailea.  I have to say I’d say 100% Wailea.  Lahaina is really fun to walk around for an afternoon and have lunch but when you think of Hawaiian honeymoons you think of Wailea. Lahaina is more like a beach town or surf town.  And the drive between the two is only about 45 minutes by the beach so it’s beautiful.

One-bedroom suites offer a spacious 840 square feet of living space and private lanais (patios). Rooms also are equipped with high speed internet access–plus, if you’re a Fairmont’s President Club member it’s free (I recommend signing up for this–it’s free!) Here I am in the spacious living room. I can’t say we spent much time on this couch since every day of weather was gorgeous so if we were in the room we were out on our balcony. But it did make for a nice waiting area when I was waiting for Ross to finish his sunscreen before we hit the beach.

Here’s the bedroom. The bed was super comfy and I just love the white linens. You know everything is clean clean clean! The maid service was also wonderful. Every time I came back to the room it seemed to have been refreshed.  At turn down they would also leave a little card that said the weather for the next day as well as the time of sunrise/sunset.

The huge marble bathroom contains twin pedestal sinks, deep soaking tub and walk-in shower.  A wet bar, microwave oven, coffee maker and compact refrigerator are also standard in all suites.The shower was amazing. Bath products were nice and smelled like flowers.

Every night we hung out in the lobby before dinner. Mary, the head waitress there makes each night special. She’s just so super sweet, she keeps you coming back.  Well, her and the live music and tropical drinks. They do get a little pricey though so we actually bought some Maui Brewing Company beer and a bottle of wine so that we could have a drink and look over the ocean before coming down.  This really helps save some money because when you buy the beer at a local store it comes out to be about $1/beer. If you have one drink on your awesome balcony a night (which I suspect some of you have more than one), a little pregame if you will, you’ll save about $15/drink. Our philosophy is we’d rather always order more food and pay for that than pay for booze, especially when you have this beautiful balcony overlooking the ocean. But of course that’s a personal choice. It’s just that the restaurants at the hotel and in Maui are so spectacular I had a hard time spending $15 a drink when that money could have gotten me something like Oishi Sushi (deep fried spicy tuna roll).

Here’s a pic of us having a beer on our balcony, watching the sunset. Doesn’t get much better than this!

Our second day at the Fairmont we met with PR extraordinaire, Trudy for a little site tour of the property so we could show you girlies the new renovations–pics that aren’t available online yet.  So, as I said, I think the hotel is beautiful just the way it is but every few years they do renovations and update their rooms. Here’s the room that they already renovated.  Nice right?

And here’s an updated bedroom.  They streamlined the furniture and chose more subdued colors.  They also updated the TVs to flatscreen, though I have to say we had such fun-filled days that we never turned the TV on once–the true sign of a great vacation.

The renovation is scheduled for this fall.  All three swimming pool decks will be replaced with quartzite, a naturally beautiful stone that will dramatically enhance the expansive pool areas.  The Fairmont Kea Lani will continue to be a full service resort over the renovation dates scheduled August 30 – October 28, 2010.  Learn about renovation details and take advantage of spectacular discounts with their “Renovation with Aloha” rates. Inquire within.

Here’s a picture of one of the villas. There are 2 and 3 bedroom villas available.  The villas are a step closer to the beach and have their own little dip pools.  Think privacy. You have your own full kitchen and grill outside.  You can even hire your own personal chef through the hotel to come throw you dinner parties. It’s ideal for families and celebs.  Celebs like Kate Hudson, Britney Spears, and Jason Alexander have all stayed at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui.

Here’s a shot of the lobby. It’s glorious. The ceiling is open and there are no walls. It looks straight out onto the ocean.  They even call their hallways “Breezeways!” How cute? There are several different shops to peruse while you’re there filled with fun little treats, souveniers, etc.  The hotel also has this awesome little cafe right near the pool called Cafe Ciao where you can get little goodies to eat poolside. It has an amazing coffee shop like Starbucks but better. We got a Banana Mocha Frappe, which had real banana in it, every morning. Other faves of mine included iced macadamia nut coffee and unsweetened mango iced tea.  They have different pasta and veggie premade salads too that make a great cheap and light lunch for the pool or beach. I got two small containers (which was alot of pasta) and an iced tea and that came to about $16.

They also have a restaurant/bar right by the pool that serves awesome nachos.  The only thing we got there that we didn’t like was the fish wrap. Ick. I just didn’t like that the fish had the skin on it, but that’s just me being a super picky seafood eater.

The hotel also offers an amazing Buffet brunch where you can get anything and everything you desire.  They just renovated this room so it’s a feast for the eyes and the stomach.  They have an omelette station where you can literally add any veggie or cheese that your heart desires.  They even have low-fat options like egg beaters.  The buffet is filled with fruit, pancakes, eggs, breakfast meat, waffles, granola, pastries and all the fixins you could imagine.  This is about $30 per person but if you do this, trust me, you won’t be hungry until dinner.

There is Japanese themed restaurant that was our favorite for lunch, Ko.  We had a teriyaki chicken sandwich and an amazing Tofu stir fry for lunch. The convenience of not having to go far from the pool is worth the price, sandwiches are about $20/25. Ko is an absolute MUST for dinner. Make sure to check out our Ko Restaurant Maui Must Eat review.

The property is stunning and has 3 pools. There’s one with a swim up bar for adults and also a waterslide for kids.  In the other pool there’s a basketball hoop for kids and adults and then there is even an Adult’s Only pool where you can get some peace, read a book and just lay out without getting splashed.  This was where we spent most of our time.  Like the Four Seasons they brought around treats like fruit skewers and cold compresses to cool you off. Has anyone seen Couples Retreat? It’s basically like Eden.

The hotel also has the usual amenities like fabulous golf, an awesome spa and kids club. A full activities program at this exceptional resort offers snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, scuba diving and island-wide excursions. Learn about Hawaiian culture through the resort’s own Hawaiian Canoe Experience.

We had an amazing time doing this.  You get up early and the guides give you an awesome background about what life was like on Maui back in the day.  They teach you the basics about a canoe and get you ready to go out.  Once out on the water they even give you the option to jump out of the boat and throw on a snorkel mask and check out some of the oceanlife.  I was terrified but inspired by the adorable woman in my boat who didn’t know how to swim but threw on a life jacket and jumped in, refusing to miss such an awesome experience.  I figured, hey if she can’t swim and can do it, so can I.  What you see in the ocean is breathtaking. Trust me.

If you prefer a more leisurely pace, pamper yourself with a rejuvenating treatment in one of Hawaii’s most acclaimed spas, Spa Kea Lani. Fitness classes are also available such as yoga, body contouring, Polo Beach workout and aquacise.

So here’s the DL, rooms start at about $400 but you can always call and see if they have any specials going on.  For instance, right now if you book here for your honeymoon you get a free bottle of wine and dessert at Ko Restaurant.  Here’s my advice to save yourself a little dough:

Buy some beer or wine and have a drink on your balcony (most rooms have ocean views so it really is beautiful and relaxing) before you leave for the night or go to have a drink in the hotel bar.

Don’t valet your car, self-park in the guest parking. It’s only like a 2 minute walk.

Do either the breakfast buffet and be full all day or go to Cafe Ciao and get some fruit, yogurt or pasta salads to go.

The hotel offers complimentary bottled water in the rooms, take this for hikes instead of stopping to get it on the way.

Go off the property for lunches some days–we tried an amazing Mexican restaurant called Fred’s Mexican. It’s about a 12 minute drive from the hotel and tacos were about $12. They’re also supposed to have awesome Margaritas.  We were on our way to go hike Iao Valley though so we skipped the cocktails. You can also get great suggestions from their concierge who rocked–ask for Patty she really knew her stuff!

We absolutely loved it here and I must say, originally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay here or the Four Seasons. Well, we walked over to the Four Seasons for lunch one day and I wasn’t any more impressed with it there than the Fairmont (which was significantly less money). I read some reviews online saying that the Fairmont had to work on it’s luxury,  I must say I totally disagree. Nothing here was anything but five star treatment!

Visit Fairmont Kea Lani for rates and more information about the property.

Also check out our restaurant review of Ko Restaurant.

*Smartypanties was hosted by the Fairmont at a special press rate in consideration for a review for our fabulous readers. As always though all opinions herein are my own!*

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