Tag Archives: Maui Vacation 2016

Hotel Review: Maui Seaside Hotel

maui seaside beach
To kick off our Hawaiian get-away in September, Nicoleen and I stayed one night at the Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului.  This small, Hawaiian-owned hotel is located a few minutes from the airport, which was the main reason we chose to stay there.  Since our flight arrived after 8:00 P.M. we needed an inexpensive place to sleep to avoid wasting a free night at one of the two main resorts of the trip.

A one-night stay doesn’t provide a lot of material for a review.  On the other hand, a short stay really puts the hotel to the test.  They get one chance to impress you, so they better get it right!  Let’s see how well Maui Seaside Hotel did at impressing us. . .

The Room

We booked into a “standard room” with two double beds.  As far as I can tell, the only difference between the different room types is the size and location.  The website lists virtually identical in-room amenities for each type.  Every room type has only two options for bed configuration: 1 king or two double.

Maui Seaside Hotel standard room

The standard room was nothing special.  The TV and table and chairs were one one side of the room and the two beds were along the opposite wall.  The bathroom was small but adequate for our short stay.  The fridge and coffee maker were in the coat closet.

Maui Seaside Hotel soaps

Maui Seaside Hotel fridge

Despite the fairly dated decor and furniture, the room scored high on what we consider the #1 category: cleanliness.  In my book you can get away with a lot if the place is immaculately cleaned.  The Maui Seaside Hotel seems to understand that part; we had no complaints at all about the condition of the room.

Our view was basically a parking lot view but on Maui there’s no such thing as a totally bad view.  Almost anywhere you look either Haleakala or the West Maui Mountains are visible on a clear day.


Maui Seaside Hotel is fairly thin on amenities, but it’s not billed as a resort so that’s perfectly fine.  There is a central courtyard with a pool and patio area.  We didn’t get a chance to swim but the water felt nice and the chairs were comfortable.

The courtyard at Maui Seaside Hotel, with the pool and lounge chairs visible in the background.

The courtyard at Maui Seaside Hotel, with the pool and lounge chairs visible in the background.

A notable side effect of the time change when flying to Hawaii from the mainland is that you naturally wake up very early!  It’s probably less pronounced for West Coasters, but for us Midwesterners it’s a 5 hour difference.  We got up around 5:00 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep so we got to see the hotel “wake up.”

We noticed some grounds workers sweeping up every single dead leaf that had fallen on the parking lot and lawn areas.  The lawn was some kind of turf that was as soft and smooth as a putting green.  The combination of the workers cleaning everything up and the freshly rain-washed courtyard gave the place a very clean feel.

A leaf-camouflaged slug we spotted after the early morning rain.

A leaf-camouflaged slug we spotted after the early morning rain.

Some of the lovely flora of Maui. I took this photo while walking on the beach in front of Maui Seaside Hotel that first morning.

Some of the lovely flora of Maui. I took this photo while walking on the beach in front of Maui Seaside Hotel that first morning.

The beach isn’t specifically meant for swimming as there’s no lifeguard or beach chairs.  However, on our morning walk we saw a few people taking a dip in the morning waves.


Maui Seaside Hotel is connected to Tante’s Island Cuisine (www.tantesislandcuisine.com).  After our jet-lagged sleeplessness and morning walk, it was time for breakfast.  Tante’s has an awesome breakfast menu with lots of variety.  Nicoleen was ready for some familiar fare, and I was excited to try one of the many savory and hearty options to kick off our culinary journey in this new destination for us.

Maui Seaside Hotel - Tante's Island Cuisine breakfast

Shredded Kahlua pork, bacon, fried rice, eggs, and grilled sausage for breakfast? Why don’t we do this kind of stuff on the mainland??

Nicoleen eagerly awaiting her food, with Tante's ambiance in the background.

Nicoleen eagerly awaiting her food, with Tante’s early morning ambiance in the background.

Because we were some of the first ones in the door that morning, the food came exceptionally fast!  We split Nicoleen’s meal and I couldn’t finish mine so I got a to-go box.  Her review was “good” and I heartily enjoyed my meat-filled, salty, island breakfast.  I couldn’t tell if the passion-orange juice was fresh made or from a can, but I especially enjoyed it either way.  The prices were very reasonable as well.

(We returned to Tante’s for breakfast a week later after descending Haleakala, from where we watched the sunrise.  This time the service was quite a bit slower but I attribute it mostly to the fact that it was Sunday at brunch time.)

Cost and Value

Our one-night stay at Maui Seaside Hotel and our car rental were the only components of our trip that we paid “full price” for.  Even so, I looked for a good deal when shopping around for each.  This hotel provided complimentary airport transportation and was reasonably priced so it fit our criteria.

The price for our room on the hotel website was $149, which turned into $168.99 with taxes and fees.  As I explained briefly in the main trip review page for our Hawaiian get-away, I booked this room through Rocketmiles.  Booking through that website showed the same $149 rate but after taxes and fees it was somehow $179.49. 

-= Rocketmiles =- makes you pay up front for your hotel stay, but gives you bonus frequent flyer miles (program of your choice) as a reward.  Each hotel earns you a specific number of miles, starting at 1,000.  Maui Seaside Hotel is worth 1k miles, but through an e-mail promotion I got an additional 4,000 for using a specific credit card to pay for the room.  Since 5k American Airlines miles is much more valuable than the extra $11 it cost to get the room through Rocketmiles, it was well worth it!

Click here to check out Rocketmiles for yourself.  It’s a pretty simple program and if you’re paying for a hotel room, the extra miles earned may be worth it for you too! 
(I get referral bonus miles if you reserve a room through this link)

Overall impressions

maui seaside

Our stay at Maui Seaside Hotel was an afterthought in the big scheme of our trip.  It was basically there to absorb our first half-wasted day so we could maximize our time at the luxury resorts we stayed at for free later in the week.  Accordingly, we didn’t expect much.

Overall, our expectations were slightly exceeded.  The place was a bit dated but was very well kept up.  The few staff we encountered we very friendly and seemed to genuinely care about guests’ experiences.  Complimentary airport transportation was a nice touch and helped solidify our decision to stay here.

If our trip had been less resort-centric and more sightseeing-centric, Maui Seaside Hotel would have made a perfectly acceptable base of operations.  If we ever return to Maui and need to pay for a hotel for one or more nights, we won’t hesitate to stay again at the Maui Seaside Hotel!

Check out these other posts related to our Maui Vacation 2016!

Our Hawaiian Get-Away 2016
Hotel Review – Andaz Maui at Wailea
Hotel Review – Grand Wailea: A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Maui Vacation Field Report #1
Maui Vacation Field Report #2

Our Hawaiian Get-Away 2016

In September of 2016, Nicoleen and I embarked on our long-awaited Hawaiian get-away.  This 7-night luxury trip to Maui was our first time to Hawaii, and knocked off one item in my bucket list.  It took some advanced tactical planning to get the flights and all the hotel stays to align properly.  Read on to find out how we planned and executed our much needed Hawaiian get-away and got $4,152 worth of lodging and airfare for $189 by tactically redeeming miles and free nights!Maui sunset from Grand Wailea

[Mostly] Free Hotels

After our involved and arduous planning phase, we accomplished our goal of 6 free nights at luxury resorts.  Since our flight didn’t arrive in Maui until late evening, we wanted to burn our first night at an inexpensive hotel near the airport.  That way we would get to enjoy our whole first day at the Andaz.

With a little help from Tripadvisor reviews (always part of my research) we settled on Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului.  I had an e-mail offer from Rocketmiles for 4,000 bonus miles with my first booking.  The price for the room was only $11 more through the Rocketmiles price search.  Since I value 5,000 American Airlines miles at far higher than the $11 difference, the offer was well worth it.

maui seaside– Click for my full review of the Maui Seaside Hotel –

After the brief stay in Kahuilui it was on to the incredibly upscale southwest Maui town of Wailea.  There we stayed at the two resorts that our whole trip revolved around.  The first was the Andaz Maui at Wailea.  The second was the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort.

- Click for my full review of the Andaz Maui at Wailea -– Click for my full review of the Andaz Maui at Wailea –

Grand Wailea Pools– Click for my full review of the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort –

Our hotel schedule looked like this:

Cost Summary

Hawaiian Get-Away cost summary

* Add the $95 annual fee on the Citi Hilton Reserve to our lodging cost, if you want to count that.

Points earned on the trip were 4,993 Hyatt points, 4,693 Hilton points, 4,179 American Airlines miles, and approximately 1,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Origin of Concept

I had known about the Chase Hyatt card and the Citi Hilton Reserve card from my early days of credit cards, points and miles.  These are very popular cards because of their sign-up bonuses: both cards offer two free nights at any category of property from their respective portfolios.  Obviously the value potential when redeeming these free nights is enormous.  Each card could conceivably be used for $1000+/night resorts.  I briefly discussed the possibilities for these free nights in this post when we first got these cards.

hyatt-hilton-smallBetween two people you’ll have a total of 8 free nights if each of you gets both cards.  It’s a little tricky though, because the Hilton free nights are only good on weekends (Fri, Sat, Sun nights).  So in order to get 8 nights in a row, you’d have to split your stay at the Hilton in two, with the 4 Hyatt nights in between.  We had no interest in switching hotels twice, so our goal was 6 nights split between 4 Hyatt nights and 2 Hilton nights.  (We had to do this anyway since I had already used both free nights from my Hilton card on previous trips).

The trick then became finding two amazing properties close to each other, one Hilton and one Hyatt. . .

The Planning Phase

As you may have guessed from the post I referenced above, I had already given some thought to which pair of Hilton and Hyatt properties I was aiming for.  There are a number of fantastic locations around the globe with worthwhile resorts from each chain near to each other.  But I had my heart set on Hawaii; specifically the Andaz Maui from Hyatt and the Grand Wailea from Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria collection.

The logistics of this trip were quite a feat to sort out . . . but possible with enough research and advanced planning!

The logistics of this trip were quite a tangled mess to sort out . . . but it was possible with enough research and advanced planning!

This trip was a real doozie to plan!  I had to coordinate 2 free hotel stays at highly in-demand properties.  The dates had to fit with our work schedules.  We needed to be reasonably certain we could arrange child care for the dates.  Plus, the hotel dates needed to mesh with available flights we could purchase with miles.

Here’s how my thought process worked as I approached this monumental task:
  1. Time window.  We got the card bonuses (free night certificates) in December and we had already picked out September or October as our target date range.  It’s a good time to visit Hawaii and it’s also a relatively slow time for me at work.  A 9-10 month lead time would also improve our chances of finding free nights and flights that all worked together.
  2. Free hotels.  There were multiple options for airlines and frequent flier programs to get to Hawaii, but we were aiming for two specific hotels with limited award night availability.  I knew that hotels would be the limiting factor, so that’s where I started.  The hotel availability was so limited that I didn’t even look at flights at all until I had the hotels set.  The free night certificates are completely refundable, so there was no risk to booking them “in the blind” as far as airfare was concerned.
  3. Free flights.  Once I locked down hotel reservations and used all 6 certificates, I began the flight search.  I checked my usual three: United, American, and Delta.  Right away I noticed that most flights from the lower 48 to Hawaii arrive in the evening, and most return flights are red-eyes.    That threw a wrench in the plans because I didn’t want to waste virtually the whole first day at one of the awesome hotels by getting in late.  So I moved my search for the outgoing flight up a day and figured we could stay the first night in an inexpensive hotel by the airport.  I settled on a Delta round trip, which would use up our entire Delta SkyMiles balances.  (good riddance!)
  4. Bonus night.  Because we would be arriving a night early, we would need to find a hotel for that first night.  I had recently seen an e-mail offer for bonus American Airlines miles when booking hotels through Rocketmiles.  I found a decent-looking hotel near the airport in Kahului and booked it through Rocketmiles for the bonus miles.
  5. Car rental.  We waited a little too close for comfort on this.  I think we reserved a rental car less than 2 months from the trip.  It ended up working out fine, but we should have taken care of it earlier, to be safe.

The struggle with free nights at the Andaz Maui

Certain Hyatt resorts are notorious for being difficult to book with points or free night certificates.  There’s a whole Flyertalk thread devoted to this annoyance.  It’s a combination of supply/demand, games some hotels play with room types, and minimum stay requirements.  The Andaz Maui at Wailea ranks up their with the worst of them, as it has all three factors going for it.

Example: If I try to book for two nights this coming September, it shows standard rooms available:

Check the box for paying with points and the rooms disappear:

But, if you extend the stay to 5 nights, the rooms are magically available again.  This is an example of a hidden minimum stay requirement:

The minimum stay requirement in the example above is probably the one that gets most people.  The minimum stays aren’t publicized; you just have to search around for room availability.  Some dates it’s 5 nights minimum, others it’s 2, or any other number.

Free night certificates can only be used to book “standard” rooms, which are the same ones bookable with points.  This is another way some Hyatts manipulate room availability.  They re-categorize a handful of rooms to a “lower” room type and calling that new type the “standard” room.  This new room type can exist for reasons such as a less desirable view or being on a lower floor.  I call shenanigans!

How we beat the shenanigans and booked the room

With a little help from reports on Flyertalk and blog posts like this one from Million Mile Secrets, I went to book our free rooms.  The Hyatt website was giving us the same minimum stay error for our selected dates as shown above.  I was anticipating that so I had Nicoleen call the Hyatt Gold Passport reservation line.

The rep put up a little resistance when the same online system didn’t let him book Nicoleen’s 2 night stay with her certificates from her Chase Hyatt card.  She played dumb and told him that each night showed up as available when she selected cash as the payment type.  And, she reasoned, if the same room type was available with cash, she should be able to book it with her certificates.  She was successful.  Two down, two to go!

Next It was my turn.  I tried the same thing but the rep I got actually cited the 5-day minimum stay.  I told him as long as the standard room was available (which it certainly was), I should be able to book it with my certificates.  He once again mentioned the 5 night minimum so I had to play my ace: “If it’s not possible, then how did my wife just book the two previous nights?  Here’s her confirmation number…”  The rep put me on hold and after about 10 minutes a manager greeted me.  She said usually it’s not possible, but in this case she would make an exception and book the room for me.

The Andaz Maui at Wailea is such an amazing property, it was worth the extra hassle to hunt and fight for the free night reservations.

The Andaz Maui at Wailea is such an amazing property, it was worth the extra hassle to hunt and fight for the free night reservations.

Apparently there is a way for the Hyatt customer service reps to book free nights and override the individual property’s minimum stay limit.  It might take a few HUCAs (Hang Up and Call Again) but it can be done.  Or at least it could be done when we booked this trip.  This type of thing is constantly evolving and I would recommend reading recent discussion in the Flyertalk forum for the latest intel.

Booking the Hilton free nights

Using the Hilton free nights from the Citi Hilton Reserve card is actually more restrictive than the Hyatt certificates, but it’s more cut and dry.

Hilton also limits their capacity of points-bookable rooms.  On top of the limited supply, they further limit the number of points-bookable rooms at the “standard” award level.  These are the equivalent of an airline’s “saver level” award seat.  Only the standard room type at the standard award level can be booked with the Citi free nights.  One more restriction: the Citi free nights can only be used on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.

Despite the restrictions, it’s easy to search for available dates.  When searching for a room on the Hilton website, check the “flexible dates” and “Hilton Honors points” boxes:


The results will look like this:


You can then click “Forward a week” to scroll through the dates.  Standard award rates are always nice round numbers.  In the Grand Wailea’s case, it’s 95,000 points.  As of right now, September 8th-10th, 2017 is an available weekend stay!

Before booking the Hyatt nights, I had confirmed that the two days following that hotel stay were available weekend nights at the Grand Wailea at standard rates.  A few clicks later, and both hotels were booked!

Free airfare (the easy part)

By the time I got all the hotel stays to line up, our dates were the only stretch in our 2 month window that would work.  Being tied to specific flight dates typically makes finding free flights more difficult.  But we had a few factors working in our favor as well.  We had decent balances in all three major U.S. frequent flier programs (United, American, Delta), Hawaii is a popular place to fly, and we were starting our search 9 months in advance.

Right off the bat our specific travel dates narrowed us down to Delta flights.  Nicoleen and I had over 90k combined Delta miles.  Since Delta has the worst redemption rates in the universe for award flights, our round trip economy flights would cost us 45k miles per person.

The other option was to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air and book the exact same Delta flight for 25k miles per person.  (For a full explanation of how this works, check out this post by Milevalue: Guide to Booking Delta Flights to Hawaii for 25k Korean Miles Roundtrip).

Despite living near a Delta hub (MSP) I value Delta Skymiles so lowly, I had previously resolved to use them the first chance I could.  So I gave up a potential 50,000 point savings on a 90,000 mile flight in order to get rid of my Delta balance!  I had to pay a $120 fee to transfer some of Nicoleen’s miles to me so we both had over 45k. . . and I still think I made the right choice!

My complimentary meal on the 5 hour flight LAX-OGG. The price of flying for free. :)

My complimentary meal on the 5 hour flight LAX-OGG. The price of flying for free. 🙂

Cost Breakdown


Our outgoing and return Delta flights were both two-leg economy flights with a layover at LAX.  The cash value was actually pretty reasonable at $605.01 per person, round trip.  We paid 45k Delta Skymiles per person.  There was a $120 transfer fee involved in order to get both our account balances up to 45k.  We also paid $25 each way to check a bag.

We earned the majority of our Skymiles with the Delta Gold American Express card, which we both got early in our credit card careers.


We stayed the first night of our Hawaiian get-away at the the Maui Seaside Hotel.  When all was said and done, it cost us $179.  With the stay we earned over 4,179 American Airlines Miles, which is worth at least $50 to me.

Our next 4 nights were at the Andaz Maui at Wailea.  We used 4 free night certificates that we earned by each getting the Chase Hyatt card.  The cash price for a fully refundable stay at the time we booked the room was $439.  With the mandatory valet fee ($25), daily resort fee ($40), and tax, the nightly total would have cost us $540, for a total of $2,160.  The resort fee is covered with the free night, so all we had to pay was the valet fee, $106!

The last two nights of the trip were at Hilton’s Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort.  The cash price for our room at the Grand Wailea was $327.  With resort fee, valet, and tax, two nights would have been $872.  Our cost was just the valet with tax: $62.50!

Ground Transportation:

We decided to see what the smaller, non-chain car rental companies had to offer on Maui.  Our search revealed some amusing results.  One particular company had a category called “old vans” which consisted of early 90’s minivans at a bargain price!

We went with a company called Maui Car Rentals that had Mustang convertibles for less than the price of compact economy cars at the major chain rental agencies.  I got this 3-5 year old Mustang convertible that ran and looked great for $223!  We got a free ride from the airport and they let us drop the car off at the airport after hours.  Maui Car Rentals nō ka ’oi!


We had a running joke with the hotel valet drivers.  When requesting our car we told them we had the white Mustang convertible.  I think about 90% of the cars on the island were white Mustang convertible rentals!



This Hawaiian get-away for Nicoleen and me was the culmination of a lot of planning.  We had this or a similar trip in mind way back when we planned our credit card applications a year prior.  The Chase Hyatt card and the Citi Hilton Reserve cards make a potent combination if enough advanced thought it given to the bonus redemptions.  For us, the research and planning paid off!

We managed to stay at luxury resorts on Maui that we could have normally never afforded.  Throw in the virtually free airfare and the whole trip cost us less than a budget weekend to Florida would have cost!

Another added bonus of virtually free airfare and hotels is the freedom it affords you with other spending.  You can splurge on dining and entertainment and not feel guilty about it.

Lobster deviled eggs, Proletariat woodfired pizza, and the best fries on the planet - at Monkeypod farm-to-table restaurant in Wailea, Maui.

Lobster deviled eggs, Proletariat wood-fired pizza, and the best fries on the planet – at Monkeypod farm-to-table restaurant in Wailea, Maui.

Do you want to learn the tactics we used to plan and execute this amazing Hawaiian get-away?  Like the ValueTactics Facebook page, comment, ask, and interact!

For more on this Hawaiian get-away trip, check out these related posts:

Hotel Review – Grand Wailea: A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Grand Wailea title
The second major hotel stay on our 2016 Hawaiian get-away was at the opulent Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort.  Our two night stay wasn’t nearly enough time to fully appreciate the scope of this place.  One of the first major resorts built in Wailea, it covers 40 acres and has almost 850 guest rooms.  Like every property in the Waldorf Astoria portfolio, the Grand Wailea oozes elegance. . . and has a price tag to match.  Including all taxes and fees, the cash price for our room was 480.90/night.  Our cost after employing value tactics?  $31.25/night!  Before I get to the full cost breakdown, here’s the review:

Grand Wailea Resort Overview

Coming directly from our 4 night stay at Hyatt’s Andaz Maui, we were shocked at the size of the Grand Wailea.  The resort boasts 847 guest rooms, 5 dining options, a swim-up grotto bar, a large spa and fitness center, an on-site wedding chapel, several shops and art galleries, a full service beach club, cabanas for rent, and a huge pool complex featuring water slides, a lazy river, a sand bottom zero-entry pool, Tarzan swing, SCUBA dive pool, a water elevator, an adults-only pool, and several hot tubs.

Add to all that countless koi ponds, waterfalls, lush tropical gardens and landscaping, huge open air atriums, scattered statues and other artwork, a large beach, and on-site Luau area. . . this place is IMPRESSIVE.  If you’re ever in Wailea, it’s worth a drive around the valet loop just to get a small visual taste of the Grand Wailea’s grounds and architecture.  If you don’t happen to be in Wailea right now,  you’ll have to settle for a few of my photos:
Grand Wailea Chapel

Grand Wailea Botero Bar

Grand Wailea Grounds

Grand Wailea Dolphin Pool

Grand Wailea Restaurant

It’s hard to believe a 2-night stay at a property like this is attainable for $62.50 and a single credit card sign-up bonus!

Around 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon, the front desk was a zoo.  At check-in Nicoleen’s Hilton Gold status was recognized and we were given 1000 bonus points, a $20 gift certificate for Bistro Molokini, and 2 drink vouchers for the Botero Lounge.

The bellman then escorted us and our luggage to our room on the 6th floor in the Molokini Wing, far, far away from the lobby.  He gave us a brief tour of the room and left to fetch a microwave at Nicoleen’s request.

The Room

Since we booked our 2 night stay with Hilton free weekend night certificates, we got the cheapest room category on the property, the “terrace view king.”  Of course this was code for “parking garage view.”

We knew this going in and expected the worst.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the beauty of Hawaii trumps the frugally devised room placement of hotel developers.  Even the worst views on Maui are beautiful:

Ignore the foreground and what do you see? The gentle slope of Haleakala on the left and the Pacific ocean on the right.

Ignore the foreground and what do you see? The gentle slope of Haleakala on the left and the Pacific ocean on the right.

In contrast to our room at the Andaz, this one was more about traditional luxury.  The king bed was very comfortable, with a custom embroidered Waldorf Astoria duvet cover and an ample pillow supply.  There was a writing desk with regular and usb charging outlets.
Grand Wailea bed

Grand Wailea room desk

I got to replenish my supply of my favorite hotel pens! The Grand Wailea had the same pens in the room as the Amsterdam Hilton. My kids took care of that one for me by taking it apart and smashing it 🙁


Hidden, flip-down power centers on either side of the bed contained regular and usb charging outlets, which we found to be a nice added convenience.

The bathroom was marble and granite, featuring a separate shower and tub, toilet closet, and a large vanity.  Nicoleen appreciated the large vanity after the cramped situation in the Andaz bathroom.
Grand Wailea bathroom 1
Grand Wailea bathroom 2

Then lanai (balcony) was small but the furniture was comfortable.

Unlike the Andaz, the Grand Wailea has mini-fridges in every room.  Above the fridge was a Keurig with a selection of coffee and tea.

Grand Wailea Keurig

This counter top was later cluttered with a microwave and all of our foodstuffs.


Grand Wailea swimming pool complex

Grand Wailea Pools
The swimming pool area at the Grand Wailea is EXTENSIVE.  After 2 days of using the pools, we were still getting lost trying to get from one place to another.  All of the water features are woven into the garden landscaping.  The Grotto Bar, the beach & pool shop, Bistro Molokini (restaurant), and the Volcano Bar are all integrated into the pool area as well.  It’s truly an impressive attraction and is about as close as you can get to a water park experience without actually going to a water park.
from maps.google.com
Each day, registered guests need to check in at a pool desk to get the day’s wrist band, which is a different color every day.  We saw some lucky kids wearing 6-7 different colored wristbands all at once.  We only used the pools for 2 days but I wanted to be cool too, so I kept mine on all the way back to Minnesota 🙂  Towels and complimentary sunscreen were also available at the pool desks.

Understandably the pool area was pretty crowded most of the time.  However, despite what we read online, it wasn’t hard to get a chair or umbrella as long as we got out there reasonably early (8:30 and 90% of the chairs around the Hibiscus Pool were still available).
Grand Wailea Hibiscus Pool
With the number of pool features at the Grand Wailea, the easiest way to review them all is to list each one and offer some thoughts on each:

  • Hibiscus pool:  This large adults-only pool is made up entirely of 1″ mosaic tiles, with a 630,000 tile hibiscus flower design on the bottom.  Although some of the adults were acting like children when we were there, it was our go-to area to get chairs and was the most relaxing and quiet spot in the whole pool complex.
    Grand Wailea - Hibiscus Pool
  • Grotto Bar:  (covered in the “Dining” section below)
  • Lazy River:  This river doesn’t make a complete circuit.  It starts at the bottom of several cascading pools connected with tiny slides.  The first slide on the lazy river portion is wide enough for a tube.  The current moves you along the river, with chances to exit at all of the other major pool features.  We bought a cheap tube ($8) from the beach/pool shop and floated down the river one time.  If our stay would have been longer we would have probably utilized it more.  And in case you’re wondering, it’s perfectly fine to bring drinks with you down the river.
  • Water Elevator:  Supposedly this is pretty cool but after asking the attendant about it, we later returned to find it had just closed for the day.
  • Water Slides:  A quick search online will inform you that the largest and fastest slide recently closed permanently.  The other slides are apparently fun as well, but when we went to use them on our last afternoon at the Grand Wailea, they had just closed for the day.
  • Baby beach pool:  This is a zero-entry pool with a sand beach.  We saw it as we floated by on the lazy river.  It looked like the tiny kids were enjoying it.
  • Tarzan rope swing:  We didn’t try this but it was getting some pretty good use from lots of screaming, excited kids, so I assume they liked it.
  • SCUBA dive pool:  We didn’t use this pool but we thought it was pretty cool that there are mosaic tile fish and coral reef adorning it’s walls and floor.

Overall the swimming pool complex at the Grand Wailea was very fun, and we thought it had more potential we weren’t able to tap into during our short stay.  However, we have a few complaints.  The odd hours of the different pool features surprised us and prevented us from even trying out several of them.  A closer look at the resort’s website reveals the actual hours:

Pools: 7am – 10pm
Slides: 10am – 5pm
Water Elevator: 11am – 4pm

Even the Grotto Bar closes at 5:00 PM, being connected to the pool system.  The “normal” swimming pools close at 10:00 PM, which is standard for most hotels but nonetheless annoying.  With over a thousand guests, I’m sure at least a handful of adults would enjoy some late night relaxation in the hot tubs or Hibiscus pool.

Haleakala from Grand Wailea night

Haleakala at night from our balcony at the Grand Wailea

The last complaint about the swimming pool complex might be considered a nitpick, but many other reviewers have noticed it as well.  A lot of tiles were missing from all pool areas, the painted coating was worn down to concrete on some of the slides, and some of the concrete along the pool edges was crumbling.  This is to be expected for a resort of this age, but it did slightly detract from the experience.

Beach and Other Amenities

In contrast to our previous nights’ stay at the Hyatt Andaz, it was hard to figure out what was included with our $30 resort fee (waived for us since we used free night certificates) at the Grand Wailea.  The website says it’s good for free internet (which we got through Nicoleen’s gold status anyway), beach umbrellas for use on Wailea Beach, admission to twice daily SCUBA clinics, bike rentals, and free local phone calls (what year is this?).  We didn’t use the bike rental or SCUBA lessons.  The beach in front of the hotel is actually a public beach, so the umbrella perk was probably worthwhile for some people.  (NOTE: being a public beach means alcoholic beverages are technically not allowed.)
Grand Wailea Beach
The beach itself was much like the rest of the beaches in the area: spotless, calm in the morning and rougher in the afternoon, almost purely sand, and warm.

The on-property shops reminded us of the “impulse buy alleys” that you find on some cruise ship piers in the Caribbean.  However, unlike these duty free circuses, the Shops at Grand Wailea weren’t staffed by pushy salesmen.  There are several art shops/galleries, clothing and swimwear stores, and souvenir shops.  If we had the budget and the kid-free house (seems like those two things might go together) for fine art, we would have loved to buy one of the awesome glass framed photographic prints we saw, or one of the crashing wave glass sculptures.  I’m sure we would have been shocked by the prices on these pieces so we didn’t even check, but they were lovely to look at!

We were flying out the evening after our last night at the Grand Wailea, which meant we had an entire day to fill after checking out.  We had no luck trying for a late check-out, but we were offered the continued use of the pool and grounds until we departed.  Living out of a beach bag for most of the day is inconvenient but the front desk person made it easier by offering us the use of an hospitality room.  We just had to notify the front desk when we were done swimming for the day and they gave us a key and told us to try and keep it under an hour.  We were able to take showers, get changed, and repack our carry-ons.  The hospitality room available for us was a suite in Napua Tower:

Grand Wailea Suite

Our room for an hour. This Napua Nani Suite can be yours for a mere $2220 per night!

Neither Nicoleen nor I used the fitness center or the spa, so I can’t comment on these.


Of the multiple restaurants and bars available at the Grand Wailea, two were under construction during our stay.  Humuhumunukunukuapua’a was being relocated and the Volcano Bar was being renovated.  Humuhumunukunukuapua’a had plastic sheeting in the windows and the pool surrounding the restaurant had been drained.  The whole thing was an eyesore.  The Volcano Bar was getting boarded up while we watched the Sunday night NFL game from the nearby Grotto Bar.  They set up a temporary replacement bar with a limited selection of menu items in tents near one of the pools.  I guess there’s no good time to remodel a bustling resort, and yet it has to be done; but it’s still annoying when it happens to fall on the dates of your stay.

Bistro Molokini

Our first evening at the Grand Wailea we decided to use our $20 voucher at Bistro Molokini.  We made reservations for 8:40 and were promptly seated at an outer table overlooking the swimming pool area.  We ordered the onion ring appetizer and a kalua pork flat bread pizza.  The food was excellent!  The onion rings were very possibly the best I’ve ever had.

Bistro Molokini Onion Rings

Everyone loves having their picture taken while taking a bite of food, right?

The service however, was abysmal.  Our server never spoke to us from the time we ordered until she came to ask if we wanted dessert.  She helped adjacent tables several times and totally ignored us.  My beer glass was empty for the majority of the meal.  On top of it all, she was rude and unfriendly.  I’m a classic passive Midwesterner when it comes to things like this so I very rarely complain about restaurant service.  But this was really bad.  The manager must have overheard us talking about the server and offered us free dessert or another round of beers for our trouble.  We accepted the free beer.  (ValueTactics pro-tip: free beer is rare in the U.S. – take advantage of it when you can!)
Bistro Molokini - Grand Wailea
Aside from the bad service the place was also extremely loud, with groups of individuals standing by the bar emitting almost non-stop, boisterous, cackling laughter.  It’s probably not fair to judge and entire restaurant based on what was very likely just one employee’s bad day.  On the other hand, Bistro Molokini had one chance to make an impression on us and it was generally negative, so that’s the review I have to give it.  The only aspects that saved our dining experience from being a total disaster were the great food and lovely scenery.
Bistro Molokini view

Grotto Bar

After a valet driver called the Grotto Bar for us and confirmed that the Packers-Vikings game would be on the TVs, we decided this is where we would park ourselves for the Sunday evening (early afternoon in Hawaii) NFL game.  Nicoleen managed to find one open seat at the end of the bar right before the game started.  I joined her and we promptly staked a claim on the bar for Packer Nation:

Packer Nation at Grand Wailea Grotto Bar

(Just don’t ask how the game ended . . .)

Grand Wailea Grotto BarThe grotto was packed.  The lone bartender, Tim, was shuttling out $13 cocktails at an incredible rate.  We weren’t there for cocktails, however; a Packers-Vikings game requires beer.  Unfortunately for us, the draft beers all ran dry shortly after we arrived.  Even several of the bottled beer choices were eventually exhausted.  Apparently the Grotto Bar is a “while supplies last” kind of operation.  We were able to supplement our beverage needs with our own drinks brought from our beach bag.  I think this is acceptable as long as we periodically ordered food or drink from the bar.  Maybe the fact that the entire bar had one beer choice available (Corona cans) helped to soften their outside food and beverage policy.  Or maybe it’s always like that- I don’t know.

We ordered shredded pork nachos ($17) which was more than enough food to keep us full for the whole game.  They were filling, but otherwise unremarkable.

gw-nicoleen-packersSpeaking of the “whole game” here’s where our major complaint about the Grotto Bar comes in.  All three TVs had the same football game on.  The place was raking in many hundreds of dollars per hour with just the one bartender.  And yet, around the end of the 3rd quarter, we noticed that the water was being drained from the seating area.  Shortly after noticing this, Tim was taking requests for last call.  The Grotto Bar closes at 5:00 PM!  Even with one quarter left of a major sports game on the TV, there was no stopping the closing time.  We were shocked.  We had to make the 10 minute trek to our room to watch the end of the game.

Like the other swimming pool features, the Grotto Bar has a bizarrely early closing time.  Well, it was fun (and expensive) while it lasted.  (Props to bartender Tim for staying upbeat and super friendly despite the beer shortage and the angry mob of football fans having their game viewing cut short!)

Cost and Value

This is the fun part 🙂  At the time of booking (9 months in advance) the best available rate for our room was $326.80/night.  With the $30 resort fee, the $30 valet fee, and all taxes, the total would have been $435.93/night.  We used free weekend night certificates for our two nights at the Grand Wailea, earned as the sign-up bonus on Nicoleen’s Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card.  The free night certificates cover the resort fee so our only cost was the valet fee plus tax.  In total we got an $871.86 stay for $62.50!

Even if you want to include the $95 up-front annual fee on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card as part of our cost, it’s still extreme value!  When calculating the value of the annual fee, don’t forget the value of the perks that the gold status got us during our stay: free internet, the $20 restaurant voucher, the 2 drink coupons, and the 1000 bonus points (worth about $3).

Overall Thoughts and Tips for Your Stay

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the Grand Wailea.  It definitely has a different feel than our previous hotel on the trip, the Hyatt Andaz.  (In the near future I would like to write an entire blog post comparing the two.)  It took us some time to adjust to the sheer size and scope of the place.  There is a bit of a learning curve to getting your full enjoyment out of this resort.  That’s not meant in a negative way; only to highlight the amount of opportunities the Grand Wailea has to offer.

The intuitive layout and elegant appointments of the guest room were definitely a highlight for us.  Despite the disappointing hours of operation we repeatedly encountered at the pool complex, this watery wonderland was also a major favorite of ours.  If we were infatuated with the design and landscaping of the swimming pool area, I can only imagine what the younger guests though of it.  I think my 10 year old self would have been in heaven at this place!

If you have an upcoming stay at the Grand Wailea, here are some random tips Nicoleen and I came up with, based on our stay:

  • Learn the hours of operation for the pool area features early, and incorporate this knowledge into your daily schedule.
  • Plan ahead when you leave your room; many of them require quite a long walk to get to the restaurants, pools, and beach.
  • If you’re in the Molokini Wing, bring your car to the north valet.  It will make a shorter walk for you and a shorter car retrieval for the valet drivers.
  • Don’t be shy about bringing your own beverages and snacks with you to the pool complex.  The nice attendant at the Hibiscus pool even got ice for us to mix our own drinks several times.  You can even sip your libations while on the lazy river.
  • Most basic rooms don’t include a microwave; request one early if you want one brought up for you.
  • If you can’t get a late check-out, take advantage of the hospitality room to extend your stay.

🙂 Thanks for reading my review! 🙂

Hotel Review – Andaz Maui at Wailea

Andaz Maui Panorama
Our stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea was definitely one of the highlights of our recent Hawai’ian get-away.  The property is beyond beautiful, the beach is top notch, and the service and little extras made the whole stay seem extra-special.  The staff made us feel like VIPs, which I guess is to be expected for the $439/night price tag.  But this is ValueTactics you’re reading, so we paid $26.25/night!  More on that in a bit . . .

Andaz Maui Resort Overview

The Andaz Maui is a new resort, only 3 years old at the time of this writing.  Andaz hotels are part of Hyatt’s portfolio and are branded as chic, luxury boutique hotels.  The property has 297 rooms and suites, several condos and for-sale villas, 5 swimming pools, multiple dining options, a full service spa, and a full service beach club.  Our 4 night stay wasn’t even close to enough time to see and do all this resort has to offer.

Even if we would have had the time (and money) for a larger variety of on-site activities, the resort would have provided enough of a distraction all by itself.  In fact, I spent a good deal of my time just walking around in awe, taking pictures of the grounds:
Andaz Maui infinity pool edge
maui andaz grounds 3
maui andaz grounds 4
The Andaz Maui is rife with native stone and wood.  Like a forest on a foggy day or a scenic mountain vista, the Maui Andaz makes everyone feel like a professional photographer.  Everywhere you turn it looks like a postcard.  Even the elevator waiting areas and the lobby looked awesome:
Andaz Maui Elevator

Andaz Maui lobby

View toward the front entrance from the main lobby, where you can find the front desk, concierge, and zen garden.

The Room

Since we booked our stay with free night certificates from our Chase Hyatt cards, we were put in the cheapest room category, a “garden view king”. (For details about how we booked the room, read the trip’s main page and cost breakdown.) We stayed in room 127, which is on the ground floor, facing the pool area, in the Makai wing . The lobby is on the 4th floor so the first trip to the room felt like we were going down to the sub-basement. The whole resort is built on a hill, so what felt like a basement room turned out to be a convenient walk-out right by the pool area! I’m sure the lack of an ocean view is what puts these rooms in the lowest category, but Nicoleen and I both agreed we would take the convenience of the walk-out over the better view any day. Any besides, the view from our lanai (patio) was actually quite nice:
Andaz Maui Lanai
The room is equipped with a large flat screen TV with a fully adjustable mounting arm. The TV inputs are located in the snack cabinet next to it. I wish I would have brought an HDMI cable so we could have watched streaming TV and movies from my laptop.
Andaz Maui Room TV
The microwave and the fridge had to be requested from the front desk (via the bellman) and were subject to availability. If these hadn’t been available, we were going to consider buying one of each from Walmart and then leaving them in the room upon our departure. (I think this is where the hotel’s collection of random microwaves and mini-fridges comes from in the first place.) With a breakfast buffet price of $50 per person, it doesn’t take much math to figure out that even a few meals prepared in the room would be worth the cost of the appliances. Restaurant leftovers could also be kept this way. Luckily they were available so we didn’t have to do the Walmart appliance tactic.

Andaz Maui CoolerAlthough the room didn’t have a real fridge, there was a cooler cabinet built into the desk with complimentary Hawaiian pop (yes, it’s called “pop” -deal with it), juice, and gas station-type coffee creamers, which were replenished daily.
Andaz Maui Snacks

The complimentary Maui cookies, chips, and Starbucks instant coffee were also replenished daily. In the lobby brewed Kona coffee was available every morning. If you’re a late sleeper beware though; that coffee is only available until 9:00. I missed the cutoff one morning and had to settle for the instant Starbucks.

Some other reviews I have read complained about the weird layout of the bathroom. The long, narrow shower is between the vanity area and the bedroom, with a full height glass wall looking right into the bedroom. Sliding shutter doors can be closed from the bedroom side for privacy. The vanity top is fairly small, considering the wooden slat construction which isn’t very good for setting small items on. The toilet is in a separate closet room.
Andaz Maui Bathroom
I am a sucker for design and aesthetics. I can easily forgive the weirdness and the slight inconveniences of the bathroom for the sake of appearance.
Andaz Maui soap
Maui Andaz soap 2

Andaz Maui amenity kit

The surprise little amenity kit we discovered on the vanity.


Swimming pools

The cascading infinity pools at Andaz Maui
It’s no secret that Hyatt loves to highlight the cascading infinity pools at the Andaz Maui, and for good reason.  These are easily the most interesting and unique pools at any hotel I’ve stayed at.  And they are more than just architectural art.  With a shallow depth and lots of nearby pool chairs they are perfect for wading around, swimming leisurely laps, or leaning on the infinity edge to watch the lovely Maui sunsets.  We spent many hours just hanging out by the pools on our first couple days.  Of course part of the convenience for us came from our ground floor room.  Our drink refills, sunscreen, and e-book readers were a quick 10 second walk away.
maui andaz pool 1
The hot tub and surrounding pool are open 24 hours, which is a feature I would have appreciated on many hotel stays elsewhere.  There is a separate pool with half submerged lounge chairs that is for adults only.  During our stay the “adults only” was pretty much a joke since we saw 3 kids, all infants or toddlers, the entire time.  The bottom pool is zero entry, which is a nice feature, frequently enjoyed by those 3 toddlers and their moms.

Andaz Maui zero entry pool

Zero-entry pool

The towel stations were well stocked and also had complimentary sunscreen and infused water available.  Pool attendants put seat covers on our pool chairs upon request.  We never had a problem finding open chairs by the pool.  However the hotel was not fully booked during our stay and we usually went out to the pool before most other guests, so take that for what it’s worth.

Beach and Water Activities

Wailea Beach in front of Andaz
Wailea Beach is supposedly rated one of the best in the world.  From my somewhat limited experience, the high rating is definitely justified.  The water was warm, clear, and the beach was 100% soft sand with absolutely no washed up plant matter.  (And that’s saying something, considering we were there a week after a passing hurricane caused some rain and wind.)  Great snorkeling reefs are scattered around the resort area, all accessible from shore.  The beach in front of the Andaz is sandwiched between two such reefs.  The surf was calm to start the day but as the day wore on it got up a bit, enough to do some body surfing by the afternoon, but never too wild to casually swim just out from the breaking waves.

The $40/night resort fee at the Andaz Maui (covered for us since we booked with free night certificates) includes most of the offered rentals and beach activities.

One morning we went on the outrigger canoe trip.  It’s a 30 minute tour with a guide.  (When you turn in your paddles to the rental hut, there is a chance to charge the guide’s tip to your sign-out slip.)  We went a short way down the shore, past some neighboring properties.  The guide pointed out some good snorkeling spots, talked about the other visible islands, and gave us a run down on what sea life we were likely to see at the current time of year.  We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle- something on my bucket list for the trip.  He was hanging out on the surface just ahead of us when the guide pointed him out.  He then swam down and surfaced between the outrigger and my spot on the canoe, 2 feet away from me!  He looked right at me and waved “hi” one time before diving down again.

We also took advantage of the snorkel gear and boogie board rental.  The apparently world class snorkeling, however, was ruined by murky waters caused by recent torrential rains.  Some people we talked to reported better luck snorkeling with a paid, off-shore excursion.  We considered one of those tours but never got around to it.

This doctored photo shows how crummy the water conditions were for snorkeling. We did see a lot of colorful fish, but we'll have to wait til next time for the whole experience!

This doctored photo shows how crummy the water conditions were for snorkeling. We did see a lot of colorful fish, but we’ll have to wait til next time for the whole experience!

Other Amenities

Another benefit included in the resort fee is complementary GoPro camera rentals, available at the concierge desk.  GoPros are available from 6:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night, and are first come, first served.  The camera came with a waterproof case, which was the main reason we wanted it.  The photos above of our snorkeling attempt were taken on the GoPro.  We also took it to nearby Makena Beach, more commonly known as “Big Beach.”  The surf was much bigger here than at the hotel, and we got some pretty cool pictures with the GoPro.
Makena "Big Beach" wave

The concierge gave us a map and some tips for our trip to watch the sunrise on Haleakala.  If you want to call it an amenity, we also used the [mandatory] valet parking.  Getting our car was usually pretty fast, under 5 minutes.  The only time it was a bit longer (10-15 minutes) was when we left around 4:30 PM for dinner one afternoon.  The valet drivers were courteous and always offered to put our convertible top up or down for us, depending on whether we were picking up or dropping off.  One thing to note is that calling ahead to say that we were coming for our car seemed to do absolutely nothing to reduce the wait time.  The valet fee is $25 per night and there is no self-parking option at the hotel.  This was the only expense not covered by the free night certificates!

There is a 24 hour convenience store connected to the lobby, but most prices are even higher than you would imagine.  Nicoleen went there to look for sunglasses after she lost hers and the selection was mostly Maui Jim brand, most with a $250+ price tag.  On someone else’s review I saw a photo of a $24 six pack of Bud Light cans in this store.

Neither of us used the fitness center or the spa, so I can’t comment on them.


After a quick glance at the menu prices on the Andaz Maui website before our trip, we realized we wouldn’t be doing a lot of on-site dining.  The breakfast is $50/person, cocktails are $17, and appetizers are in the $15-30 range.  Needless to say, a dinner for two would easily be over $125 . . . and that would be on the cheap end.

We never ate a sit-down meal at any of the on-site dining choices, but we did order a poolside snack one day.  Menus from Bumbye Beach Bar (located by the zero entry pool) were brought around daily to sun worshipers by the pool.  Nicoleen had her heart set on the waffle fries she had seen (and smelled) others eating.  And I ordered a Pimm’s Rangoon; that 10 second walk to the room to get a drink refresh was looking pretty arduous at the time 😉  The cocktail was good but unremarkable.  Same goes for the fries.  With tip the damage was $30.  We figured it was OK to splurge a tiny bit considering we were staying at one of Hawaii’s nicest resorts for nearly free!

Cost and Value

At the time of booking (over 9 months in advance) the published rate for the room we stayed in was $439 a night.  With the $40 resort fee, $25 valet fee, and all taxes that total ends up at $539.56 per night.  This trip was part of our Hawaiian get-away, a trip designed from the start to get extreme value out of a few strategically acquired new credit cards.  Nicoleen and I each got Chase Hyatt cards last fall.  Each card comes with a sign-up bonus of 2 free night certificates, good for the standard room type at any Hyatt property in the world.
hyatt approved 3
Between the 4 free night certificates we earned from these two cards, we got $2,158.24 in value!  All we had to pay was the nightly valet fee, which totaled $106.40.  I’d call that extreme value!

Free nights with Hyatt Gold Passport points are 25,000 per night*.  Hyatt Gold Passport points can be earned with paid stays at Hyatt properties, with regular spending on the Chase Hyatt card, or by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

* Recently some Hyatt properties have been playing games with their reward night availability.  It may be difficult to find available reward stay (points or certificates) nights at the Andaz Maui.  The Park Hyatt on Maui is also reportedly extremely nice and has widespread calendar availability for reward stays.  See this Flyertalk post for more info.

Overall Thoughts and Tips for Your Stay

From the pictures posted here and elsewhere, I think you can see why everyone agrees the Andaz Maui at Wailea is an amazing property.  Some reviews I have read complained about unfriendly service by hotel staff.  We didn’t find this to be the case at all; in our experience everyone was friendly and courteous.  It seemed like they genuinely cared about guest experiences.  One night our air conditioning refused to stay on longer than 10 seconds.  It was 1:30 in the morning and a technician was there to fix it within 5 minutes of our complaint.  That episode was indicative of our general experience with the staff.

Other reviews I have read mention that the hotel is not kid friendly.  I didn’t see anything that would have been kid unfriendly.  However I do agree there is no particular draws for kids there.  A lot of the beauty of the property and the quality of the service and amenities would be lost on little kids.
andaz maui pools at ni
The Andaz Maui definitely markets to a certain demographic, and they cater to that demographic.  We estimated the average age of guests was 28 (with a low standard deviation).  Many were on their honeymoon.  Of the 50 or so people we interacted with, only 4 were from the country’s interior.  All the rest were from the East or West Coast.  Of course most of the population is from the coasts, but I think it may indicate Hyatt’s success in attracting young, affluent professionals to this hotel.

If you have an upcoming stay at the Andaz Maui, here are some random tips Nicoleen and I came up with, based on our stay:

  • Don’t miss the coffee!  The lobby coffee is available from 6:00 to 9:00 and then it’s gone.
  • Ask for a room with walk-out access.  The better view on higher floors isn’t worth the convenience of easy access to the pool area.
  • Get your GoPro rental early; the first time we tried to get one they were all out the whole day.  The same goes for any scheduled beach activity like the outrigger tour.  The outrigger tour takes reservations and the list is sometimes days out.
  • Don’t sweat the mandatory valet.  I wasn’t looking forward to the extra step every time we wanted to leave the property.  It seriously wasn’t a hassle at all.
  • If you want a microwave and/or mini-fridge, request it as soon as possible; they are subject to availability.  We called the morning of our check-in and the microwave was waiting in our room.
  • Plan on snorkeling as early in the day as possible.  When the surf rises later in the day, swimming around the shallow reefs can get dangerous.  We met one couple with bloody legs who were smashed against the rocks while snorkeling in the early afternoon right in front of the hotel.
  • Skip the $17 cocktails if you want.  You’re not missing much; at least not $17 worth!
  • Resorts on Maui seem to really roll up the streets at night.  If you’re looking for lively socialization at night, the hot tub on the 3rd tier pool deck is your best bet.

🙂 Thanks for reading my review! 🙂


Maui Vacation Field Report #2

Maui Vacation
Aloha from day 6 of our Maui vacation!  I’m writing this post on my phone on the Kahului Highway. We’re headed to the Hana Highway, although we don’t plan on driving all the way to Hana.  Because of the hotel switch we started the journey a bit late to do the whole trip to Hana and back.  We’ll see some of the sights along the way and then turn around.

Hotel Switch

Today we said goodbye to the Andaz and moved our stuff to the Grand Wailea.  The Andaz was amazing so it was sad to leave, but our room at the Grand Wailea is also super nice:


Since the last field report the weather has improved greatly!  Even the rainy day we had was not bad at all; we just hung out on the lanai and in the pools/hot tub.  The rain on the south/west coast was forecast to continue through Friday but we haven’t been rained on since Thursday.  It’s been sunny and hot for the most part.  Today it’s cloudy but still hot and humid.

Well, we just pulled into a parking spot in Pa’ia town.  We’re going for a late lunch at Pa’ia Fish Market.

As always, look for frequently updated photos at the ValueTactics Facebook pageAloha!

Maui Vacation Field Report #1

Aloha from paradise!  It’s day 4 of our Maui vacation and I know many of you have been checking out our photo uploads on Facebook.  But for the non-fb crowd I figured I would do a quick update on the blog here.

Where we are now

We spent the first night at a hotel near the airport.  We are now halfway through our 4 night stay at the Maui Andaz in Wailea.  The room and grounds couldn’t be any more beautiful!  The service has also been very friendly and helpful.  Of course it’s even sweeter knowing that the $30 daily valet fee is all we’re paying for our stay here!  (More on that later, in the full trip report.)

Maui Vacation - Andaz at Wailea


We’re on the dry side of the island.  The weather usually comes from the northeast and drops its rain on the mountainside.  There’s no moisture left when the air gets over the hill, meaning sunny skies most of the time for the south and west sides.  Rain showers are frequent but rarely last longer than an hour.

. . . Except for this week.  Maui and most other Hawaiian islands have had an unusual amount of rain the last few days.  Yesterday it rained most of the day here, which is very unusual based on what everyone has been saying.

Despite the weather, we’re having a great time!  When it rains, the smart people all pile into the hot tub.  In fact, I’ve already had some good points and miles discussions with some fellow enthusiasts in that hot tub.  Great minds think alike!

Today is looking a bit sunnier.  Nicoleen is already out by the pool, sipping orange juice.  I’m not going to keep her waiting any longer.

So long for now!  Aloha!