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Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort [In-depth Review]

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Chris Hassan

Chris Hassan

Social Media & Marketing Manager

Countries Visited: 21U.S. States Visited: 24

Chris holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management and managed social media for all Marriott properties in South America, making him a perfect fit for UP and its social media channels. He has a ...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury

Keri Stooksbury


Countries Visited: 39U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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As part of a bucket-list family trip to Hawaii to kick off 2022, I found myself constantly checking hotel award availability across all of the islands to put together the best trip I could using (mostly) points and miles. This was harder said than done. In case you haven’t heard, Hawaii is pretty popular right now!

After securing 5 nights at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, I moved my searches away from Maui and on to Oahu. But, as one does, I would occasionally peek back at Maui award availability, because it had become part of my daily routine. Plus, I was curious if last-minute availability would open up in January.

Lo and behold, after I booked our flights to Honolulu, 2 back-to-back standard room nights opened up at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Maui. That meant I could get an excellent redemption at a gorgeous Maui resort using my Hilton Honors points. Score!

After rebooking our Hawaiian Airlines flights, I was excited to extend our stay in Maui and check out a hotel that I have been wanting to visit for years.

Perhaps I was a bit too excited, spoiled from our stay at the Hyatt Regency on the other side of the island, or my expectations were just too high, but I left relatively disappointed after a quick 2-night stay at the Grand Wailea.

Let’s take a look at this popular resort, what could have gone better during my stay, and what you can expect on your next trip.

Hotel Location

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort road sign.

The 776-room Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is located on 40-acres of stunning beachfront property in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii.

This part of the island is less touristy than Lahaina, where we were staying previously. It had a very residential feel to it as we were arriving by car. That said, it’s surrounded by other resorts along the coast, but that’s not so obvious from the road.

The resort is located about 17 miles from Kahului Airport (OGG), which should take about 35 minutes with light traffic. Since we were coming from the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina, it was a 32-mile drive and took us just under an hour.


Grand Wailea award redemption. Image Credit: Hilton

If you aren’t familiar, the Waldorf Astoria brand is a group of luxury hotels that is part of the Hilton family.

Despite Hilton not using fixed categories for its hotels, most luxury properties have a capped price of 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night for a standard room. That was still true during my visit in January 2022. However, in March 2022, Hilton jacked up the minimum price (see: devaluation) of this and other top-tier luxury hotels without notice.

Now it will cost at least 110,000 Hilton Honors points per night to visit this property. If you have a free night reward, this would be an excellent redemption — especially now that the minimum redemption rate has increased.

Hilton Honors Points

The Grand Wailea is a top-tier property in the Hilton portfolio and the prices reflect that.

Hilton Honors points can get a little crazy as points value is somewhat tied to the cash price of a hotel. Although standard rooms have a capped price, higher room categories can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of points per night!

Finding 2 nights at 95,000 points per night was a steal! 

Here is a look at what other reward night options looked like:

  • Terrace View, 2 Queen Beds — 95,000 points (what I booked)
  • Garden View, 1 King Bed — 564,000 points
  • Ocean View Room, 1 King Bed — 596,000 points
  • Deluxe Ocean View, 1 King Bed — 613,000 points
  • Ocean View, 2 Queen Beds — 617,000 points
  • Deluxe Ocean View, 2 Queen Beds — 634,000 points
  • Alii Suite, 1 King Bed — 970,000 points
  • Wailea Suite, 1 King Bed — 1,205,000 points

As you can see, award rates can get a little out of hand if you can’t score a standard room.

Cash rates started at around $1,100 per night (plus tax and resort fee) for a Terrace View room, so I got over 1 cent per point in value, which is more than double our latest point valuation. And since I paid with points, the $45 resort fee was waived.

For incidentals, I used my Hilton Aspire card. Even if I were paying cash I would use my Hilton Aspire card because it earns 14x points at Hilton properties, plus, this hotel stay triggered the $250 annual resort statement credit.

Checking In

The Grand Wailea is located in the town of Wailea, which is a much quieter area compared to the resort-heavy Lahaina.

After driving past some gorgeous homes, hotels, golf courses, and a small shopping area, we made our way to the entrance of the Grand Wailea.

I pulled the car down the long driveway surrounded by lush greenery until we got to the porte-cochère.

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort valet parking.

Since there was some construction going on (red flag #1), the garage was not available for self-parking, only valet parking for $65 per night. Parking is not included on award nights for Diamond members, unlike at Hyatt properties for Globalists.

However, the staff was great and unloaded our car while we went to check-in at the lobby.

Grand Wailea entrance

The entrance to the hotel and lobby is gorgeous with plants and water features on each side. But as we entered the lobby, we were greeted with temporary walls and deafening jackhammering from the very active construction zone.

Grand Wailea construction wall.

I carried on with a smile because after all, we were in Hawaii. And I thought perhaps I had missed a note about the hotel being under renovation. But after confirming, no, there was no advance notice of construction during our stay.

As we made our way to the front desk, we were greeted by an agent with a big smile who welcomed us and presented me and my family with beautiful leis.

Grand Wailea welcome lei.

The check-in process was extremely awkward as the front desk agent had to try and do her job while simultaneously being drowned out by jackhammering just a few feet away.

As a former front desk agent (who has been through a property renovation), I honestly felt bad for her as she had to spend her entire shift there. At least we got to leave.

We mostly just smiled and nodded our heads and she tried to explain the property to us through the noise.

Grand Wailea front desk.

Eventually, a bellman escorted us to our room and gave us a quieter overview of the property on the way.

Elite Benefits

My wife and I are both Hilton Honors Diamond members, but after staying at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa with World of Hyatt Globalist status, the elite benefits at the Grand Wailea paled in comparison.

Coffee, avocado toast, and an açaí bowl at Cafe Kula. Or elite breakfast for 4 people according to Hilton.

As a Hilton Honors Diamond member, there is a long list of perks, but at the Grand Wailea, most didn’t impact our stay.

The Diamond benefits at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria were:

  • Room upgrade upon availability
  • 1,000 Hilton Honors points per stay
  • $25 daily food and beverage credit, up to 2 guests (regardless of the fact that my wife was also a Diamond member)
  • Premium Wi-Fi
  • 2 reuseable water bottles

Fortunately, we were paying with points, otherwise, we would have had to pay the $45 resort fee which included half of those benefits. And since there was no lounge available, that $50 credit did not go far at all.

Room Upgrade

Fortunately, without even asking, we were upgraded to an Ocean View room! Which, when in Hawaii, is always welcome.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room.

Although I booked a Terrace View for 95,000 points per night, we received an Ocean View room (not a suite), which was going for around 600,000 points per night! That isn’t to say that the room was 6x better, but more of a highlight of how silly Hilton’s point system can be.

The room itself was very spacious, though a bit dated, but the balcony and view were really nice.

Since the room was on the ground floor, it didn’t have uninterrupted views of the ocean, but it did look out directly over a cute little koi pond. It turns out we were pretty lucky to have this koi pond because similar ground floor rooms had only grass, which meant much less privacy.

Welcome Amenity

Despite being a Diamond member celebrating my birthday, there was no special welcome amenity — cue the tiny violin!

Resort Fee

For guests not staying on an award night, there was a $45 per day resort fee. That fee has since increased to $50.

Grand Wailea resort fee description.

The resort fee included:

  • 2 refillable PATH water bottles
  • 45-minute photography session
  • Unlimited local and toll-free calls
  • Wireless internet
  • Beach Yoga class
  • SCUBA and snorkel lessons
  • Beach Cruiser bikes
  • Beach umbrella and chairs
  • Hula and ukulele lessons

I have seen less-impressive resort fee lists — this one wasn’t bad. My daughter especially enjoyed the hula and ukelele lessons.

Late Checkout

Late checkout is not a guaranteed benefit for top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond members.

Fortunately, we didn’t need one as we had a morning flight on our final day.

We did, however, enjoy an early check-in.


If you are flying to Hawaii, you are likely looking for some beautiful weather, fun activities, good food, nice beaches, and pools. The Grand Wailea can check all of those boxes.

While far from perfect, my family and I had a blast in the pools and really enjoyed the food — despite the prices.

Grand Wailea resort and pool map.

Let’s take a look at the amenities at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.


The pools at the Grand Wailea were arguably the biggest attraction. Yes, the beach is nice, but you can use the same beach no matter where you are staying.

Technically, there are only 2 pools on the property: the Hibiscus Pool and the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool. However, in reality, the activity pool is broken up into a bunch of smaller sections that made it feel like there were dozens of options.

As parents with 2 young kids, this was our only pool option as the Hibiscus Pool was for adults only.

Hibiscus Pool

The Hibiscus Pool is the most recognizable and Instagramable swimming pool at the Grand Wailea.

Hibiscus Pool at the Grand Wailea.

The centerpiece of the property, the Hibiscus Pool is stunning and has great views of the ocean.

With hot tubs on each side and cabanas nearby, this is an excellent place to relax as it is for adults only.

Hot tub at the Hibiscus Pool at the Grand Wailea.

If you don’t feel like hanging poolside, there is a grass courtyard that is just as peaceful with views of the beach and swaying palm trees.

Hibiscus Pool lawn seating.

Reflection Pool

I chose my words carefully above when I said “swimming pool.” The most Instagramable pool at the Grand Wailea is actually the Reflection Pool.

Grand Wailea Reflection Pool.

An absolutely stunning pool escorts guests from the hotel to the beach and pool areas and I strongly believe that it is physically impossible to pass by without taking a picture — at least in my personal experience.

However, this is only a reflection pool. No swimming is allowed.

Wailea Canyon Activity Pool

On to the fun stuff. While I would have loved to check out the fancy pool, with 2 kids in tow, the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool was more than enough to keep my family busy.

If only it opened earlier… and stayed open later.

One of the many pools at the Grand Wailea.

This part of the resort has pools, water slides, a beach, and a lazy river — which is awesome. But the water slides and lazy river closed at 4 p.m., which felt crazy to me. With those 2 items closed, the water stopped moving and what was once a fun and busy area turned into a weird, slow-moving, tepid pool.

The Grotto Bar, which is really only accessible by taking a series of waterslides from pool to pool (which is awesome by the way), closed promptly at 4 p.m., followed shortly after by the Volcano Bar and Grill in the main pool area.

So after spending a fun day by the pool, it really felt like we were getting kicked out before sunset. The pool hours state 10 p.m., but with the activity desk closed, half of the pool roped off, cleaning crews in full force, lights dimmed, and no food and beverage service available, it did not feel like we were welcome.

We ended up grabbing a pizza from Cafe Kula and hanging at the Baby Beach until the early evening along with other families who were just as confused as we were. There was 1 family that arrived at 7 p.m. straight from the airport and wanted to enjoy the pool but couldn’t find any towels. After 30+ minutes of searching and asking, we offered (and they accepted) some of our used towels… at a Waldorf Astoria.

With so many guests traveling from all over the world, fighting jet lag, and some with kids, not having a decent pool option in the evening was a major fail. This was a far cry from the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa where the pools were open 24 hours per day — and towels were easily accessible.

Ok, rant over, let’s go check out all of the fun parts of this pool — like the water slides with chipped paint to slow you down! Ok, now I’m done.

Water Slides

There are a total of 7 water slides throughout the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool. Two of them are pretty big, while the rest are smaller and are used to connect one pool to another — which is a really fun way to explore the area.

Without a doubt, the 262-foot Lava Tube Slide is the most exciting option as it drops riders down 3 stories (30 feet/9 meters) in 14 seconds and can reach speeds up to 22 miles per hour! I loved this slide, but kids need to be 48 inches or taller to ride.

Lava Tube water slide at the Grand Wailea.

The other water slides were still a lot of fun and were more family-friendly. The kids and I were constantly taking the slides from 1 pool to another as a way to get around.

Grand Wailea upper water slide area.

One of the best uses of the water slides is getting to the Grotto Bar, which is otherwise inaccessible if you don’t want to jump in the water. Riding 4 water slides and then ordering a Mai Tai is now my preferred method of drink delivery.

There was also a Water Elevator, which looked pretty cool, but it was broken. I’m not really sure how it worked, though.

Lazy River

After riding all of the water slides, you’ll eventually be spit out into the lazy river and the main part of the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool.

The lazy river is nice, but there are no floats provided, so people just bob along to get from one part to another. And since it doesn’t really loop around, there is no option to just float and relax. You need to have a destination in mind.

Grand Wailea lazy river.

During the day, we set up our chairs on the edge of the lazy river so we could go for a ride down the slides and then let the water current take us back to our seats.

For the older kids (and maybe a parent or 2), there was a supervised rope swing area. My Tarzan Swing attempt was not documented, my apologies.

Baby Beach

The Baby Beach was a really fun area for families. Located right next to the main Wailea Canyon pool, and steps from the real Wailea Beach, the Baby Beach was the perfect spot for little swimmers.

With chairs, tables, and umbrellas, adults could relax while the little ones splashed away in very shallow water with soft sand underfoot.

Baby Beach at the Grand Wailea.

With a rope separating the Baby Beach from the Lazy River, getting from one to the another was easy enough, but the rope kept the kids from venturing off into deeper water.

When the rest of the pool closed for the day (sigh), this was a nice spot to relax and enjoy the sunset overlooking the ocean behind us.


Throughout the pool areas, both the Wailea Canyon Activity Pool and Hibiscus Pool, there are day beds, cabanas, and premium cabanas for rent.

Cabana at the Grand Wailea.

Day beds start at $250 per day for 2 people with no food and beverage amenities included.

Premium cabanas can cost over $1,500 per day depending on the date, and include:

  • 4 teak lounge chairs with cushions
  • Mini-fridge and locking cabinet
  • Flat-screen TV with DirectTV
  • 4 bottles of water
  • Tropical fruit sampler
  • Hawaiian snack basket
  • Frozen grapes
  • Hawaiian-style popcorn
  • Tropical fruit popsicles

Guests can make cabana reservations online.

Wailea Beach

The Grand Wailea is located right in front of the beautiful and world-famous Wailea Beach.

As all beaches in Hawaii are, Wailea Beach is a public beach, so there is a small pathway between the hotel and the beach that meanders along the coast.

Wailea Beach with the Grand Wailea to the left in the distance.

The beach had soft sand and gentle waves and was as picturesque as you could want.

Beach chairs and umbrellas were available from the hotel and included in the resort fee.

Cultural Activities

Some of the most memorable parts of this family vacation to Hawaii were the cultural lessons we received, mostly at the hotels we stayed at.

Learning about the Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures was something my kids really enjoyed and it helped us appreciate and respect our experiences throughout the islands even more.

My daughter received her Grand Passport that helped teach her about Hawaiian culture.

There was no shortage of cultural activities at the Grand Wailea, but if there is something you want to experience, be sure to sign up early. We were very grateful that the concierge was able to get our daughter into a hula lesson at the last minute.

However, it was a little awkward that the hotel held this hula lesson in the basement near the conference rooms. With such a beautiful property, having hula lessons outside seems like a no-brainer.

If you arent interested in hula lessons, there were plenty of other options including:

  • Coconut weaving
  • Kukui nut bracelet making
  • Lei making
  • Ukulele lessons
  • History and language lessons (Papa ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi)
  • Garden tours and more

Cultural activities can be scheduled online.

Mōhalu by Spa Grande

Located in the main building, Mōhalu by Spa Grande offers guests the chance to be pampered in the treatment rooms or in outdoor cabanas overlooking the lush garden or ocean.

Mohalu by Spa Grande Relaxation Lounge.

With massages, facials, manicures, pedicures (for kids, too!), and even astrology readings, there was plenty to choose from.

Construction has temporarily displaced some of the treatment rooms.

Spa appointments can be made online.

Grand Passport

One really fun (and easy and free) kids’ activity at the Grand Wailea was completing the Grand Passport.

Grand Wailea Grand Passport for kids.

At check-in, both kids were presented with their own passports that, if completed, they could show at check-out to receive a surprise.

In the passport were a map of the property and a scavenger hunt that the kids could participate in at their own speed while learning about the property and history of Hawaii.

Since we only had 2 days, our kids had to work quickly, but eventually were able to complete their passports. They were each rewarded with a beautiful souvenir necklace to bring home.

Fitness Center

The 24-hour fitness center at the Grand Wailea was quite impressive.

Despite some obstacles and blocked entrances due to the ongoing construction, I was able to make my way to the 2,500-square-foot (232 square meters), 2-floor gym.

Grand Wailea construction.

The top floor of the fitness center had a front desk with towels, a water refill station, and a trainer available to answer questions.

Grand Wailea Fitness Center desk.

This was also where I found most of the treadmills and elliptical machines.

Grand Wailea Fitness Center treadmills.

As well as a couple of Peloton bikes.

Grand Wailea Peloton bikes.

If you want some free weights, just head downstairs.

Grand Wailea Fitness Center stairs.

In addition to the free weights, there was a rowing machine as well as some other Technogym equipment.

Grand Wailea free weights.

Overall, the gym was really nice with high-quality equipment. Also, complimentary fitness class registration can be completed online.

Water Bottles

One of the amenities that I really liked across all of the hotels (Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott) we stayed at in Hawaii was the use of reusable water bottles.

Grand Wailea reuseable PATH Water bottles.

Instead of 2 (or no) plastic water bottles in our rooms, we received reusable bottles that could be refilled throughout the property. I really don’t like having to pay for water at hotels, and traveling with kids, filling up bottles and keeping everyone hydrated over the course of a stay can get really expensive. That is an expense you don’t have to stress about here.

The Grand Wailea provides 2 PATH Water refillable bottles, and there are refill stations located throughout the property. These bottles were nice and made of metal, so they held the temperature well.

Grand Wailea water refill station.

Since we travel with our own bottles as well, we filled up the kids’ personal bottles at the stations, too.

Wailea Golf

If you are a golfer, getting on a nice course while in Hawaii is a must-do.

Fortunately, Wailea Golf Club is nearby with 3 award-winning courses that can accommodate a range of skill levels.

Bike Rentals

As part of the resort fee, guests can borrow beach cruiser bikes to explore the area.

Bikes and helmets are available for both kids and adults.

I ended up going on a solo ride to check out the area, riding up the road to the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and then down the public walkway (walking my bike) until I got to The Shops at Wailea and then rode back along the main road.

Retail Shops

When you enter the lobby, to the left is the Haleakala Wing, which is home to a handful of retail shops with a little bit of everything, but mostly clothing like Tommy Bahama and Quicksilver.

Grand Wailea retail shops.

If you need something to complete your resort wear look, you could probably find it here.

Pet Friendly

I was somewhat surprised to see that the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is pet-friendly — and the price wasn’t crazy.

Pets under 50 pounds are welcome for $30 per night. That’s less than half the cost of valet parking!

Service animals are not subject to this fee.

Hot Tip: If you are bringing your pet to Hawaii, it may be subject to animal quarantine

Valet Parking

As I mentioned above, self-parking was not available.

The only parking option was to valet for $65 per night. 

I have paid for expensive parking before, but this one just felt more expensive. I don’t know why!

Business Center

If you need to get some work done while at the Grand Wailea, the Akamai Business Center is available for guests.

Akamai Business Center.

Located at the end of the Haleakala Wing past the retail shops and cafe was a convenient little office to help with printing, copies, and even FedEx and UPS shipping.

Wireless Internet

I know, I know. I was in Hawaii, get off my phone, etc. Well, it’s tough when the Upgraded Points Instagram account is so good. I couldn’t stay away.

Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi at the Grand Wailea couldn’t keep up. It’s a big property, so moving from one area to another meant losing one signal and picking up another. Unless we were in our room, getting a steady wireless internet signal was pretty inconsistent.

Grand Wailea’s terrible internet speed.

Even in the room, I only got 10 Mbps of speed. This is a hotel with big conference rooms and rates that start over $1,000 per night. Wi-Fi should be better.

Meeting and Events

If you are looking to host an event, conference, or a wedding (and only need 10 Mbps of internet), the Grand Wailea is a beautiful option,

With over 34,000 square feet (3,100 square meters) of event space, an on-site chapel, and incredible backdrops, this would be a great place for a party.

Grand Wailea Chapel.

You can find more information about event space online.

The Room

I booked a Terrace View and was very grateful to be upgraded to an Ocean View room overlooking a koi pond, the chapel, and eventually the ocean.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room with shades closed.

I was assigned room 0013, which is on the ground floor towards the end of the Chapel Wing. This location was nice as we could walk around the end of the wing to get to the pool and beach area.

Room 0013 at the Grand Wailea.

The room is listed at a generous 640 square feet (59 square meters), which was great as we had a lot of space — although a lot of it was in the bathroom.

When entering the room, there was a relatively narrow hallway splitting the closets on the left and the bathroom on the right, each with doors that swung into the hallway.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room narrow entryway.

The closet was a decent size with an extra pillow, plenty of hangers, a luggage rack, slippers, and a safe inside.

Grand Wailea guestroom closet.

Past the closet and bathroom, on the right-hand side was a small cabinet with a Keurig coffee maker on top and a minifridge below inside.

Grand Wailea in-room Keurig coffee maker.


The narrow hall opened up into a spacious bedroom area.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room.

The 2 queen beds were very comfortable, but I was happy to leave them behind at checkout.

I smashed my shins on this bed frame more times than I want to admit over our 2-night stay.

Grand Wailea dangerous bed frame.

Plus there was this random gap at the top of the bed. Each night, our pillows would eventually end up falling down. The mattress and pillows were good, but the whole setup was less than perfect.

Why is there a gap here??

However, next to the bed was this great little alarm clock (with 2 USB outlets!) that had an LED display on 3 sides so that both beds could see the time — brilliant!

Grand Wailea bedside alarm clock.

Besides the alarm clock, this was the only other bedside charger.

Grand Wailea beside outlet.

Across from the beds was a 55-inch TV above a set of very big drawers.

Grand Wailea guestroom TV.

There was also a full-sized desk with 2 chairs, an LED lamp, and some outlets.

Grand Wailea guestroom desk.


Probably the best part of the room was the balcony.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room balcony.

Being able to wake up and immediately step outside is a great feeling, especially in Maui.

The balcony had 2 large (old and squeaky) chairs, a footrest, and a wooden table. It was a nice place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine when the kids fell asleep.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room balcony chairs.

But the best part of the balcony was the koi pond.

Sure, the view of the ocean and chapel was stunning, but the koi pond made it feel special and gave an extra level of privacy.

A view of the room from the other side of the koi pond.

Rooms that did not have a pond had grass that ran right up to the balcony, meaning you (or any other guest) could just walk right in.

The pond provided an extra level of peacefulness, plus, the kids loved looking at the fish.

It was like we had some pet fish with us!


At first, the bathroom looked excellent. It’s big, well-lit, and offered privacy. But after using it, it was clear it was old, rundown, and just a terrible use of space.

Grand Wailea Ocean View room bathroom.

The vanity area was huge, but the sink was tiny.

Grand Wailea tiny bathroom sink.

But there was a nice lineup of individual amenities.

Grand Wailea bathroom amenities.

The bathtub took up half of the room, but was too grimy to use, and the shower was full of chipped tiles with nowhere to hang a towel.

The only towel rack or hooks were very far from the shower.

It was nice to have a door to the toilet when sharing a room with 3 people, but you need to contort your body to close the door while inside.

Grand Wailea Ocean View bathroom toilet.

Overall, the bathroom got the job done, but with so much space to work with, I hope this area gets some attention during the renovation.

Food and Beverage

The eating and drinking at the Grand Wailea was quite good, but it can get expensive quickly.

With no lounge or decent elite benefits to speak of, feeding a family here is a good way to meet a minimum spend on a new credit card!

Café Kula

Café Kula is a great little cafe that was open all day.

Cafe Kula at the Grand Wailea.

With options including fresh fruit and pastries, salads and sandwiches, this spot easily had the best variety and prices (relatively speaking) at the Grand Wailea.

Cafe Kula pastries.

This is where we had breakfast each morning. The coffee was good and the avocado toast and açaí bowls were delicious, but our $50 daily credit barely covered that.

Cafe Kula menu.

Snacks and drinks were also available, which was a good option for evenings on the balcony.

Café Kula is open daily from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., and there is an online menu.

Grotto Bar

My favorite spot at the Grand Wailea was the Grotto Bar.

Grotto Bar at the Grand Wailea.

Only accessible while you are in the pool, and best accessed by taking 4 water slides and a mini lazy river — just don’t let the current take you past it!

Tucked inside a cave with waterfalls cascading by, there could be worse places to hang out if you want to avoid the sun.

My only complaint is that it (and the water slides) closed so early.

Grotto Bar is open from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Bistro Molokini

Bistro Molokini is a Mediterranean American casual restaurant located next to the Hibiscus Pool, offering great views of the beach and ocean.

Bistro Molokini at the Grand Wailea.

We visited for dinner 1 night and everyone enjoyed what they ordered.

I ordered the extremely unphotogenic Hanger Steak with kale “Caesar” salad — yes, it was better than it looked.

Bistro Molokini Hanger Steak.

The kids got chicken fingers (shocking).

Bistro Molokini Chicken Fingers.

And then we shared a Peanut Butter Bar, which was essentially a fancy Reece’s peanut butter cup topped with ice cream — highly recommended.

Bistro Molokini Peanut Butter Bar.

The total for 2 adults and 2 kids was $260. Not cheap, and hard to say if it was worth it.

At least the kids each got a stuffed humpback whale as a welcome gift!

Stuffed whale gift from the Bistro Molokini.

Bistro Molokini is open daily from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. for dinner, and there is an online menu.

Wailea Surf Haus

I love a good pool bar, and Wailea Surf Haus (which may also be labeled Volcano Bar and Grill on some maps) was… ok.

The bar itself was small, but the bartenders were great.

The drinks were good but small and expensive.

Last call at Wailea Surf Haus was at 4:45 p.m.

However, lunch service was a nice option to have by the pool. We just scanned a QR code, placed our order, and food was delivered promptly.

Efficient poolside food delivery.

Admittedly, the food was nothing special, but it kept the kids from getting hangry.

Hot dog, chicken fingers, and a burger. Not the healthiest choices we’ve made.

This was another spot by the pool that closed early. Which left guests with no pool service.

Wailea Surf Haus is open daily from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.


If you are looking for a high-end Hawaiian dining experience (apparently), you can find that at Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, or as everyone calls it, Humu Humu.

Humu Humu restaurant at the Grand Wailea.

With fresh seafood and local meat dishes, enjoying a nice meal here with the sun setting over the ocean sounds like a nice time. Unfortunately, that didn’t fit into our schedule for this trip.

Humu Humu is open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. for breakfast, and from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. for dinner. There is an online menu.

Botero Lounge

Botero Lounge is/was a lobby bar, but since the lobby is under construction, it was closed during my stay.

Grand Wailea lobby construction.

Botero Lounge is scheduled to open in May 2022.

Omotenashi Lounge

On the hotel website, Omotenashi Lounge is advertised as Grand Wailea’s Executive Lounge, so I thought that as a Hilton Diamond member, I would have access to this. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Omotenashi Lounge sign.

The Omotenashi Lounge is housed in an authentic Japanese teahouse brought over from Japan.

Access costs $250 per day and includes breakfast and hors d’oeuvres. No thanks.


There is nothing like an authentic lū’au to experience some Hawaiian culture. You can enjoy the interactive entertainment each evening on the Grand Wailea lawn.

Grand Wailea luau.

There are traditional ceremonies, music, food, drinks, and performances that everyone will love.

Grand Wailea luau dancers.

Lū’au prices start at $200 for children and $265 for adults, and there is an online menu.


So, by now, it’s clear that the property was under construction/heavy renovation.

The entire lobby was an active construction zone.

Grand Wailea lobby construction.

The parking lot and lobby bar were closed. Sections of the hotel were blocked off.

Grand Wailea construction barrier.

Parts of the pool were out of order, with paint chipping everywhere. There were leaks throughout — and it wasn’t raining.

Grand Wailea leaking roof on a sunny day.

This hotel definitely needs a renovation, no argument there.

All of this with no notice or warning to arriving guests. Yes, I get it, the resort doesn’t want to lose revenue on top of paying for improvements. But what an awful surprise for arriving guests.

Grand Wailea pool construction.

Our stay was more of a bonus since we extended our stay in Maui to visit the hotel. But I can only imagine guests who have been dreaming about their vacation walking in the lobby and not being able to hear their own thoughts because of jackhammering.

Not a luxury experience for a Waldorf Astoria property.

Hot Tip: Learn more about the construction at the hotel’s Grand Updates page.


Overall, we had very pleasant experiences with the staff who were friendly and accommodating enough — although probably exhausted.

I could only feel sympathy for the front desk staff who had to endure hours of construction noise just steps from their desk.

However, they often felt indifferent at times. When I asked about the construction at check-in, the agent shrugged her shoulders and said she had no idea how long it would take or what they were doing.

Based on Tripadvisor reviews from before and after our stay, it looks like I am not the only one expressing my displeasure. There have been so many negative reviews that the GM has resorted to copying and pasting responses.

For anyone interested, the official response is “The resort is currently undergoing a multi-faceted revitalization and will soon offer a fresh, modern interpretation of Hawaii.

Of course, I wouldn’t write a negative review without first voicing my concerns directly to the hotel so that they could have an opportunity to improve the situation.

I even did so directly through the app during my stay so that my thoughts were clear, direct, and documented. Only for the hotel to respond with a “sorry ’bout that, thanks for the feedback!” style response while misspelling my name.

Grand Wailea text service.

And then capped off with a generic message before checkout along the lines of “If your stay has been anything less than a 10, let us know so we can make it right!”

Once I got home and completed the post-stay survey, I received a phone call from the hotel offering to refund my parking fee. I obviously accepted, but that did nothing to change my experience.

Final Thoughts

Hibiscus Pool at the Grand Wailea.

Overall, my family and I had a very good time at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort and I would really like to visit again… in a few years.

The property is gorgeous, the pools are fun, and the beach is world-class, but all of that was overshadowed.

I’ve worked in hotels and in the service industry, I look the other way and give the benefit of the doubt more often than I should because I know how tough this business can be.

But this was just one of those stays where every little negative thing that otherwise wouldn’t be a big deal just compounded. It left both my wife and me with a less-than-ideal experience — at what should be a 5-star Waldorf Astoria in Maui, Hawaii.

From the construction to the tired room, lack of elite benefits, and odd hours at the pool, there was a lot to improve.

Fortunately, that wasn’t our only experience in Maui, and we still had 1 more stop on our itinerary!

Have you been to the Grand Wailea? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria is located in front of Wailea beach in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii.

The romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston was filmed at the Grand Wailea in Maui.

The Grand Wailea is on the island of Maui.

Yes, the Grand Wailea has fully reopened.

Yes, the Grand Wailea is currently undergoing a renovation across multiple parts of the property. You can find more information on its website.

About Chris Hassan

Chris holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management and managed social media for all Marriott properties in South America, making him a perfect fit for UP and its social media channels. He has a passion for making content catered toward family travelers.


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May 16, 2022

The fact that there wasn’t any warning about the construction is a big fat no for me. I’ll just have to sell a couple of kidneys for the 4S Wailea. It’s my favorite place but the prices are now outrageous. I also thought that the menu as Humu Humu was a bit limited. Nevertheless, excellent review.

Robert Frank

May 17, 2022

Love the in-depth review. Excellent writing.

Chris Hassan

May 17, 2022

Thanks, Robert!

Paul Davis

May 20, 2022

We had a trip scheduled June 4 and got a notice last week warning us about construction and things being relocated. Their spa is incredible, but won’t be open until next year sometime. I booked at the 95000 points a night and book 5 get 1 free. Rates have gone ballistic for next year. I’m trying to see if I can get them to rebook me next year at the same point level. We’re going to bail and go to Hyatt in Kauai this year.

Chris Hassan

May 23, 2022

Hey Paul,

That’s a bummer…If you are able to get them to honor the 95k rate, please let us know! I think the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a good call this year, hopefully the Grand Wailea will be worth it after all of this work.

Safe travels and thanks for reading!


Kate V

June 12, 2022

We are Grant Wailea members, so have been there often. I agree with everything you say – excellent review. I add my biggest gripe with the hotel – which is the lack of umbrellas to shade the pool chairs. They intentionally don’t have enough umbrellas to try and force you to buy the obscenely expensive cabanas. By not offering enough umbrellas by the pool – it’s a mad dash in the morning to get a seat. People are out waiting at 7am for them to lower ropes so they can rush to put towels/magazines on chairs that have umbrellas. This is horrible and so annoying. At these prices, a person should be able to get a chair with an umbrella by the pool without spending $1200 for a cabana.

Chris Hassan

June 13, 2022

Hey Kate,

Thanks for reading and I appreciate the feedback! Yes, there are quite a few things that the hotel does to try and steer revenue, which often makes for a less than ideal experience for guests. Your comments about the umbrellas are spot on.



January 09, 2023

Thank you for the in-depth review. The redemption rates are 500K+ in Feb 2023 and therefore out of reach. Will continue to look for under 100K rates but not hopeful .

Jen Smith

April 13, 2023

How bad was the noise from the pool and beach area? If we are staying in the renovated Napu tower will we be affected by the construction noise? Thanks! Great post!

Chris Hassan

April 14, 2023

Hey Jen,

I didn’t hear any construction noise while at the pool or beach, only when in the lobby. That said, it looks like most of the construction has been completed, so I think you should be fine. Enjoy your trip!



April 23, 2023

Great post! Really entertaining read.
I’m struggling to choose between the Grand Wailea and the Hyatt for our elopement next year. Which resort is best for couples in your opinion??

Chris Hassan

April 24, 2023

Hey Samantha,

I would probably lean towards the Grand Wailea due to the very nice adults-only pool.


April 28, 2023

Great reviews on Grand Wailea & Hyatt Regency. Looking at these 2 hotels for a trip to Maui this July and price is pretty much the same for ocean view double queens (with club access at Hyatt). Considering current conditions of no construction at Grand Wailea, which would you choose for a family of 4? Kids will be 12 & 14 yrs old. The GW seems more luxurious but the Hyatt club seems like a $ saver with bfast and snacks; walkable to local shops and restaurants is appealing too.

Chris Hassan

April 28, 2023

I would choose the Hyatt in a heartbeat. In fact, we just got back from there again. The club access will save you so much money and the area is great for walking around, you really can’t go wrong. The Grand Wailea is great, and I’m sure your kids would love all the water slides, but feeding a family of 4 there could get quite expensive.


August 22, 2023

We were there in May of 2023. Spent $1200 a night so expecting a luxurious stay. My son removed his wristband for pool use and they would not allow him to use the pools again. Even though I spoke to 3 people including GM they say there policy is no back up. Imagine we spent all that money and could not use the facilities. This hotel has lost their aloha. I would not recommend. It does not care anymore.

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