Hotels North America Travel

Maui – The Fairmont Kea Lani

Last month, Mr. Feather and I took advantage of the long MLK holiday weekend and spent a few days in Maui, relaxing and enjoying the sun! This time, we tried out a resort I had never stayed at before – the Fairmont Kea Lani. Mr. Feather’s mom and her husband were also staying there, and it was incredibly convenient to be in one place.

While we had never stayed at the Kea Lani, we had been there a few times, always when at the Four Seasons and when walking over to the Fairmont’s in house restaurant, Nick’s Fishmarket. The one thing I had always remembered about the Kea Lani was it’s huge, very grand open lobby.

lobby

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with the customary lei and kukui nut necklace, and some delicious ice cold juice.

lei

After checking in, we headed up to our room – an oceanview king. Every room in the Kea Lani is a suite – great for families! A large living room greeted us as soon as we opened the door.

living room

The bedroom was equally large with ample space. Both the living room and bedroom had their own sliding door leading out to the balcony, which had a dining table, four chairs, as well as a lounger.

bedroom

The ocean view from our balcony – it was an “angled” ocean view of the type you’ll find in most hotels in Maui. There were a few rooms on the ends of each floor which had a full on ocean view – these were very expensive!

view beach

Our balcony was quite large, and also faced over the resort grounds itself – below were the largest pools, with a slide connecting them. As you may be able to guess from the slide, these pools allowed children and we didn’t spend too much time there. The families we saw though were having a great time.

view pool

Our bathroom was large, with a big separate soaking tub (which I used) and two individual sinks.

bathroom

I also loved the shower! It was in an “open” style and perfect for the Maui vibe, but not too open that water was splashing everywhere. The shower was also spotless. I have a weird thing with hotel showers and always hold my breath that they will be completely clean (and if they’re not, I have nightmares the whole trip).

shower

The toiletries were a pleasant surprise – Rose 31 from Le Labo, a nice musky rose scent. Very cool and I was told that all Fairmonts are now using this line.

rose toiletries

A small tray of various macadamia nuts and fresh pineapple we found waiting for us in the room when we arrived – a sweet welcome treat!

room treats

Now, onto the rest of the Kea Lani! Each morning we’d wake up, and enjoy the sunrise (thank you jetlag).

morning sun

We’d then make our way down to the lobby, and enjoy a little stroll around the grounds before it got busier. Immediately in the lobby was a small bamboo “forest”. It reminded us a wee bit of Kyoto (just a little).

bamboo

bamboo2

Just a short walk through the lobby was breakfast. Each morning we’d usually eat from the buffet, where there was a nice selection of fruits, hot savories, and an omelette station. The buffet was quite good and had ample choices for each of us in the mornings, but wasn’t the best that I’ve had. The Four Seasons’ was larger with more options.

buffet

A few times we ordered a la carte off the menu, and everything was delicious. Here was my favorite, a loco moco made with local Maui beef!

loco moco

After breakfast, we’d make our way to the adult pool. Like many of the other large Wailea resorts, the Kea Lani had a separate, adults only pool where it was generally much quieter.

adult pool

There were quite a few chairs set up, and during the MLK weekend, we never had to wait to find a chair. The cabanas however, were all for rent, at a rate of $150 a day, so we never used them. If you are debating between the Four Seasons and the Kea Lani, and are a cabana user, I’d keep in mind that the Four Seasons doesn’t charge for cabanas.

adult pool2

Something unique about the pool was these cool “leaf” type loungers that were set up on either end. They were the perfect place to soak up the sun and really comfortable as well!

pool leaves

A gorgeous hammock on the way to the pool. I think all resorts in hot and beach locations should have hammocks!

hammock

During our days swimming and relaxing by the pool, we’d occasionally get hungry and order from the pool menu. I’m happy to report that the poke was more than satisfactory, though my favorite was the kahlua pork quesadilla!

quesadilla

During our stay, we also made an appointment for a couple’s massage at the newly opened Willow Stream spa. I was really impressed with the spa – it was brand new, and the facilities were fantastic.

spa entrance

The women’s side had huge locker rooms, unique steam and rainfall showers, as well as complimentary mud treatments that you could apply on yourself.

spa4

While waiting for the mud to dry, you could sit on this heated stone bench – so nice and relaxing!

spa3

A beautiful wood sauna with heated stones.

spa1

Once we were each changed into our robes, we met in the coed waiting lounge, which was huge and unoccupied while we were there.

spa6

spa5

spa7

I really enjoyed my massage, and so did Mr. Feather. I would highly recommend a visit to the Willow Stream spa if you’re staying at Kea Lani – it is in my opinion probably the best and newest spa in Maui right now!

While we enjoyed the spa, my favorite experience at Kea Lani was actually an activity very unique to the hotel – the canoe excursion. The Kea Lani has a number of canoes on its properties, and several parties of four guests out each morning in each of the canoes, to paddle around the property.

canoe

Our experience was amazing! We went with Mr. Feather’s parents, and all four of us thought it was a highlight of our trip. It happened to be whale watching seasons while we were in Maui, and we came very close to a group of whales and dolphins. The mother whale’s tail was right below our canoe – if she had swished it up, we would have all come tumbling out!

The most impressive part of the canoe excursion? It is completely complimentary (though we tipped our guides)! It’s a wonderful experience that the Kea Lani offers its guests, and I’d encourage anybody whose staying at the hotel to take advantage of it. You must book early to get a spot however, so book as soon as you make your reservations.

The canoe excursion starts and ended at the beach in front of the Kea Lani – this is also where we would often find ourselves in the evening, watching the beautiful sunset.

sunset2

Overall, we enjoyed our time at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui. The question I receive often get from readers about Maui is: for Wailea, Four Seasons (you can find my review here) or Fairmont? With that in mind, here is my take –

For room product and value for price , I would give the edge to the Fairmont – all the rooms are suites, and if you are traveling with children, the extra space is great. If you are looking for a higher end suite, I think options at the Fairmont or Four Seasons would both satisfy. And the Fairmont has fantastic villas that are awesome for a larger family.

For food – Four Seasons, I just prefer the restaurants there more, and the breakfast in my opinion is better. For pool – also Four Seasons. Both had great pools but I preferred the Serenity Pool which had fantastic view of the water (and free cabanas).

Spa and activities – I would give the edge to the Fairmont , the spa is brand new and I loved the canoe excursion.

Both of the resorts were in great shape in highly maintained. For service, I would also give the nod to Four Seasons – at the Fairmont, we had a few issues with housekeeping for our room, and usually had to make any request more than once. At the Four Seasons, everything was seamless, even when the resort was at full capacity.

Again, I’m being very, very nitpicky here (I know I have some very discerning readers), and overall we were  happy with our stay at the Kea Lani. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Maui, and especially families.

Thank you for reading along – next time I’ll be covering some of our activities and eating in Maui!

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  • Cassie
    February 12, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Pretty!

  • Deedee
    February 13, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Thank you for your thorough review!
    From my side, we as the costumer have every right to be picky; when I stay at a hotel and there is a hair in the shower….brrr *shudder*
    Looking forward for your report on eating and activities.

    • Katherine
      February 13, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks Deedee 🙂

  • julie
    August 18, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I would agree with you on the service and the Infinity Pool at TFS. TFS is unsurpassable when it comes to service. They seem to be able to guess your needs before you even think it. 🙂 I disagree however with your food critique.

    I didn’t like the breakfast buffet at TFS. I found it disorganized and confusing. The Kea Lani is open, bright and easy to maneuver. Wolf Gang’s Spago was a huge let down for us at TFS, while Nicks is always fresh and accommodating. The rooms at TFS are small. We paid almost $1200 a night for a ‘Full Ocean View’ room which was very disappointing. As it was quite small and the view was far from ‘Ocean View’. For the same amount of money at the Kea Lani, the view will lap that of TFS and it’s twice as big.

    We’ve stayed at both. Again for Service there is simply no beating TFS. The Infinity pool is also REALLY cool, but as you stated, it’s for adults only. 21 year old adults only, so even if you have older teenagers, they are not allowed.

    We’re headed back to the Kea Lani in January. Of the two, we prefer it.

    .