Factor in the elegant surroundings of Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, and it’s not hard to see why
The volcanic island of Maui, Hawaii, has long been a go-to for families seeking adventure with a hefty slice of beach on the side, and when you factor in the elegant surroundings of Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, a trip to paradise takes on a whole new meaning.
With the most fantastic swimming pools and splash zones on Maui, there’s no better way to get your bearings – and to quash jet lag – than an exhilarating ride down Grand Wailea’s Lava Tube.
The recently reimagined slide is one of the hotel’s most popular features for kids, for good reason. With a 30-foot drop and 262 feet of foaming slides, guests have been known to reach speeds of up to 22 miles per hour.
The Wailea Canyon pool on six different levels provides something more sedate. Gentle currents carry you through a variety of tropical zones including a Tarzan rope swing, waterfalls, caves and a grotto-based swim-up bar. It even has a sandy beach.
Alternatively, Wailea Beach – the real deal – is just on your doorstep, with stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling gear and boogie boards just begging to be hired. Reserve a pool cabana before you fly; they are very popular and can be booked up to a year in advance.
Kainoa Horcajo, cultural ambassador at Grand Wailea, was born and raised on Maui, and to this day, he continues to study under the guidance of highly respected kupuna (elders).
Learn about celestial calendars, martial arts, energy healing and much more on one of his weekly cultural tours of the property.
There are also botanical tours of the grounds led by Jim Heid, the hotel’s Director of Landscaping. During a leisurely stroll, he’ll extol the virtues of all the native Hawaiian flowers, plants and fruits (spot the pineapple!) found on the estate, explaining their significance to the island – a must for any budding naturalists.
There’s so much to see and do on the island; unlimited natural bounty awaits explorers of all ages. Set off on an adventure for a picnic lunch at Twin Falls (just 30 miles away) where a gentle hike leads to majestic waterfalls, perfect for an afternoon of swimming and rock jumping.
To ramp up the adrenaline, talk to your personal concierge about arranging a helicopter tour of Maui’s dramatic volcano craters or a boat excursion to search for humpback whales.
Make sure you’re back in time for sunset though; there’s nothing more mesmerizing than watching the sun sinking over the Pacific Ocean at Wailea Beach.
Treat the family to Hawaiian flavors at Humu Humu, the resort’s thatched-roof Polynesian restaurant. Set above a glittering lagoon, with live music in the evenings, this buzzing eatery recently underwent a major revamp.
Chef Michael Lofaro (winner of ‘Chef of the year 2016’ in the Maui No Ka ‘Oi, Aipono Awards) conjures finger-licking plates of grilled mahi mahi and succulent steaks with a zesty Polynesian twist. Best of all, keiki (children aged five and under) are invited to eat for free.
Prefer to stay barefoot by the pool? The boulder-strewn Volcano Bar & Grill is equally child-friendly, delivering fresh salads, delicious sandwiches, flame-grilled hamburgers and Mai Tais long into the afternoon. And for snacks, smoothies and gelato later on, there’s Café Kula tucked in-between the hotel’s boutiques.
Top tip (especially for new parents): Honolulu coffee is served from 5.30am at Café Kula.
No vacation is complete without something special to take home as a memento.
Local artist-made keepsakes can be found in Grand Wailea’s brand-new gift shop Makana, Gifts With Aloha, or you can find a selection of other toys and games at Pineapple Patch, the hotel’s keiki store.
For something to hang on the wall at home, works by some of Hawaii’s most celebrated artists are on display in the Napua Gallery, and Pink Lilia is the place to go for maxi-dresses and tasseled sandals to pep up your wardrobe.
In case you’ve forgotten any holiday essentials, there’s a Quiksilver store selling everything you could possibly need for the beach.
Rest and relaxation
Recently voted one of the ‘Top 10 Spas in the United States’ by Condé Nast Traveler (italics), Grand Wailea’s spa is one of the best in Hawaii.
Featuring 40 treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy circuit, Redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room, Japanese bath and an extensive treatment list of Hawaiian and western therapies, one could easily lose several hours, if not days, here.
Try the ‘Healing Waters of Maui™ Termé Experience’: a series of five baths designed to soothe tired souls. Or the ‘Pala’au Journey’ (pala’au meaning ‘to heal with plants’): a deeply nurturing session that starts with a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage followed by a full-body cocoon using natural products made on Maui.
What about the children? Don’t worry. They’ll be having a whale of a time at The Rock, a ‘mini-resort within the resort’ designed for kids of all ages.
Families can enjoy Open House at The Rock from 9am until 10am daily, cue hula lessons, puka shell necklace-making and Lego-building competitions. Happy days.
Book your stay at Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Further information at grandwailea.com