While Hawaii was closed to tourism during this COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic also brought with it an ironic twist: The island’s ecosystem was able to recharge, with bays re-teeming with fish, and coral reefs bouncing back. Hotel Wailea, the island’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property, is at the forefront of this rejuvenation, and has recently implemented numerous initiatives designed to lighten its tourism footprint. A warm aloha couldn’t be more obvious!
“COVID was a double-edged sword,” says Christy Stesky, the Director of Marketing at the Hotel Wailea. “Everything closed down, but nature came to life.” In just her daily walks with her dog, for example, she told me that she noticed that the color of the ocean water changed, and that the beaches were empty except for the fish and turtles “that came right up to shore. The pandemic brought to life challenges that Hawaii has faced, due to the sheer amount of tourists visiting.” She says that it’s always been in the Hotel Wailea’s DNA to integrate guest experiences with the health of Hawaii.
In light of this, the Hotel Wailea has currently embraced a forward-thinking , pro-active stance that’s designed to ensure that the hotel offers incredible travel experiences to its well-heeled guests, but still keeps its footprint to a minimum. It is also the state’s only adults-only escape. (For more information about COVID requirements for visiting Hawaii, click here.)
For example, during the quarantine, the Hotel Wailea created its own line of reef-safe sunscreen. From now on travel sizes will be distributed to guests at turndown service, and larger sizes will be available for purchase. “These contain no small particles that would get deposited in the reef,” Ms. Stesky told me.
In addition, the property has also created bath products using honey from on-property bees. “We have 10 hives on property,” Ms. Stesky said. “The honey is used in our cocktails, and also in our bath products. These also use wild ginger that grows on Haleakala. It was important to us to make something high-quality.”
Another advantage the hotel offers is its all-new Surf Safari experience, which only takes two guests at a time, to remote areas of Hawaii. “It’s a four-hour safari,” Ms. Stesky said, “using top-of-the-line surf instructors, and it’s not done in a large group.”
Yet another experience just for two guests is a private canoe experience led by a Hawaiian native. “He gives great insight into the lore and culture.”
Ms. Stesky noted that the Hotel Wailea only has 72 suites, to include 150 guests – on its 16 acres — so that guests have a lot of space where they can easily social distance. “It’s a very sustainable approach,” she says. The best rooms in the hotel are the 12 Celebration Suites, which are premium oceanview rooms that are newly redecorated. Rates in these accommodations start at $1,199 per night.
For a once-in-a-lifetime Instagrammable moment, couples can also dine in the hotel’s ultra-private treehouse. What could be more magical? The treehouse is suspended over the Wailea coastline amongst mango trees, while a seven-course tasting menu is prepared right in front of them by Chef Krista Garcia. The cost is $1,200 per couple including champagne toast; add $95pp if you want wine pairings.
And of course, don’t forget that the Hotel Wailea is Hawaii’s only Relais & Chateaux property, assuring you of the finest high-quality cuisine.
Said Ms. Stesky, “We are putting our guests in touch with the true essence of Hawaii, so that they can really interact with the land and the people.”
Here’s just a bit more about the hotel, to whet your appetite. The Hotel Wailea provides travelers with ultra-private elegance infused with relaxed island luxury. It is one of the first hotels to re-open in Hawaii and the only adults-only escape in the islands. Overlooking Maui’s southern coastline with views of three Hawaiian Islands, every suite at Hotel Wailea feels as if it’s a guests’ own private beach house. When it’s time to catch some sunshine, an adults-only pool experience beckons with residential-sized cabanas outfitted with high-speed internet to accommodate work or play poolside. An apothecary style bar serves up made-from-scratch cocktails utilizing all the fresh local bounty of Maui. Hotel Wailea also welcomes a brand new Executive Chef, Jonathan De Paz, who hails from French Laundry, Eleven Madison Park and Restaurant Daniel.
With those credentials, it is no wonder that the Hotel Wailea is a Relais & Chateaux property. Bon appetit!
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