No two resorts are created equal, especially on Maui. And my goodness, the Fairmont Kea Lani is truly a step above.

I recently had a blissful staycation at the Fairmont, and I’m convinced it’s one of the best resorts on the island. Here are some takeaways.

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The Architecture and Design

If you’re a design lover or just enjoy a good aesthetic, the Fairmont is the place to be.

I’d driven past the Fairmont a million times before actually staying there, and even from the road, it looked like a big pearly-white castle. (Not-so-coincidentally, Kea Lani in Hawaiian translates to “heavenly white.”)

Fairmont Lobby

Pulling up to the lobby, I first noticed the undulating white domes that topped the hotel. The domes, coupled with the lobby’s huge pillars and arches, marbled floors, and striking water features, make the place feel castle-like indeed.

The lobby decor also spoke to a modern aesthetic, with lots of rattan, neutral warm tones, and plants. I especially appreciated the Hawaiian touches, which give the resort a sense of place.

There is a cultural center in the lobby, Hale Kukuna, which invites guests to learn more about the islands’ history and culture. Having grown up on Maui, I always appreciate when a visitor-facing establishment tastefully honors the host culture. Well done, Fairmont Kea Lani.

Hale Kukuna

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The Suites

Fairmont Kea Lani has the largest hotel rooms in Wailea. There are 450 rooms, starting at one-bedroom suites and ranging to multi-level villas. The extra space is a godsend for families with children or groups traveling together.

Fairmont suites

Like the lobby, the design in the suites is refreshing and modern — with neutral tones, marble, and rattan plus dashes of blue and floral prints. It’s just enough color to give the space a touch of tropical feel.

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The Restaurants

The Fairmont Kea Lani is a dining destination in itself. The resort has 5 incredible restaurants on the property: Kō, Ama, Kea Lani Restaurant, Nick’s Fishmarket, and Pilina.

Fairmont restaurants

Whether you’re staying at the Fairmont or not, Pilina is a great place to celebrate a special occasion. The views, the drinks, and the expertly prepared sushi are out of this world. Pilina is open for lunch and dinner and serves sushi, seafood bites, and some of the craftiest cocktails in Wailea. Pilina calls their cocktails an “aina (land) driven journey,” and it’s true. Each cocktail features ingredients sourced from the islands. Plus, the ocean views from the bar seating are just incredible.

I loved Ko as well. Ko is the Fairmont Kea Lani’s signature restaurant, and it has a really unique dining concept. The menu here was inspired by the cultures that came to Hawaii during the plantation days, so you’ll see dishes from China, Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Portugal, and Hawaii. Growing up in the islands, I never thought I’d see lau lau on the menu at an upscale restaurant. Hawaiian and island-style food is finally getting the recognition it deserves, thanks to Ko.

While Pilina and Kō are great for upscale dinners, there are some slightly more casual establishments in the resort as well. Ama is the Fairmont’s poolside bar, which serves a selection of island-inspired eats and tropical cocktails. There is also a swim-up bar at Ama, which is a lot of fun.

For breakfast, Their buffets are some of the best around (Sundays only at Kō  and daily at Kea Lani Restaurants.) Or, you can try the goods at Makana Market and Cafe. They serve locally roasted coffee, house-made pastries, breakfast bites, acai bowls, and smoothies.


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The Beach

The Fairmont Kea Lani overlooks Polo Beach, which is a bit smaller and a bit quieter than its next-door neighbor – Wailea Beach. On most days, Polo Beach offers a calm, sandy place to swim, with decent snorkeling along the northern lava rock point. Of course, conditions can vary from day to day. Fairmont guests can also request chairs and beach umbrellas, making Polo Beach a great place to laze the day away.

Polo Beach

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The Amenities

Multiple pools? Check. The Fairmont Kea Lani has two family-friendly pools and one adult pool. The lower lagoon family pool has a ton to keep the kids occupied, like a water slide and basketball nets. Meanwhile, the upper family pool offers access to Ama’s swim-up bar.

The adult pool is near Ko, a short walk from the family pools. Naturally, this pool is quieter and more relaxed. I split my time between all three pools because I enjoy swim-up bars, waterslides, and quiet relaxation time as much as the next guy.

Fairmont Pools

As I mentioned above, the Fairmont also has a new Hawaiian cultural center in the lobby. I highly recommend spending some time here. The center has a selection of books, relics, artworks, and artifacts on loan from Hale Ho’ike’ike (also known as the Bailey House Museum). Additionally, there are a ton of cultural activities on offer, like canoe paddling (a must-do), ukulele lessons, hula lessons, and cultural demonstrations.

And while I didn’t personally use these amenities, the resort also has a kid’s club, tennis courts, concierge services, and a luxurious spa.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the Fairmont Kea Lani. This resort ticks all my boxes. I feel like it honors Hawaiian culture in a very tasteful way, which is important to me. The design is downright stunning, the restaurants are well thought out and delicious, and the staff is as friendly as ever. Given the chance, I would stay at the Fairmont again in a heartbeat, and I’ll be quick to recommend this resort to anyone interested in visiting Maui.


Fairmont Kea lani
4100 Wailea Alanui Dr.
Wailea-Makena, HI 96753


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