It's one thing for a luxury hotel to go the extra mile - which the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui is known for. It's quite another for a property to create not just an amazing, but an astounding experience that will forever be etched in the guest's mind.
Head Concierge Samuel Wilhelm, a member of the prestigious Clefs d'Or (Golden Key Society), assisted a guest who returned to Maui every year to celebrate his wedding anniversary. On the occasion of his 10th such anniversary, the guest notified Mr. Wilhelm that his wife had recently passed away - yet he wished to return to the Kea Lani, take the canoe experience that the hotel offers to guests, and scatter her ashes at sea.
This simple request touched Mr. Wilhelm to the utmost. "During the conversation he was sobbing and soon so did I," says Mr. Wilhelm. "I arranged a sunset sail for him, arranged for a kahu (priest) and brought flowers and a maile lei for him, and one for his wife. The ceremony included a traditional Hawaiian church song, a chant and even the photographers who had photographed this man's wedding on property a decade ago."
Adds Mr. Wilhelm, "I also sent up a flower arrangement to his room, as part of the hotel's condolences. He couldn't speak much, but he did grab my arm and say thank you. It was an experience that impacted me more than he knew." That's what it's like to stay at the Kea Lani, a hotel that will charm you with its spirit of aloha, professionalism, and willingness to create magical memories for each guest under any and all circumstances.
Last year, the inimitable Kea Lani received the Hawaii Green Business Award in a ceremony held at the State Capitol building in Honolulu. The hotel was recognized based on specific criteria, including their environmental practices ranging from pollution prevention to water and energy conservation, recycling, environmental purchasing, sharing their information with other participants, and much more.
Over the past nine years, the hotel's Green Team has successfully implemented more than 50 environmentally friendly initiatives. These include, for example, a Recycling Cents program that donates money from recyclables to local charities, which has raised more than $20,000 and a laundry recycling program that has saved more than 50 million gallons of water since installation in 2005. The hotel perfectly embodies the Hawaiian theme of Malama Aina which means "to take care of the land."
Rooms At The Top
The resort, which recently underwent multi-million-dollar renovations, features 413 one-bedroom suites that are a pleasure to stay in. To make things even better - are you listening, celebrities? - the Kea Lani also has 37 two- and three-bedroom villas measuring 1,800 and 2,200 square feet, respectively. Jessica Simpson, Owen and Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Calista Flockhart, Britney Spears and tons of other A-list Hollywood types have discovered that the villas at the Kea Lani offer the best of both worlds: private residences with first-class hotel services and amenities.
These beautiful retreats feature private lanai with plunge pool, barbecue grill, second bathroom, washer, dryer and well-appointed kitchen with Bosch dishwasher and granite countertops. Villa 29, for example, just a quick walk past the fragrant plumeria trees, features all of the above, including a walk-in closet and all new upholstery, bedding and drapes, as do all of the other villas. Even better, all the villas have no minimum nights required and come with a convertible or luxury car, jeep or minivan!
Lunch, Munch and Brunch
The Fairmont Kea Lani also offers wonderful dining options. Ko offers cuisine that is reflective of the many cultures of Hawaii's sugarcane plantation era. The menu is inspired by the rich culinary traditions of Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese cultures. Ko (which means "sugarcane" in Hawaiian) features such goodies as Filipino spring rolls, taro rolls with a delicious homemade edamame spread, salads made with local fern shoots, macadamia nuts and passion fruit vinaigrette, and fish that can be prepared four ways.
We opted for the walu (butterfish) that was perfectly grilled and served with miso-butter, a divine Asian coleslaw made with sesame oil, and a special request - whipped Molokai sweet potatoes that tasted like candy. For dessert, we raptured over the Wailua Estate chocolate baked custard, which is more like two pieces of fudge, and featured macadamia-nut praline crust and Kula strawberry sorbet. For a special treat, the hotel will make arrangements for a private cabana dinner-for two; four courses plus wine costs $175 per person. It is the ultimate romantic treat, certainly something to be shared by honeymooners, those celebrating an anniversary, or just any two people in love.
More To Love
Juvenal is the hotel's amazing high-end salon. Thanks to owner Juvenal Hidalgo, who recently won an Aveda contest for his expertise in coloring and cutting hair, guests return time and time again for his services. Mr. Hidalgo told us that he was one of the winners in Aveda's "Color Your Way to New York" contest and with good reason.
At Spa Kea Lani, we loved the new Ola Sugar Scrub treatment ($140 for 50 minutes), administered by Joni, the aesthetician. The aromatic adventure, using Ola products from Hilo on The Big Island of Hawaii, started with Ola face and body mist in coconut lemongrass, followed by the sugar scrub in the same flavor, and a light massage with oil.
Whatever you do, take advantage of the complimentary Hawaiian Cultural Canoe Experience - here is a great way to get immersed in the ways of the island's early seafarers. You'll learn the basics of paddling, the history of the canoe and its importance to Hawaiian heritage, and examples of native chants used when navigating the ocean.
All things considered, some of our most magical memories have been created at the Kea Lani by simply bringing a pink tube and floating and swimming together in its sparkling, and recently enhanced, pool which is one of the best on all of Maui. A simple pleasure, for sure, but isn't that true of all the best things in life?