Tropical themes are common on Maui; rich koa woods, fragrant blossoming trees, and the soft melodies of the ukulele play on several properties throughout the island. While thatched roof accents and Hawaiian décor can be found everywhere, a departure from the normative island resort can be discovered at The Fairmont Kea Lani.
Most pronounced is the distinctive architecture on the property. Upon arrival, guests drive through towering Norfolk pines to the white-washed porte-cochère before entering the cavernous lobby, an open-air design and reminiscent of Spanish and Greek architecture. Take a serene walk amidst the bamboo, lounge by the pool or explore the garden alcoves perfect for some summer reading, there’s so much to see at the hotel. The white bridges over the numerous pools and lagoons further the feeling of a quaint Maui experience.
The imagination and fresh approach to fare is notable at the restaurant, along with its mesmerizing steel-bead décor hanging above the comfortable bar and dining area. With views overlooking one of the night-lit pools and the ocean in the distance, it proves to be an extremely enjoyable atmosphere. With seasonal offerings as fresh as the catch, asking the server what the local fisherman may have recently brought to the kitchen is highly advised.
Opening up to sprawling lawns and boasting ocean access, the recently updated villas afford guests two floors and private plunge pools, and are prime for families. Afternoon lawn games or walks along the boardwalk to take in the sunset are within steps of these private oases. Guestrooms are comfortable and afford sweeping views from sprawling balconies including the 1,100-square-foot Signature Suites that offer views of Molokini.
Ko is a lauded Maui restaurant and one of the highlights of the property. Infusing plantation-style food with a fine dining twist, Executive Chef Tylon Pang asked employees to bring in old family recipes for consideration for the menu. Maui being a melting pot of Korean, Polynesian, Filipino, Chinese and of course Hawaiian heritages, the cuisine is simply mouth-watering. On the cocktail menu, the 3 Nene features Grey Goose L’Orange, Le Citron, and La Poire Vodka, with cranberry juice and a splash of sweet and sour. The Honey Basil Fresh with Plymouth Gin, is hand pressed with basil, clover honey syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice, both are absolutely refreshing and different than your typical cocktail.
From Ono to Mahi Mahi, the fish from the nearby Maui waters are exceptional. Diners get to decide the style in which they would like their fish prepared—from a crunchy macadamia nut crust to fresh garden herbs locally sourced—it’s made exactly how you want it. Other menu items include Soba Noodle Sir Fry and Ono Pulehu Chicken, a ginger-, soy- and sugar-cane marinated chicken breast served with caramelized Maui onions.
While one of the main complaints of the property is that it is outdated, major renovations continue to bring this resort closer to the present. There’s no doubt that this luxury resort is decidedly different and unique in its many Maui offerings.