The Andaz Maui at Wailea, a Hyatt luxury hotel, opened its doors on Sunday, Sept. 1, on the site of the former Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort, which closed in September 2007.
About 200 attended the opening festivities at the 15-acre resort; these included hotel workers, management, public officials and neighbors, as well as guests who planned to spend the first night at the property.
They gathered at the front entrance for the traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony by led by Kahuna Nui Kapono'ai Molitau.
While Kapono‘ai Molitau begins the blessing of the new Andaz Maui at Wailea, general manager Michael Stephens (right) cuts the lei as Jordan Meisner (left), senior vice president of field operations for Hyatt Corporation, and Kainoa Horcajo (center), cultural affairs director for the new hotel, watch.
Andaz Maui General Manager Michael Stephens gave brief opening remarks and cut the lei as Jordan Meisner, senior vice president of field operations for the Hyatt Corporation, and Kainoa Horcajo, cultural affairs director for the new hotel, looked on. Frank "Bud" Pikrone, general manager of the Wailea Resort Association, offered best wishes from the organization in welcoming comments that added a touch of historical perspective.
The crowd followed the chanter and hotel executives through the long dramatic walkway to a large central courtyard for the conclusion of the ceremonies, then went on to enjoy opening day festivities and guided tours of the property.
The experience drew enthusiastic reviews from many of the participants who "oohed and ahhed" over the architecture, furnishings and features in a style that mixed Japanese-inspired architectural details with the clean lines of Scandinavian modern--a combination best described as Kiyoto meets Oslo.
The hotel was redesigned by the New York-based Rockwell Group, which created a series of architectural interventions to open the resort's buildings to Maui's landscape and used a palette of natural materials.
According to Stephens, the Andaz opened with a staff of about 500 associates. He said about 90 percent of the workers were hired locally.
The Andaz (pronounced Ahn-dahz) is Maui's first LEED-certified luxury hotel, a designation that indicates leadership in energy and environmental design.
Meisner said the new resort is the tenth to join the Andaz brand and the first resort to bear its name.
The Andaz Maui has 297 rooms and suites, including seven two- and four-bedroom residential VIP villas. It features five restaurants. One of them, Morimoto Maui, the namesake of celebrity Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, will focus on a fusion of Japanese, Western and Hawaiian cuisines. It is expected to open next month.
The property has five pools, four of which are infinity-style water features in a tiered setting, with a fifth set aside for adult use only.
There is also a spa and fitness center, as well as access to Wailea's tennis courts and golf courses. Many of the amenities that are add-on charges at other hotels are available on a complimentary basis at the Andaz Maui.
Rates for guest rooms start at $409, depending on the season and room type, according to Anita Rahman, the hotel's director of sales and marketing. At the high end, she said, the four-bedroom villa may be booked by request only--meaning it will not be sold on the hotel's Website.
"The range for this villa will be $5,000-plus, depending on seasonality per night," she said.
There is presently an introductory special rate available to Hyatt Gold Passport members.
Six additional villa-style residences are also onsite. These are offered for sale and are not affiliated with the Andaz.
Throughout the property, the emphasis is on creating a "residential" atmosphere, and staffers continuously referred to "feeling at home" as the critical part of the experience.
To that end, there is no front desk check-in. Instead, an associate greets arriving guests, checks them in on an iPad and personally familiarizes them with the property and its features.
Likewise, the ballrooms, meeting rooms and banquet facilities are termed "studios." These are more self-contained, all-inclusive and flexible in their use than at the typical resort property.
Initial response was not long in coming. Among the first paying guests were Paul and Christen Stephens, visitors from San Francisco, who took the opportunity to try the new facilities. After seeing it from the beach and hearing that it was about to open, they switched their reservations from a nearby resort.
The Andaz's first online review rated five stars.
"Woohoo!" exclaimed Richard D. of Santa Clara, who wrote the first comments on Yelp on opening day. "Be prepared for one of freshest hotel experiences of your life From the moment you pull into front of the resort, you will find that everything you think you know about how you would like to be taken care of will change--the check-in experience, the room, the pools, the mini-bar, the amenities and so on. The list goes on and on, but I won't spoil the surprises for you.
"The team on-site here is very friendly and attentive, and I am just blown away" he said. "It's not easy to impress someone who thinks they've seen it all, but it's clear that Andaz Maui has proved me wrong."