Maui’s beloved Wailea coast in winter sounds like the tropical heaven that it is—but if you require any extra incentive to book your own slice of Hawaiian paradise now, here are a handful of ways the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui is creating holiday magic.
By Charlene Rooke
Experience Hawaiian Culture
Maui isn’t just the setting for your holiday: Hawaiian culture is holistically woven into the backdrop of every stay. Activities from lei making, ‘ukulele lessons, hula and Polynesian dancing, lauhala (leaf) weaving and daily koi-pond feedings are a blast for all ages. Get schooled by reserving your spot on an authentic outrigger Hawaiian Canoe Experience, take part in an E Komo Mai (welcome) resort horticulture walk or join an ’Olelo session to “talk story” while exploring the Hawaiian language.
Taste Island Flavors
Embrace the flavors of Maui across the resort, starting with Kea Lani Restaurant’s Mauka Makai breakfast featuring local papaya, a macadamia-nut sticky bun and Eggs Benedict flavored with pipikaula (Hawaiian beef jerky). Sunday and Monday nights at Kō, voted Maui’s best resort restaurant, are highlighted by a traditional laulau (food steam-cooked in leaves), offering a savory mix of vegetables, seafood and jasmine rice. Nosh on juicy Five Farm Burgers featuring Maui Cattle Co. beef at AMA Bar & Grill, assemble a bowl at Pang’s Poke Bar in MAKANA Market + Cafe or savor a decadent Lobster Melt with live-music and a cocktail at LUANA.
Beat Winter at Willow Stream Spa
Guests traveling from cold-weather spots will warm to winter with Hawaii-inspired treatments. The Winter Kea Lani Signature Massage exfoliates, soothes and hydrates weather-beaten skin; an organic ANDA facial with a neck and shoulder massage provides an inner glow to complement holiday-kissed skin. Immerse in local healing traditions with a Natural Hawaiian Journey or Hawaiian pa’akai (sea salt) treatment, incorporating island clay and citrus masks (papaya and lemongrass or vanilla and coconut). Make it a family affair: customize a gentle Willow Stream Teens facial, or order poolside relaxation (from a kiddie ’Lil Shaka rubdown to a couples Coconut and Kukui massage) for everyone.
Get in the Water
With three swimming pools, two whirlpools, a 140-foot water slide and a soft white sandy beach fronting the brilliant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll want to get wet here. Get stand-up paddleboard or kayak help from Wailea Scuba, Surf & Paddles on site or get snorkel gear and boogie boards from the beach pavilion, then enjoy complimentary beach umbrellas, reef-safe sunscreen and after-sun cream. The resort keiki (kids), activity and adults-only tranquility pools become the ultimate comfort zone with a reserved cabana experience: chilled beverages and fresh fruit treats from poolside attendants included. Aqua Fit and Aqua HIIT classes are also on the agenda at the adult pool.
Be Well, Be Fit
Whether you crave a quiet meditation, yoga, barre or Pilates practice; Boot Camp or the ABSolution of a stomach-crunching class; or a round at the award-winning Wailea Golf Club, enjoy daily movement during your stay. Kids attack the Keiki Ninja Zone, a coach-led obstacle course that builds skills and confidence. On December 23, a Hawaiian Islands Land Trust excursion visits Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge to explore its ecosystem, history and unique culture. On December 26, a special New Moon Sound Healing event uses crystal bowls and meditation to ring in a new cycle.
Celebrate the Sunset
The west-facing beaches of Wailea make for divine sunsetting: little ones will love following the golden-hour pu (conch shell) call sparking the torch-lighting ceremony around the resort. Cozy up in LUANA with a Makalapua cocktail (Maui-made Organic Ocean Vodka with elements of rose, citrus and lavender), or order a bottle of bubbly to toast the sunset from the private oversized lanai (balcony) in your guest suite. Or, simply welcome in the evening like many locals do: perched on the sandy beach marvelling at the ever-evolving hues painting the sky.
For many travelers, the warm embrace of December temperatures averaging in the 80 F/high 20s C range is enough of a treat. Winter is also whale season, with majestic humpbacks often in view teaching their newborns to frolic in the warm Pacific waters. Rest assured that the Planet21 team makes your stay as sustainable as possible: solar panels are one of 50-plus eco initiatives at the resort, which sponsors coral reef and beach clean-ups and supports conservation projects for the endangered local Hawksbill turtle.
Find Privacy or Romance
It takes a villa: the ultimate holiday retreat is an oceanfront home-away-from-home, just steps from Polo Beach. Two- and three-bedroom villas (ranging from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet) have gourmet kitchens, laundry facilities, tricked-out entertainment systems with 55-inch screens, private courtyards with plunge pools and barbecues—perfect for extended-family stays. Premium villa perks include valet parking, daily buffet breakfast and a welcome basket of treats. Want the fridge stocked with your favorites or a private barbecue for the family? Call on the dedicated concierge team to make the arrangements.
For Kids Only
Keiki are treasured in Hawaiian culture, and the by-reservation Keiki Lani kids club (daily morning and afternoon sessions) has themed activities, from Hawaiian cultural (hula) and crafting to theme-day activities (sand castles, tide pool exploration and gecko hunting). Sign them up for Mermaid University, to learn undersea legends plus monofin swimming skills! Nightly Hannukah menorah lighting, gingerbread house and ornament making, story time with Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating and of course Santa’s arrival by outrigger canoe on Christmas Eve ensures they won’t miss a thing over the holidays.
Snuggle up for movie nights every evening over the holidays, and give generously to the Tree of Hope (donations support Maui Food Bank’s Aloha Backpack Buddies program). On Fridays, shop the Made on Maui marketplace in the lobby for local artisan gifts. Stop by the New Year’s Eve kids party (featuring face painting, balloon fun and more), then enjoy a grown-up Champagne celebration at LUANA. Kick off 2020 with a decadent New Year’s Day brunch with a Bloody Mary bar. That night, meet Maui artist Dale Zarrella, who sculpts in Hawaiian woods and bronze, at a Night of Art, Culture and Chocolate. Pacific Dream Photography, experts at turning moments into lasting memories, will be on hand to capture your family’s candid shots, formal portraits or artistic interpretations (Tip: a perfect family picture spot is in front of the huge, elaborately decorated Christmas tree, touted as one of the largest in the state.)