My first trip to Hawaii didn't start off so well. I had only just arrived at the newly renovated Hotel Wailea, changed into a bikini and stretched out poolside, revitalizing cocktail in hand and long-distance boyfriend at my side, when it started to rain. And not just rain; it poured. The locals say that foreigners always bring the bad weather with them — coming from foggy San Francisco, I couldn't deny it — but what the hotel should tell travelers is that once you see their romantic suites (and steamy shower made for two), you won't mind a little time indoors.
Fresh off a multi-million dollar renovation, Hotel Wailea is a short 30-minute drive from the Maui airport and offers a secluded getaway for couples (there are only 72 rooms) with an awe-inspiring view of clear blue ocean. Our suite, a multi-room abode with a big bed dressed in crisp linens, comfortable living room and kitchen complete with wine cooler, and a luxe bathroom with an open shower and deep soaking tub, was only missing the bubble bath.
That night we dined at Capische?, the onsite Italian restaurant, feasting on fresh Ahi tuna crudo, Heirloom Haiku tomato caprese, beef carpaccio, and the wonderfully rich Kabocha pumpkin gnocchi. We waddled back to our rooms, full but happy.
The next morning we woke up for dawn patrol, hoped into the complimentary black car service (they'll take you anywhere in Wailea) and jumped happily into the early morning waves crashing on the Club beach. A quick flash of our room card got us beach chairs, an umbrella, and snorkeling gear. I knew I had to see some turtles while I was in Maui, but I didn't know it would be so easy. The gentle giants swam gracefully among the snorkelers, paddle boarders, and tons of Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Hawaii's state fish with characteristic blue lips) in the reef.
After taking in the beach, we headed straight to the recently remodeled pool where cozy cabanas with large, round beds and ceiling fans greeted us. The hotel's head mixologist caught us up on her refreshing and inventive cocktail program using all local ingredients and house made syrups. The clear winners: the Liliko'i margarita using the seeds of Hawaii's famous fruit (they're also considered an aphrodisiac), tequila, and the perfect chili salt rim and the carbonated coconut water she made using mint, fresh young coconuts, and a Soda Stream. Genius!
The next day was spent beachside and poolside again with one notable exception. Chef Brian Etheredge gave us a tour of the on-site farm where fat mangoes hung low on trees and rows of carrots and tomatoes grew to bright colors. Capische? sources the majority of their ingredients from this sustainable plot of land for a true dirt-to-fork experience. After, we walked to the small town square where Etheredge had recently opened his new market. Brimming with charcuterie, artisan cheeses, and Mason jars filled with meals-to-go, we ordered two sandwiches and enjoyed them outside with cold cans of locally brewed IPAs. Paradise.