Andaz Maui at Wailea opens

WAILEA – When the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort closed six years ago, “a void was left” in the South Maui community that had yet to be filled, said Bud Pikrone, executive director of the Wailea Community Association.

On Sunday, however, that void was filled in front of hundreds of guests, residents and workers at the grand opening of the Andaz Maui at Wailea.

“Today, as Andaz Maui at Wailea takes its first breath, I would like to welcome all of the Andaz associates ohana into the Wailea ohana,” Pikrone said to the crowd gathered in front of the resort.

The opening, led by Kahuna Nui Kapono’ai Molitau in a traditional Hawaiian blessing, guided visitors to an open-air lobby and a view of the 15-acre oceanside resort. Inside the lobby, visitors were treated to appetizers and champagne, while others embarked on tours of the 297-room resort.

The Hyatt’s Andaz brand hotel was designed by the New York-based Rockwell Group, which aimed to create an “upscale Hawaiian beach house” that was an “extension of your own home,” said Anita Rahman, director of sales and marketing at the resort.

“As the guests walk in through the arrival bridge, (the Rockwell Group) wanted the connection to Hawaii to be immediate,” she said. “So as soon as you walk over the bridge, you’re greeted with a view of the ocean.”

Along with the scenic view from the resorts’ “living room atmosphere” lobby, Rahman guided groups through a few of the guest rooms and suites, which feature a “timeless, clean-white design,” she said.

“But the most important thing about designing this resort was making the best use of the space,” she said.

As Hyatt’s first and largest Andaz brand resort, it is still one of the smallest on the strip of hotels along Wailea Alanui Drive. However, Rahman said, the hotel has made a conscious effort in terms of layout, so rooms feel open and bright. As the state’s first resort to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), rooms are also energy efficient with reusable water bottles and recycling bins.

Moving on in the tour, visitors caught a glimpse of the resort’s studio kitchen, fit with a state-of-the-art equipment and refrigerated countertops. The kitchen, specially designed for meeting rooms and special events, had chefs on-hand cooking hors d’oeuvres and other food.

The final stops in the tour led people into the resort’s 24-hour market and spa. While guests tasted complimentary ice cream at the Mokapu Market, the spa treated their hands to a massage using products with ingredients such as fruits, vegetables and coffee.

The entire operation of the resort will be run by Michael Stephens, who was previously general manager of the Grand Hyatt Seattle and Hyatt at Olive 8. Stephens was present for the opening and participated in the blessing before greeting guests inside the lobby.

“This is . . . it’s just emotional,” he said. “The ceremony was beyond beautiful. The setting is beyond beautiful; to know all the blood, sweat, tears, emotion and passion that went into this. The only words that can describe this is emotional for me.”

Jordan Meisner, senior vice president of Hyatt field operations, was also in attendance and applauded the opening, as well as the efforts of Stephens and the resort staff.

“All of the Hyatt associates; the contractors, Michael Stephens and his leadership committee team have put in great efforts to get this resort opened and opened beautifully,” Meisner said. “It really came out spectacular.”

Other amenities at the hotel include five pools overall, with three cascading infinity pools, a lagoon-style pool and a separate pool for seven rooms; a beach crew offering complimentary outrigger canoe tours; and oceanside villas and residences.

Inside the lobby are 33 pieces of traditional artwork by master carver Kenneth Hiraoka with more to be added. The resort also features the Ka’ana Kitchen restaurant, which opened Sunday night, and Morimoto Maui – headlined by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto – which is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Room reservations are still available at the resort, said Geoff Gray, director of rooms, “but everyday it’s getting tighter.”

Nightly room rates start at $409.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at