04 March 2015

An Unplanned Dash to Maui

I had heard about fare sales to Maui, so mid-week a couple of weeks ago, I started checking fares for that upcoming weekend.  Much to my surprise, I could still purchase a ticket to Maui on the flights I wanted (Saturday morning out and Sunday afternoon return) for pretty much the same price I would have paid several weeks beforehand.  Moreover, I was within the complimentary upgrade window for my elite status and seats were available, so I could also confirm upgrades in both directions.  So I booked it.

My departing flight left on schedule.  Even though it was a 757, it was equipped with the United wifi entertainment system.  Fortunately, my iPad was fully charged, so I had more than enough power to watch movies the whole way (no power available at the seats).

It so happened that I had friends on the flight who were headed to a week-long vacation on Maui.  They were getting a rental car and offered to give me a ride to my hotel.  With no bags to wait for, we were on our way to the Wailea coast.  I hadn't been to Maui in a few years.  There was new development near the airport, including a new Target that looked almost ready to open, and new lane dividers.  Once we left Kahului, I could see all the new housing developments as well.

For this quick trip, I decided to stay at the relatively new Andaz Maui at Wailea.  At short notice, there were no rate deals, so I decided to use Hyatt points for the one night.  Upon arrival, I checked in, but my room was not ready (it was only around noon).  They said they would get on it and call me when it was ready.  I used the time to walk around the property a little to get oriented.  It was maybe an hour later that I was notified that my room was ready.

The hotel only has about 270 rooms.  The pools are arranged in tiers, so there are plenty of places to hang out.  Even though the hotel was full, the grounds never seemed crowded.  The room they gave me was on the 3rd floor (Lobby was on the 5th floor) and faced the adult pool.  The room was an upgrade to a partial ocean view (partial because the room was on the lower floors).

Looking at shower from vanity
Walk-in shower

The room was spacious.  Like all Andaz hotels, the non-alcoholic offerings in the minibar refrigerator were free, as were the snacks (potato chips, nut mix, granola bar).  The walk-in shower was nice as far as being roomy.  However, there was only one overhead rainshower fixture in the center.  It looked like they had partially installed fixtures for a handheld shower but didn't complete the installation.  So, having all that room made no difference since you had to stand in the center to be in the water.

There was a large closet with a couple of drawers (one with the in-room safe) and ironing board.

The hotel was in a nice location.  It was right on the beach, with access to the beach trail that runs along the coast to the other resort areas and to public parks.  It was also about a 10-minute walk to The Shops at Wailea.

After settling in my room, I decided to have lunch while checking out the adult pool area.  The full bar menu of food and drinks was available to me, so I ordered a lobster grilled cheese and a glass of a Santa Barbara Chardonnay.

Wine and beer selections from the bar menu:

Another reason I selected the Andaz was I wanted to try the Morimoto restaurant located on the premises.  I had made a reservation ahead of time on Opentable.com  when I knew I was headed to Maui.  I ordered an Omakase tasting menu dinner, which has several nicely prepared dishes.

For the full write-up of my restaurant visit, click here.

Before the day ended, I needed to set up my ride to the airport for the next day.  I had considered making the reservation prior to leaving the mainland, but I never got around to it.  When I tried to do it online with SpeediShuttle, it said I had to call.  When I did, they had somewhat limited availability.  However, they had a slot or me at 11:00 am, which was only a half-hour earlier than the normal pick-up time for my scheduled flight time.  While it was not inexpensive, it was cheaper than using a taxi.

With a flight at 1:30 pm, I could have a leisurely morning,  I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant, opting for the continental portion of the buffet only (which also included oatmeal and one ordered side dish).  I had no problem getting seated and the food selections were varied enough for a filling breakfast.

Afterwards, I still had time for a nice walk up the beach before having to return to my room to gather my things and meet the shuttle up front.  After two stops for pickups, we were at the airport within a half-hour.  With TSA-PreCheck, I was through security quickly and had ample time for last-minute shopping, especially since the inbound plane was a little late in arriving.  Even with that, we arrived back at SFO on schedule, bringing my quick but enjoyable Maui weekend to an end.

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